The Honest Agency win LEP sponsored Start Up Business of the Year at this year's Blackmore Vale Business Awards 2015
Dorset LEP finds out more about The Honest Agency, winners of the Dorset LEP sponsored Blackmore Vale Business Award for Best Start up Business of the Year.
Who are they?
The Honest Agency are a full service marketing and software development agency. We differ from many other businesses in this crowded sector by being the first that is a social enterprise. This means that we give our profits back to the community in a number of ways, from children’s coding clubs, to free websites for charities.
Established in December 2014, it is very early days in the business, but the company has grown rapidly over the last couple of months. Word of mouth is our biggest marketing tool, with nearly 50% of our work coming from referrals. The agency currently has 29 active projects being fulfilled by 2 employees and 14 freelancer contractors. Many members of the team are people that would normally struggle to get a job, whether that’s due to family commitments, or health problems, but the structure and culture of the business allows more flexibility that a traditional agency.
What they do
The core service of the company is website design and development and the business specialises in ‘responsive design’ – the concept where a single website can rescale to fit on every screen size. The team are on track to deliver 20 custom websites in their first year. Another service that is proving popular is app development. Businesses are looking more and more about how they can engage with their customers and an app is often the perfect way to do this.
On top of the software development side of the business, are traditional (and modern) marketing techniques. The team comprises of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) experts, 3 content writers, pay-per-click specialists and experience in most industries. A surprisingly large number of the team have a background in automotive and so it is no surprise that the agency is picking up some of the local big names. ‘honest.’ also have in-house projects where they are building software solutions that will soon be sold to car dealerships across the country.
Why they do it
The Honest Agency was founded by Chris Ryu – someone who has had experience on both sides of the client/agency fence, seeing first-hand how and how not to do it. Chris has a passion for giving back to the community and is often seen volunteering his time for various causes. This is evident in the company’s culture and its team.
While they may not be able to charge the world, they believe they can at least cause some ripples, encouraging others to help make it a better place.
Chris Ryu, Founder of The Honest Agency said;
“Most agencies are driven too much by profit and in most cases, this results in them cutting corners – ultimately delivering a sub-standard product.
"By taking away the need for large profit margins, we open up custom design to the general public and can focus on quality, rather than productivity. Sure, we need to make money and we do. However, once the wages are paid, we believe that the ‘honest’ thing to do is to use the surplus for the good of the community.”
“A lot of agencies shout that they are award winning and I agree that it definitely gives potential customers some confidence. I entered the Blackmore Vale Media Business Awards, because of their great connection with our local area. They’re not your typical local newspaper, they are genuinely part of the community. Having their seal of approval means a lot to me and I’m sure it does to our future customers too.”
How they do it
The Honest Agency is run from a log cabin in Marnhull and a shared office in Poole. All freelance staff work from home, or local shared offices. This allows the agency much more flexibility when it comes to finding the right person for the job. If a specialist is required for a project and the perfect candidate is based in USA, the agency is given the freedom to use them and meet via Skype frequently. Naturally, it also reduces the overheads of the company significantly and enables them to give more back to the community. It is unlikely that the agency could have scaled up so quickly with traditional full-time employees.
For more information, visit The Honest Agency's website.