Smart50 Awards 2014

40 NOW Digital

Revenue

Over $2.5 million

Growth

57.34%

Founders

Michael Hill, 37, and Travis Jackson, 41

Head Office

Melbourne

Year Founded

2007

Employees

24

Industry

Internet

Website

nowdigital.com.au

Since Now Digital appeared in SmartCompany’s Business Start Up Awards in 2009, the digital marketing agency has picked up a raft of impressive clients.

Offering clients strategic ‘thought leadership’, integrated marketing and web development services, Now Digital currently lists clients including AGL, SEEK, Medibank Private and the federal government on its books, achieving its goal of being boutique without taking on stereotypical boutique, or ‘small’, work.

“The brand names are certainly helping with our identity and helping us to grow,” says Michael Hill, who founded the company in 2007 alongside business partner Travis Jackson.

Hill says the company has grown organically by creating advocates out of its clients thanks to the work it produces.

“As a professional services business you don’t have a tangible product for prospective clients to touch, you are selling your record of work completed for previous clients,” says Hill.

“On day one of the agency you have your own personal previous experience, but to a client looking for proof, the agency has exactly zero experience – that is a difficult position to sell from.”

He says one of the company’s biggest learning curves was an experience many startups and SMEs could likely relate to: a client going bankrupt and owing the business a sizeable sum of money.

“It was a very expensive lesson to learn, but now our business has much more formalised approaches to new business prospects, project management, payment scheduling, and – importantly – debt collection.”

It was the only challenge the business faced, with Hill admitting the one-liner he gives anyone asking for advice on starting a business is, ‘It will be at least 400% harder than you expect, and it’s worth it.’

“You know the image of a cocktail entrepreneur, sitting back saying, ‘How hard could it be?’ Well, it’s at least four or five times harder than you think.”

Looking towards the future, Hill says he and Jackson want to continue the company’s organic growth at the same pace and continue to pick up larger clients.

When asked what keeps him up at night, Hill says several years ago, at 3.14am in the morning, he’d be awake thinking, ‘I hope our clients actually pay us’.

“Now it is 1.30am [and I’m thinking], how do we evolve, what is the next big thing, should I already know what it is? I then grab the iPad and try not to wake my wife.”

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