Startup Tips: Key Lessons from the Founder of Digital Fox
Starting your own business is no easy feat and it always helps to gain insights and intel on how to go about setting up your own shop. We spoke with Tom James, Founder, and CEO at Digital Fox, to share his entrepreneurial journey and a few key tips for startups that are just starting out. Read on!
What inspired you to start Digital Fox? Tell us the story.
I set up Digital Fox as a platform which was designed to mentor young people and help interns. The goal in mind was that rather than applying for internships, young people can use the platform to work from home, at their own pace with a mentor assigned to them.
We essentially run a media company. There are no commitments and all revenue generated from the content produced goes to those who have written it. We’ve grown from there and eventually commercialized it into a media platform. Now we’re a leading content producer for geek culture, and some of those young interns have become permanent and much-loved members of the team.
Today, technology drives business. And the world of business is flooded with startups galore. In all this noise of innovation and tech, startups often find it hard to create a name for themselves and carve a niche for their business. Winning at startup marketing is a serious challenge.
It can get a bit overwhelming for startups when they’re just starting out. What are the three aspects that they should focus on the most in the beginning?
That would depend on the nature of the business, but if we’re speaking broadly I would suggest the following:
- Planning – Produce a list of things you need to achieve over the next month and build on it. You can change it, adjust it, update it at any time (and should do), but this will help you to tick things off one by one. My list is still going, and I am now at point 387, which is ‘set up a PR team in Australia’. My first one was ‘register domain name‘. By having this ever-evolving development list means you can focus on what you’re doing, rather than figuring out what to do.
- Patience and Perseverance – You’ve got to develop self-awareness and realize that everyone has ‘ideas’, and may even begin working on them, but few follow through. No matter how talented you are, if you don’t have grit, perseverance, and patience you won’t succeed. It’s also important to know, grit doesn’t mean working 18 hours a day and being focused. It just means you’re willing to keep going and see it through – even when things aren’t going so well.
- Culture – This is an important thing to consider. You need a mission statement, and it can’t be ‘to produce the best xx’. It needs to be something motivating that your team can get around. You also need to consider culture when bringing on team members, or who you network with and rely on. This helps you make decisions in line with what motivates you, rather than just what’s best for your business. It helps you to recruit better, present your business more enthusiastically and gives consumers or your market something to buy into.
Tell us some important lessons you learned during your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Here are some important lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Don’t underestimate how much you’ll need to rely on other people. You won’t be able to do it alone. Businesses are ultimately run through your relationships. Your product might be great but having the ability to network is very important.
- Be flexible in your approach. What might have worked when you started, might not work in the future. Being flexible also helps you spot opportunities which sometimes dramatically change the direction you take.
- Care about your customers and staff, rather than your business. The business should look after itself if you do.
What happens when your domain name expires? The first thing you should know is that once your renewal date lapses, your domain name will go through three stages: 1. Expiration Period For up to 45 days, your registrar can place your domain name 'on hold'.
What marketing tactics have worked best for Digital Fox?
It all works. It’s just how well you execute it. Given we’re a media company we primarily focused on producing the best content possible, which entertained our audience rather than “pitch” to our clients. Most of our clients came from word of mouth, or simply introducing ourselves through an acquaintance.
What are your future plans for Digital Fox?
We’ve just launched offices in Denver, US, and London, the UK which enables us to produce more relevant content to those markets. We now have three teams producing content worldwide. Our next phase is scaling up fast and increasing our reach further.