This month marks our second birthday at Digital Affair! Woop!
Honestly, I still have trouble believing I can write that. This freedom we’ve created for ourselves is so precious, so incredible, we almost don’t want to jinx it by talking out loud. I’ve never felt pride like this and I’ve never felt love for a team like I do for ours. If nothing else, Shereen, Lucy and Lachlan – we’ve created one truly beautiful family.
In keeping with our company philosophy of giving, I want to share some insight into what it took to build a high performing and successful start-up in under 24 months. You can read and hear about our definition of success below, but it stands up in anyone’s book.
Now, there’s plenty of material out there about how easily some people built their business – and I’m sure for a few maybe it was, but for us it wasn’t. It was f*#king hard work.
Forbes tells us that 90% of start-ups fail. Yep. Let sink in whilst you’re considering giving your money to an author or course that tells you it’s as easy as following their ‘simple steps’. That’s a harsh truth, but it could save you a lot of time and money to ask for some honest feedback from someone that isn’t your mum or trying to take your cash. At the very least, be prepared to pivot. We did. 3 times.
I’ll do what they do in the movies and give you the scene at the end and then I thought I’d go back and tell you what it’s taken to build what is arguably a truly unique, recently global, high growth business.
These are our lives now. They look pretty awesome yeah? Well they are, but they came at a cost. Spoiler alert: It’s totally worth it, just look at that smile.
Today there is not a week that goes by that we aren’t adding a household name to this community we call friends. I get to come to “work” with my best mates every day. We get to travel around the world, sharing our story and meeting people that want to be the best they can be. We get to make things that have literally never been made before, with people that are actually willing to take risks. We are very happy people.
Like I said, it’s difficult to comprehend, even when you’re in it.
So here’s how we did it.
24 months is both a long and short time in this Startup world. I can still picture walking to my first meeting and yet everything in-between then and now seems too vast to comprehend.
By now you’re like TLDR. So here’s a video to explain the cost of doing business over that time. You wanna do a startup? Ask yourself if this is in your budget and consider that most of these stats are based on just one of our team members…
So, that sh!t blew my mind when I worked it out. It’s scary, but it’s something you need to be aware of. Consider that we are a services business, but if you’re building a product you can at least see what it’s going to cost you to get out and sell said product on top of your development costs. I get now why you guys need investment for things like marketing and sales people.
The detailed story of how we actually built Digital Affair was covered recently by our supporter and good friend Rohit Bhargava in his podcast The Start-up Playbook. It’s a super helpful resource if this topic you’re reading about is interesting to you. You can listen to the interview HERE or below. Honestly, the story Rohit got out of me is more than I could ever hope to write here and represents everything I wanted to share.
We’ve learnt a lot of lessons along the way and we’re happy to share them all if you’d like to get some further insight to help with your own journey, but there are two I have to impart:
Collaborate – our community is crazy supportive. Don’t think you have to do it all alone, there is safety in numbers. Whether you’re in a Slack community or co-working space, put your hand up, ask for help and prepare to be inspired. Collaborating with other Startups has lead us to investments and friendships that have secured the future of our business.
Confide – you’ll start out thinking you’re an island. If you’re a founder, there’s no one to tell you it’s going to be ok. It can be tough to handle alone. Little things seem like big things… until you speak to other founders. You don’t have to put on the same brave face that you show your customers when it comes to talking to your peers. You’ll learn they’re going through all the same growing pains and you have no idea how powerful it is simply knowing that. Chris, you really helped me mate, thank you.
Basically I just wanted to find a way to say thank you to everyone that has helped, supported and partnered with us over the last 2 amazing years. You know who you are and I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for you.
Hot tip. You don’t need a table tennis table, but they’re still fun.