Rune Evensen – CEO OPN Site Talk Interview
by Ted Nuyten on August 10, 2012
Rune was born in Haugesund, Norway, has a Bachelor in economy and risk management, is married and 44 years. He lives in Singapore.
The SiteTalk community has approximately 12-15 million registered users while OPN has approximately 300,000 activated profiles. OPN combines powerful business and social trends with a direct selling compensation plan.
Sitetalk is a free social community rewarding you for building a social network through personal referrals.
Ted Nuyten had the honor to interview Rune Evensen.
Rune, how did you get involved in Direct Selling? What was your first experience?
I first had a brief introduction to this industry back in 1998 through a company named Natures Own when I lived in Norway. I didn’t really “get it” back then and I (sorry to say) didn’t really believe much of what the lady presenting it to me said. But nevertheless, for some strange reason, I did sign up, and I tried it for a short while.
I didn’t really get seriously interested in Direct Selling until 2002 when a lot of companies dealing with virtual/online based products started coming to Norway and Scandinavia. Pretty soon I really “got it”, and said to myself that “I can really do this!” From the second I made that decision I have been committed to this business model.
What attracted you to this business model?
The simple idea of “the people’s franchise”. My business life prior to MLM had its ups and downs as most people experience with running their own businesses and with being employed by someone else. A part of that past was successful, and other parts not so successful (to put it nicely). One of my companies faced bankruptcy.
Having “been there” at the very bottom, you realise that it takes a lot of money to start your own business, and when you have lost it all, it is even harder to find the means to start over again. The high potential combined with the low entry makes Direct Selling an easy choice.
How did you get the idea to start The Opportunity Network – Site Talk?
In all fairness I did not come up with the idea of SiteTalk. It was presented to me as a vision in early 2009, and I just loved the idea instantly, and I booked a meeting with the founder and some of the investors on the spot. Their MLM model looked a bit different back then, and I suggested some changes in order to bring it to a part of the world where I had a lot of contacts (Asia). Soon afterwards, I was hired to be the CEO and I moved to Hong Kong to set up our first office there.
Can you explain the business model from a distributor point of view? What are the benefits?
Well, how many hours will you give me? The core business explained with very few words would be to imagine GROUPON, EBAY, AMAZON, HERBALIFE and NUSKIN having a meeting in Mark Zuckerberg’s living room, and making a mutual decision to combine forces. We do group buying and direct selling/MLM through a social community. This is the basic explanation given to me on day one and I just totally saw it.
I understand that you can join OPN for free, but then there are upgrades. What are the benefits of the upgrades?
SiteTalk and OPN have two different compensation plans. SiteTalk is a social community where you can earn redeemable credits through your personally invited friends’ actions (1 level only), whereas OPN is “The Opportunity Network”, and it’s here where we pre-bundle a variety of our products into Advantage Packages.
Through buying and selling these products, Members accumulate BV (Business Value points), which allow the Member to achieve higher ranks in the compensation plan. The compensation plan opens for multiple levels of commission, and therefore higher earnings. Have in mind that these packages do NOT have to be bought, because you can accumulate the same amount of BV through personal purchases and/or sales to achieve the higher ranks. So actually, you can go from being a FREE SiteTalk/OPN Member to achieve the highest rank without ever paying in a single cent (if you are good at selling that is).
I believe OPN has around 1 million members. Is that correct?
No, that is not correct. The confusion often occurs since we have both the network of OPN and the social media platform of SiteTalk. The SiteTalk community has approximately 12-15 million registered users while OPN has approximately 300,000 activated profiles. But if you take into account that every SiteTalk Member can also, at their own free will, activate their free OPN membership, the number for OPN potentially can be a lot higher.
You started in Norway but relocated the HQ to Singapore. What was the reason behind this?
I lived in Norway when I first saw the opportunity, but having built networks in both Norway and in Asia before, Norway was never really the first option for me. I made it clear from day one that I would like to bring this opportunity to all my contacts in Asia, and therefore I moved to Hong Kong and brought the business with me, and then later established the Global Headquarters in Singapore. And that has proved to be a very good move for the company.
What are the main countries for OPN?
Central Europe is one of our strongest markets these days with very strong groups working from out from Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Austria etc… We also have a good market in Scandinavia. Our biggest market by far is Asia with countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, etc. Although we have not opened our OPN business in the USA yet, we do have a growing market in Canada, and also some in South America.
Is there a cultural difference in Europe and the USA compared to the Asian markets?
Yes, I would definitely say so. At the leadership level we see mostly the same attitudes and respect towards the business. All groups seem to equally strive for self-development through our coaching and training programs etc. It looks to me that more people do the business full-time in Asia compared to Europe.
In Asia you will fill a venue at lunch-time on a Tuesday, but in Europe you need to plan meetings according to weekends and evenings. Both markets have the same quality of leadership in my mind, and what really pleases me is to see the different parts of the world come together as one big family which we refer to as the SiteTalk family.
What are your plans and goals for the future?
Expanding! We are currently in the process of obtaining full MLM licenses, E-commerece licenses, and import/export licenses in several key markets. Of course, one of the biggest plans that is actually now much more than just a plan, is the listing process of the SiteTalk Community which we intend to do later this year.
For both SiteTalk and OPN we have a lot of new stuff coming up just around the corner, but it would be unfair to our Members to read about it first here, so I will keep some of that candy to myself for now. Parts of it will be released within weeks, and some will be launched at our next Global Convention in Hungary this October.