"Digital Purpose is a thoughtful digital marketing and technology agency that works with mid to large corporations on helping brands engage with their customers in a human way."
Hi Martin and welcome to our inspiring startup talks with entrepreneurs! Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up being an entrepreneur.
I began building little ecommerce sites back in high school in the late 90s. I learned a lot about selling and customer service from spending a lot of time on Ebay during the early digital gold rush.
Fast forward to 2006 and that’s when I began building content-rich sites which I monetized and eventually sold to interested investors.
More recently, I got to the point where I realized I have attained a considerable amount of diverse experience in the digital space. I worked as a freelancer for small-businesses, managed large enterprise level corporate projects, and collaborated with digital agencies.
These experiences have allowed me to align my true passions with market opportunities. That’s where Digital Purpose and Shareneeds came into play. Digital Purpose feeds my cravings for knowledge and sales, while Shareneeds challenge my innovative big ideas side.
What do you like about being an entrepreneur?
That’s very simple. I love the thrill and excitement of venturing into the unknown, where the unknown must be both challenging and disruptive. I also like the fact that entrepreneurship forces me to think differently and at a more thought-provoking level than at other more defined roles.
In addition, I find that being an entrepreneur is a way of life.
You have worked in and written in-depth about search engine optimisation (SEO) for businesses. Could you share your key learnings on SEO with our audience? How can startups use it to attract new users?
Many businesses and brands make the mistake of thinking that SEO success may be achieved by simply tagging their website, following a few tactics and spitting out lots of small pieces of average content.
They don’t realise SEO should not be treated as an afterthought. I see corporate digital departments who think they are applying SEO by adding a few tasks to the tail end of their workflows.
In 2015, SEO does not live on an island. Instead, it’s heavily dependent on the integrated inbound marketing approach, which includes content marketing and social media marketing as key foundational pieces along with SEO ‘tactics’.
SEO is more about building relationships than about building link authority. It’s about providing amazing customer service which leads to greater brand exposure as your customers talk about you both on and offline.
From a content marketing perspective, I recommend creating phenomenal pieces of content which answer important questions for your customers, while walking them through on ‘how’ they should engage with your products and services to fulfill their needs. These pieces of content must be in-depth, supported with visuals and truly engaging.
I know it’s a lot of work, but the long-term benefits of investing in this type of content will lead to lots of social media and search engine exposure, which naturally boost each other up in a repetitive cycle.
What makes Digital Purpose disruptive?
From day one Digital Purpose has challenged the status quo. For example, we don’t just talk about transparency we embraced it by openly discussing and featuring our pricing model right on our site.
We also do not just talk about being progressive, efficient and nimble. We demonstrate it by adopting a remote workplace culture and partner with the best local freelancers to offer niche skills that would not make sense to retain on payroll.
Many agencies are proud that they have 200 people sitting in their New York head office. Due to the significant overhead, these agencies will only be able to provide initial ‘consulting’ services for let’s say $200,000. But since our overhead is a fraction of theirs, we are able to offer both ‘consulting’ services along with ‘execution’ for the same rate.
Digital Purpose centres around "creating engaging & useful digital experiences for its customers". What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs on doing this?
Apply a deep sense of thoughtfulness and humanity to your projects and campaigns. It’s great to be informed about the latest digital marketing trends and techniques. But at the end of the day your goal should be to connect with your audience in a real way. You simply cannot fake it. We work tirelessly to guide our clients towards the path of engagement instead of focusing on ROI. By getting engagement right, ROI will surely follow.
Digital Purpose chooses not to have an office. Could you tell us a bit about your company culture and what advantages or disadvantages "remote work" has had?
I’m probably extremely biased since I’m a huge advocate of remote work. But in any case, remote work is truly liberating. In my view it offers two significant advantages:
1) The first is a work life balance – spending two hours each day commuting to and from the office is draining and means many people are not able to spend quality time with their families
2) Focus – I strongly believe most professionals should spend at least 4 hours each day focusing on their most important tasks without outside distractions. This is definitely challenging in a typical office environment where it’s often difficult to hear yourself think.
Our company culture has truly embraced remote work and we all love it. We still meet regularly to collaborate in person and meet with clients. But we understand that we do not need to sit right next to one another to execute on a lot of our daily tasks.
You have a second startup, Shareneeds, which you are about to launch. How did you come up with this idea and what customer pain points will you address with this new startup?
The idea behind Shareneeds evolved when I began to realise that our society is at a place where we are all rushing and often lack meaningful interactions with our family and friends.
It seems our complex lives include many moving parts on a day-to-day basis. So I thought what if there was a way where we could work together to deal with this mutual complexity.
At its core Shareneeds will create a novel sense of awareness within our social circles. Imagine being able to complete your tasks in half the time by allowing your social network an inside view into your current needs. These interactions will also lead to strengthened relationships and happiness by being around those you love.
How do you balance two startups at the same time? What tips can you give to other entrepreneurs thinking of doing the same thing?
It’s definitely a challenge managing two startups. But our trick is to not make them mutually exclusive. For example, we are using development resources from Digital Purpose to build Shareneeds. In addition, both startups share many similar values since the people behind both are the same.
I would also recommend practicing patience and perseverance. It takes time to build a brand from scratch, let alone two.
Why have you chosen not to seek angel or VC funding for Shareneeds?
At this point we simply do not need to. We are investing some of our profits from Digital Purpose to build Shareneeds in a lean fashion. We also do not see the purpose in diluting our equity at this point.
However, we will continuously reassess our need for additional capital post-launch during the growing phases. But we are committed for the long-term and understand growth will take time and will often come in small bursts.
When and how do you plan to monetize Shareneeds?
It depends on how the user base grows. But we definitely do not plan to monetize it for at least the first few years to allow time for it to grow organically and evolve into a vibrant community.
We have a number of monetisation ideas, such as thank you messages integrated with Amazon gift cards and extending the functionality to local business for unfulfilled needs.
What's next for Digital Purpose and Shareneeds?
is focused on making some noise in the Canadian digital marketing and technology space as a nimble thought-leadership focused agency.
Shareneeds is focused on changing the world and bringing community and meaningful friendships back into our lives.
Before we let you go, where can we find you online?
Twitter @MartinDejnicki, Linkedin and Google+
Also reading and discussing a lot about the digital marketing and technology space on countless digital properties.
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Mark is a current journalism student in DCU and has covered a range of topics across print and radio. Having taken a class on entrepreneurship, he found startups were the most exciting thing happening in Ireland and developed a keen interest in them. Apart from technology, Mark has a love for biographies and Woody Allen films. You can contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn.