Recently on our 2 year anniversary, we talked with our Chief Marketing Technologist Damon McMillan about the trials, tribulations and successes of Blended Digital's journey as a start up.
Given this, we thought it only prudent to also grab our Chief Operating Officer, Adam Crow and get his view on Blended's start up journey, and how we have become a leading APAC authority on Martech in less than 2 years.
We asked Adam the following key questions:
1. Why did you decide to found Blended?
Damon and I have both worked for large consulting firms in the past, and we’ve seen the same approaches to meet client requirements fail time and time again. We knew there was a better way, and after many social beers, we decided to try and prove it.
2. How did you land on the name?
We went back and forth with many names and in the end, we agreed that the name itself isn’t as important as the offering and the capability. We landed on Blended as it works in many different contexts; a blend of technology, a blend of strategy, a blend of resourcing etc.
3. You've stepped into the CEO role. What have been your biggest personal and professional lessons?
From a professional perspective, I think it’s been quite a trial by fire to learn how to operate a business. Coming from a developer/ programming skillset, it’s quite a contrast and soon throws you out of your comfort zone. I think both Damon and I had experienced the realisation that even the most well respected and experienced people in senior leadership roles are trying to work out certain aspects of improving their role, so you certainly don’t need to know it all in year 1.
From a personal perspective, I think the biggest lesson I always knew but still fell for... Never celebrate until it’s signed.
4. When you reflect on the past 2 years, what are some of the most significant milestones in Blended's history?
Some that come to mind are:
- 1 million in sales year 1 with 4 staff
- Securing a MSA with ANZ bank - something notoriously difficult for a startup
- Being invited into 4 large tenders for huge brands and getting down to the final 2 on multiple occasions
5. What factors do you think have driven the business' growth to date?
We employ unicorns... Tireless consultants who easily integrate into client teams, can convey technical concepts to business stakeholders, translate business KPIs into technical requirements, turn those requirements into solution architecture and then make it a reality. Simple as that!
6. What have been the biggest challenges?
In some of our largest pitches, we’ve had the best product/services, best transformation strategy, competitive rates, presented well and had great connections with our audience. Where we’ve lost out historically has 90% of the time been as a result of risk due to the size of the business and the fact we’re still a startup. Breaking this mentality has been our biggest issue to date and something we constantly battle against.
7. And the highs?
ANZ has been a great success story for us. They’ve been an incredible client that has supported us and helped us grow.
In 2020, we were chosen as a finalist in the Australian Business Champion awards, and then Covid came along and killed the event. Thanks, Covid!
More recently, we have been shortlisted for Marketing Technology Company of the year by B&T.
This is an incredible achievement for us as not only does it show that our impact and mission is resonating with the APAC market, but importantly, we are lucky enough to be finalists with BIG tier 1 agencies like CHEP and global marketing technology platforms like Wrike valued close to a billions dollars!
For a company like us, two years into our journey i think it shows we are definitely on the right track,.
8. Key plans for the next 24 months?
Scale, scale and scale some more! We have our big rocks in place and a 5 year plan, and we’re well on track. We want to build out the teams and bring in some more top talent to help us smash expectations on new accounts.
9. Any advice you'd give to anyone out there thinking about starting their own business?
Go all in or don’t even start it. It takes everything you have and then the stuff you didn’t know you had, too. If you can find a business partner that’s going to put in as much as you do, don’t even hesitate. The ability to spread the load will help maintain your sanity in the journey ahead.
10. What question do you hate being asked?!
Did you forget to use suncream?? - I have Eczema that can get pretty bad and turn my skin quite red. When I meet new people, they often try to break the ice with a joke about sunburn. They usually feel bad when I tell them why I’m bright red but I get that question at least once a month (before Covid anyway).