Where it all started
I still remember that first day in January 2015 when I closed the door of my new garage office behind me, after telling my wife I would be going to work now to start a business. She looked amazed, not knowing what that even meant. Neither did I. What makes this starting date more significant is that it was three weeks into my first born’s life.
I read that 60% of design agencies fail within the first three years. Starting in the small surfer town of Jeffreys Bay, the odds of drowning in debt after trying for a few months were one of the only things that looked promising. Yet, here we are five years down the line! And it has been a heck of a climb, pathfinding our way to a successful startup.
The idea of starting a marketing firm came after studying B.Comm and helping several non-profit organisations with their marketing communications, including strategy, live presentations and ultimately their website – the cornerstone of any marketing campaign. I enjoyed this integrated approach and was sure that small businesses might also benefit from my growing skillset and experience.
The initial business model entailed outsourcing work to a couple of service providers specialising in printing, signage and web development. However, I quickly realised that earning a living off commissions were not going to cut it. I needed to focus on and become an expert in one thing I could do myself. The marketing service I was most passionate about was website design, so I enrolled in two courses through the University of Cape Town to equip myself for this exciting job. I was most surprised to discover my creative side while finishing my first few website designs- and branding projects.
The business earned enough money that the first year to afford a budget trip for me, my wife and our baby to New Zealand to realise my dream of meeting one of my heroes, Chuck Missler – a renowned Bible teacher. Since that first year, Pathfind Media has increased in knowledge, clients, and what business is ultimately about: revenue.
Five fun facts about Pathfind Media:
- We built more than 100 websites and completed over 100 other design projects.
- We once built a website in a day!
- More than half of our 70+ clients came to us after bad experiences with other agencies.
- We have almost 100 5-star reviews on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Trust Pilot.
- We have only ever had two unsatisfied clients… Both were very (very) old ladies…
Some key people who contributed to Pathfind Media over the years:
- André Hugo taught me the first few vital strokes of WordPress and then trusted me to swim in the deep water by outsourcing big clients to me. Together, we later successfully launched a vast and complex eCommerce site for Two Wheels Trading.
- Stephan De Beer and his wife helped me set up my accounting properly and has ever since been a tremendous blessing in all the financial protocols. I have never met someone who can be so passionate and creative in numbers.
- Peter Els was a vital part of the business during its first year. He developed the first Pathfind logo, and in turn, I helped him with starting his business networking website for local businesses.
- Dirk Streicher, my father-in-law, was and is one of my most influential mentors. I still remember the first formal document he edited for me, which sharpened my writing pencil significantly.
- Isabel Van Den Heever, my mother, has been one of my most loyal clients (with various businesses) and my biggest fan over the years.
- Arno Du Toit was my first employee and built over a dozen of websites for our clients. His exceptional skills in graphic design and photography also made a significant contribution.
- Annelie Fouché has by far been the best ad hoc representative for Pathfind. She has written many blogs for us and has brought in many clients.
- Esmé Brink has been instrumental as a referral partner. Her social media agency that outsources website work to us has brought us many new clients.
- Anneke Gräbe is one of the most talented graphic designers I know. Her artistic abilities far outrank her peers’. With the experience she gained at reputable companies like Media24 and Struik Publishers, we are grateful to have her as our graphic designer.
- Grant O’Brien has been our longest-working employee, and his contribution to website design and social media is unrivalled.
- Petro Wagner, my incredible wife, is not just excellent support, but also a master copywriter. She has written dozens of blogs and pieces of website copy for our clients.
Finally, I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all my friends and family (many of you who are also clients, likers, pray-ers) and especially to our loyal clients who are the payers that make the business a pleasure. Oh, how I love what I do!
So here’s to the next five years of service in creative communication through intelligent design.