Solid Digital has come a long way from when our CEO Jesse McCabe founded the company back in 2007. It’s been 12 years of constant growth, innovation, development, and digital marketing wizardry. There have been ups, downs, and learning experiences in our evolution from a one-man freelancing operation to a full-service digital agency. The journey hasn’t been easy, we experienced a merger and moved offices several times, but have been able to adapt to the changes in our industry, expand our service offerings, build the right team, and work with some amazing companies and people.
I sat down with our CEO Jesse McCabe and our COO, Travis McHattie to chat about their partnership and 12 years of accomplishments here at Solid Digital.
It’s been 12 years. If you could go back in time, would you have done anything differently?
Jesse: I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the past, but at one point, we diverted from our primary focus and got involved in a startup idea that didn’t take off. It cost us a lot of money, energy, and momentum from our core business. It was a huge learning experience, though I consider the costs necessary to get us back on track.
Travis: That’s a tough one, I’ve made a lot of mistakes growing a company from 2 people over 12 years. I’m happy where we are now, so perhaps the thing I would do differently is focusing on the business as it’s own identity separate from my identity. Create more room for others to lead early on and less on your personal abilities.
At over a decade, you’ve outlasted most marriages. How do you make your partnership work so well?
Jesse: We have been working together for a long time (before Solid Digital). I think we both know what we’re good at, and while some of that overlaps, we respect our abilities when it comes to the parts that don’t.
From the get-go, we both found ourselves driven by succeeding on seemingly impossible requests. Navigating time and resources to build a customer’s vision is still exciting. I believe it continues to be the driving force for us.
There are definitely times we don’t see eye to eye and it can get emotional, but we don’t let those things fester. If a difficult conversation needs to be had, we are willing to have it.
Travis: Jesse and I spend time working our shared vision and try to get aligned on things at a high level before we start talking about details. If you start with the end in mind, then conversations are easier to have.
Where do you see Solid Digital in 10 years?
Jesse: I really hope the vision we have put in place over the last year is the seed that grows into something that’s bigger than just our company. It would be thrilling if (in 10 years) we were helping other agencies become better at providing value to their customers.
Travis: That’s hard to say, but I hope we are recognized in our markets for doing exceptional work and continue helping companies push the needle. We are always going to keep innovating and pushing ourselves to have the best strategy, creative, marketing and technology. I can only hope that we are easy to find and easy to work with and people choose to do so.
What is your advice to someone that aspires to own/run a digital agency?
Travis: It’s important to have a good reputation, so quality is important. I would also start with marketing and business development efforts are early on, even when they aren’t needed (due to a strong network). At some point, you will need both of these abilities and they will be essential. Getting a head start means that you’ll have some muscle built up when your referral network slows down. Treat your people/customers well and never burn a bridge with a client or employee. This is a small world and time is better spent anywhere before making enemies.
Jesse: Don’t burn bridges! Building up your own reputation is important, and I believe that comes from being true to your clients and your relationships in the community. Not doing what you say you’re going to do, being sneaky, or bashing others to get ahead are just a bad way to burn your calories (in general).
What are you most proud of?
Travis: Through all of the ups and downs that come with running a business, we’ve maintained some really great long term relationships. Both current and past employees and current and past clients. Some of our clients have been with us as long as the company has been around. That’s amazing to think about.
Jesse: I’m just generally proud that we’re still motivated to be better 12 years into this experiment. It still feels fresh and exciting, and I believe a lot of that has to do with what really drives us as a team — building cool shit.
It’s been a great journey and we look forward to see where it takes us. From all of us here at Solid Digital, we are very excited to be celebrating along with Jesse and Travis all our accomplishments and our growth. Along with the wonderful friendships that we have developed throughout the years with our clients and present and pass team members. Here is to our 12 years and many many more.