This is the long version.
The day I left school I decided not to pursue the uni route, racking up a student loan on tuition for subjects I knew I would never use in the real world didn't seem so smart. So I decided to travel. Early the following year ventured off and spent 1 year travelling the world by myself.
After a while it became apparent that it was far more enjoyable travelling with other travellers whom I had met on the way. One day I looked for a site on the web that would offer this service, a way to meet other solo travellers based on where I was travelling and when, turns out there wasn't one. So I started thinking about creating one.
I arrived back home to Christchurch, New Zealand with a 40 page notebook full of ideas around how this service would work. Two months later www.findatraveller.com was born. The site grew organically for two years, it won a few small business awards then sold it privately to a larger travel company, who then folded the database into their own site. Findatraveller.com was all of sudden no more.
After the sale I moved to Sydney, Australia and began working on a second backpacker based travel site www.gunnago.com. Gunnago's premise is to allow backpackers to find information geographically via an intuitive mapping interface. I wrote a business plan for it, and then received a significant investment in startup capital to make the plan come to life. Turn's out it didn't. The startup capital guys and me began to have differing visions as to how the site should operate.
I didn't have a shareholders agreement in place, which basically meant we had to settle the affair through lawyers. Expensive Lawyers. Everything I made in the sale of findatraveller, I paid out in lawyers fee's to get out of the gunnago situation. What I was left with after 12 months was the url www.gunnago.com, a 12 month non-compete clause restricting me from launching a website in the online travel space and a far better understanding of how the world of startup investment works.
During the early Gunnago days, I met a fellow Kiwi who was CEO of a large backpacker chain in AU and NZ. In our first meeting he asked me "aside from gunnago, what are you doing?" I replied "working an average job in the hospitality industry" he replied "work for me, as a contractor, we need to start getting savvier in this facebook space, you seem to know a heap about it" to which I replied "no drama's, when do you want me to start?" he replied "next week". I quit my hospitality job the next day and began my life as a facebook focused marketing consultant, this was in late 2007.
I needed a name for the business. Mudo Media was born in eary 2008. Mudo being Spanish for dumb, as so many people looked at me as dumb for only focusing specifically on facebook and not the rest of the social media eco-system. This has been my big point of difference from day one. In my mind facebook was always going to be the king of social, turns out it was and is.
My first big client aside from the backpacker chain was SUPRÉ. It was probably the 20th cold call I had made that day, I was put through to the marketing manager who told me she had just invested heavily with myspace. I told her she was wrong in doing that and explained why. I met with her for breakfast a week later and presented a plan on how to grow a facebook page for SUPRÉ. Six months later SUPRÉ had one of the largest and fastest growing facebook pages in Australia, which I subsequently wrote a whitepaper on detailing the strategy behind how I grew it. That whitepaper has now been downloaded over 25,000 times worldwide and facebook.com/supre is arguably still one of the largest and most engaged facebook pages in Australia.
For the past 4 years since the launch of Mudo I've worked with over 50+ brands, differing in size from my Mums business to a range of SME's to large multinationals to government entities, all specialising in facebook centric marketing strategy.
I love facebook. More specifically how facebook is now allowing marketing to evolve. It was the missing piece of the online marketing puzzle throughout the 90's and early 00's. Facebooks now a part of most peoples everyday life, it's maturing, it's getting technologically boring. It's become a commodity; a medium in itself, a medium I've been specifically working in for almost 4 years and I believe it's a catalyst that will fundamentally change marketing forever, it represents the next logical step forward.
Over those 4 years I've developed a very specific offering, primarily I have focused on community creation strategy or community growth strategy. Out of these two offerings drops 3 specific skillsets, social advertising strategy, content creation strategy and community management strategy – in order to deliver a strong community creation or community growth strategy, all three of the above sub skillsets have to be employed together, which is what we do. I've also been actively involved in creating and running in-house workshops for several large multi-nationals focusing on the three skillsets mentioned above as well as speaking at industry conferences.
A new area I am focusing on is the development of personalization frameworks for branded micro-sites and e-commerce websites or online stores. The definition of a personalization framework centers on creating an extremely personal experience for the consumer when they interact with a brands online property. The benefits of this approach are higher dwell times, increased purchase intent and dramatically higher brand affinity per visitor.
Moving forward I am now focused on building a brand around myself, hence the birth of digiocial. After a brief stint within the world of a big agency, I feel I can be of more value by offering my own skillset as a service, rather than as an agency focused one. I've still retained the mudo logo as it was designed by my younger brother back in 08' and owns a heap of brand equity within the media and marketing industry that I didn't want to lose.
So, that's a (very) long story short. I'm now 28 years old, have no university degree and have worked for myself for the past 6 years, which I'm pretty stoked about.
The story above tells a journey, most of the time it was fun, more often than not it was challenging and sometimes it had the potential to be soul destroying. Through those harder times I've always held this quote from one of mentors close to me, and seeing as this is the first time I've recapped it's what I want to close on.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary......STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH".
- Steve Jobs