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What I’ve learnt in three years at a startup

Devin ross.jpg

I joined MPULL three years ago, and we were a very different business then. I joined as the 4th employee in a 40m2 office. It was in a shared workspace with many other micro-businesses. Personally, I had about two years experience in the sales and marketing industry and a marketing degree behind my name.

But little knowledge of marketing technology and the digital sphere as a whole. What I have learnt in the past three years has been immense.We grew quickly, and within 2-3 months were up to around 12 employees – and we needed to move. Our office fell through, and we literally worked from restaurants, houses and coffee shops while searching for a new home. Until we finally settled in Rondebosch.pic 1 first para.pngFirst staff party, December 2014

From the picture above, we grew from strength to strength, strongly aligning ourselves with HubSpot and the inbound marketing methodology, we focused on the B2B space in South Africa, and made inroads very fast. Through HubSpot, we allowed for our biggest growth path, and in late 2015, we pivoted our agency to focus on consulting and growing other agencies worldwide, by offering a white labelled solution and becoming strategic partners of key agencies we work with. This change catapulted the company's success, and by late 2015, we had grown to 40 staff members. The photo below was taken shortly after we won the Grindstone Accelerator Award.pic 2 sec para.png

French interns farewell - Can’t remember, 2015.

2016 was a pivotal year for the agency. In early 2016, we joined forces with a design and development agency in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, over time, this relationship didn’t work out, but through that period, I learnt a truck load about business and grew immensely as a marketer through new challenges. 2016 also afforded me the amazing opportunity to travel to Spain to a conference that we were a big part of – ‘The Inbounder’. Networking with some of the best in Europe, and listening to speeches from marketing and inbound legends such as Rand Fishkin, was a great learning experience for me.pic 3 3rd para.pngThe Inbounder, Valencia, 2016.

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Romain from Hubspot, the beginning of a monumental hangover, 2016.

Moving into 2017 – we are in an incredibly strong position. With about 40 staff members, a clear vision, two satellite offices (in Europe and the US) and some amazing partner agencies from around the world in places like Australia, the US, Europe, Asia and Africa. I see this business only going from strength to strength. Over the past three years (which have felt like 10), I have learnt some key things about choosing the company you work for, and I thought I would share these thoughts below:

Pick a culture that fits you

The culture of an organisation goes beyond drinking, partying and joking. It's the underlying embedded values that the company has. These have to align with your values and your direction. I think this is vital when joining any company, and especially a small business. If you don’t buy into the culture and the way of life, it's not for you. Move on until you find a place that feels like home.pic 5.pngPeddlars Fun Friday, 2014

Your boss has to be cool

If your boss is an asshole, leave. I don’t think we could have cooler bosses than Daryn Smith and Graeme Wilson, and they do form the cornerstone of the culture and values of MPULL. Your boss needs to challenge you constantly and always try to get the best out of you. What my bosses have done for me is immeasurable in terms of my personal growth. Go and knock on their door, believe me, it can change your career.

You have to believe in the broader vision

This point for me, is what either makes you with us or against us. You have to believe in the broader vision of the company you are working for. Our vision is to challenge the status quo constantly and to always strive to evolve and change, to question and improve the way things are done. Change is the only constant and is excellent for consistently putting you out of your comfort zone. Only then, do you grow and learn.

You must LOVE change

If your boss’s name is Daryn Smith or Graeme Wilson, you have to love change! But outside of that, it’s the essential part of a successful business. Companies that are resistant to change will never do anything great. Change or “failing fast” as Daryn likes to call it, is essential to continuous learning and improvement. This is the fundamental reason that I believe this company will be written about in the future, and the reason I love coming to work every day.

I leave you with a picture of our most recent staff party (before Dean Swanich threw my shoes off a roof).pic 6 end.pngStaff Party, December 2016.

There’s no doubt I work for an amazing company, and the great news is that we are often on the lookout for other talented people to join the team; from brilliant strategists  & content producers, skilled freelancers to eager interns. If you’d like to join the MPULL team, you can find more information here.


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