Developing a part-time idea into full-time business: An interview with Generation Next member Growthack

Posted in:
Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 26/09/2022

Balancing your day job with a new venture is a reality for most new business founders in today’s world. Leo Worsley and Kevin Kapezi talk to Jasmine Thompson about founding their Nottingham-based company, Growthack, in 2020, and how their success led to the duo deciding to take the plunge working on the venture full time.

Describe your journey to founding your company, your role within it and the services it offers.

Growthack, a boutique digital marketing consultancy, was co-founded by Leo and Kevin at the cusp of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the tremendous uncertainty that was presented for all start-ups during this time and the strains placed on us as we juggled our (then) full-time employment — we proudly operate a successful business.

Our fresh approach, aiming to steer clear of being a one-stop-shop for agency services but instead focusing on clear-cut specialisms (SEO and paid media), means that our clients gain expert specialist digital marketing services at a much more reasonable price.

To cover our inability to directly provide a wider breadth of marketing services, we have built a network of specialist partners in various supplementary fields of marketing such as, copywriting, web design, development and graphics — a supply chain so to speak that extends beyond our brand.

We strongly believe that bringing together independent specialists breeds a level of output that is far greater than those typically found in all-service agencies.

One of our long-standing clients, Brodie Cashmere, launched its direct-to-consumer business in January 2021 and turned over £0.5m in its first year of trade. Brodie is one of our oldest and most-prized clients as we have been trusted to deliver countless projects to help it launch, internationalise and optimise its digital presence. Through all of the collective effort placed to date, Brodie has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade 2022 which is one of the UK’s most prestigious emblems of business success.

What highlights and challenges you have faced while creating the business?

As with most new businesses, generating demand proved to be our largest challenge.

Kevin held employment at the credit giant Experian and was its lead SEO specialist for more than 20 of its B2B websites. We leveraged his knowledge to help attract some large B2B clients within a variety of sectors, one of them being a national, leading law firm. An example was when he featured as a speaker at an internationally acclaimed conference, Whitespark’s Local Search Summit, to raise our company profile.

Leo’s unique approach to his specialism, paid media advertising, has seen him take the stage on multiple occasions from awarding bodies such as EU Search Awards, Google and The Drum. These accomplishments resulted in high levels of trust among his peers and network which we benefited from as we launched Growthack.

In the beginning, we started operating from our homes during all hours of the evening, and successfully transitioned to working within a shared-office space from November 2021, embracing a truly hybrid and flexible working environment.

What skills/qualifications/experience have you found the most useful when building the business?

Kevin: “I’ve had a range of experiences throughout my professional career. I started out in customer service, then finance and transitioned to marketing later in my life. This has provided me with a solid grounding and understanding of how businesses operate. When starting out, you have to take on a variety of different jobs and I lean on my previous experience quite a lot.”

Leo: “I come from a largely numerate background having excelled in fields of science throughout my life. The skills I have in analysis and interpreting data, combined with an ability to clearly communicate complicated matters in a simple way has been one of my greatest assets throughout the rise of our business.”

What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?

Leo: “Entrepreneurship to me, represents the opportunity to provide a service or resolve a problem in a way that you see best. Rather than following procedure, structure, and ultimately following others’ ruling – entrepreneurship fully allows you to lean into your individual strength and character without compromise. I also strongly believe that the journey of entrepreneurship is best shared with others as it can, at times, demand a lot from you.”

Kevin: “For me, it means ownership. It takes a lot of courage and backbone to step out of environments that have already been created for you. The onus is now on you as an individual to create something new. Stepping out of the box is a demanding and emotional rollercoaster but equally rewarding. It certainly helps when you have a business partner that complements your strengths and weaknesses.”

What are your future plans for the company?

Growthack’s recent trajectory has far exceeded our expectations and as humbling as that is, it has made setting future goals more difficult. What seemed unrealistic may now actually be within the realm of possibility.

Instead of setting out clear financial targets, and putting numbers down on paper. We have a very clear set of operational goals about which we wish to continue to grow the business.

Sustainability as a key part of our operations

We’re already well underway with a project we’ve labelled “Carbon Negative”. An initiative that formed a part of our first-hire process, whereby we have enrolled a member of staff onto a training course to be Growthack’s appointment sustainability champion. This extra-curricular post encourages the member of staff to take complete ownership of our business’ carbon footprint and deploy schemes to ensure that our business is in fact carbon negative.

Beyond the ecological sphere, we will also be continuing to provide opportunities for graduates and young professionals to join and work with our business. We see Growthack as being the much needed spring-board for the next generation of exceptional marketing talent.

Building our supply chain

We will continue to bring together a network of partners that supplement our core activities. Taking pride in refusing to monetise all opportunities presented, and instead sharing work with other small businesses like ourselves which truly specialise in their respective field. This approach always results in a sum greater than its parts and extends the maximum value to our clients as they enjoy an overall high-quality, responsive service with low costs.

Keeping pace with technology and enhancing user experiences

We’ll also aim to further Growthack’s technological innovation, continuing to work with developers who specialise in Magento and Shopify, and to continue to develop exceptional website experiences in line with direct user feedback and campaign initiatives. We ensure we optimise our clients’ websites in line with best-in-class user expectations.

The effects of achieving exceptional results and being client and customer- focused will help cement Growthack’s reputation in being a trusted marketing services provider.

What advice would you give others looking to start their own business?

Kevin: “You can’t do everything yourself in the long-run. Finding trustworthy people who you can work with will be key to your success. Bonus points if they are local. We’ve been blessed with such a diverse pool of businesses and people in Nottingham to lean on so we haven’t had to search too far.“

Leo: “Be confident with the product or service in which you’ll design your business around. You will face many challenges throughout your venture, and it’ll be your confidence in the ‘thing’ you sell which will determine whether you become discouraged or energised through the harder times.”

Share this post