Elevator Pitch: Jaywing

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Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Tom Geekie and Chris Pittham, joint managing directors of Jaywing Australia.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea

We launched our agency in 2012 as a search marketing specialist, having worked both agency and client side and become frustrated with the lack of transparency and poor practice in search that we could see all over the industry.

Things are a little different in the industry now but we’ve grown from two to over twenty people in that time and expanded our services as clients increasingly expect us to play a consultative rather than service-based role. Our best relationships are those where we solve problems rather than purely chase results - although we’re good at that too.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

We actually sold our business to Jaywing plc in July 2016. We weren’t looking to sell but were introduced through a mutual contact when Jaywing was exploring opportunities to expand its operations in Australia. We really liked the deal structure and the opportunity to grow faster and offer broader services as part of a bigger business. We still own 25% of the agency which very much keeps us engaged, as well as really enjoying the experience of being part of a bigger agency. We’re able to bring more products and services to our clients and really add value for them.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?

Talent acquisition is an issue - we need to recruit at the right rate to support our growth. The market is growing fast and the industry changing even faster. We’re working with universities to ensure we have home-grown talent as well as doing our best to attract Australians but we do have to look internationally too, which is more of a challenge with the visa changes.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

Aside from our consultative approach, we marry data science with creative thinking and execution to help both us and our clients stand out from the crowd. Everything we do is grounded in data science. Marketing today is complex and fragmented, which is where some of the AI tools we’re developing is really starting to make a difference.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

Chris: Google plays a big role in my work day, in part due to the nature of our business but also because I love a good gadget. I’m heavily reliant on a number of their apps and tech, including gmail, Google Calendar and Google Home. I’m also terrible with directions and would spend half my life going round in circles without Google Maps. Outside of work, Headspace is a part of my daily routine and I find it really helps me keep perspective.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Tom: One that has always stuck with me is “Will it Make the Boat Go Faster”, a quote from British Olympic rower Ben Hunt-Davis. I had the privilege of hearing him speak and he was truly compelling. The 8-man team won gold at the Sydney olympics, against previous performance, by becoming completely single-minded that every single decision and action they made, both individually and as a team, had to be solely in service of achieving the ultimate goal. This mindset really helps to cut through the noise and focus on both the big picture and the day to day. It was also pretty cool to hold an Olympic gold medal for a moment.

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