In the war for talent, one of the biggest challenges businesses have traditionally faced is getting the best minds together in the same space. Until the last decade, it’s been predominantly a geographic challenge, but some businesses have found a solution that not only transcends the restrictions of a conventional office, but cities and even countries too.
One such company is Digital Voodoo, a digital marketing agency that works almost exclusively in cyberspace. “Our earliest clients were based in London. I had helped out a friend with overflow work, and the business grew from there,” says Seth Mbhele, Digital Voodoo’s founder.
If clients were based oversees, why couldn’t employees be multi-national as well?
“The evolution of the digital world means that businesses can operate completely online, provided the business model allows for it,” Mbhele continues. “The fact that we focus on online development and strategy and not on print campaigns made it easier for us to create a wholly online business, but we still needed to develop excellent systems and platforms to ensure efficient workflows.”
A multi-national society
These systems and platforms make it possible for both clients and employees to be based around the world. Employees all work on their specific section of a project, while clients can log on at any time to see the progress of a project.
“As we evolved and developed over the years we realised that we didn’t want to be hindered by geography when sourcing the best minds,” says Mbhele. “We focused on getting our systems right so that multiple people could work on a project while maintaining an efficient work flow.”
Mbhele’s only rule is that everyone needs to be able to communicate in English. The result is an extremely eclectic team. “We have developers based in London, Berlin and Prague, our sales, admin and graphics team is in Joburg, we have a copywriter in Cape Town and a junior developer in Durban. As long as everyone understands their role and uses the platform correctly, we are able to produce great work, on time.”
The strategy is simple. Mbhele focuses on filling niche roles, enabling the business to offer best-of-breed minds to solve specific projects. “Our principle clients are agencies. They develop and sell a concept to their clients, and then we create the user experience – the platforms that will make their visions work.
It’s specialised work and in many cases it isn’t viable for agencies to have these kinds of skills and talents employed permanently. We offer the perfect outsourced solution.”
Digital Voodoo’s recruitment process is core to their strategy. Mbhele pays attention to talent from around the world. As his company grows, so he is able to approach said talent and offer them contracts. “I’ve have learnt that it pays to wait before making a new hire.
I’ll keep my eye on someone until I know I can afford them, and then make an offer. We aren’t just filling roles – we’re creating new competencies to add to our portfolio. Once we’ve selected a candidate, we usually put them on a test project. If they execute the project well and on time, we can negotiate the employment contract.”
There is a lot of flexibility in that no-one is office bound, but this also means that every member of the team needs to be able to self-manage.
“Our differentiator is that we have assembled a highly skilled team able to meet very niche challenges,” says Mbhele. Most of Digital Voodoo’s business is repeat business from agencies. Having grown through word-of-mouth referrals, the agency is acutely aware of the standards it has created that it now needs to maintain. This begins and ends with how well each job is executed.
Player: Seth Mbhele
Company: Digital Voodoo
Contact: +27 (0)11 039 8610