Not every company out there possesses the honor of having been elected Best Workplace in Spain of the Year 2014. But Cyberclick can fiercely stand proud of their award for having become one of the most attractive places to work in Spain.
We spent an evening chatting with David Tomàs, General Manager of Grupo Cyberclick in our last Startup Grind Barcelona edition. Cyberclick is a group of companies specialized in online advertising and marketing, based in Barcelona, Madrid and Bogotá (Colombia). Each one of these companies specializes in a specific vertical inside the digital marketing area (newsletters, inbound marketing, marketing campaigns...) but they all share this excellent company culture they've been awarded for.
There's more to company culture than great office views or having a ping-pong table in your workplace. David learnt all of this in the Entrepreneurship Course he took at the MIT during a life-changing visit to the USA. Shortly thereafter, he applied what he learnt to his companies, changing the way he managed the companies for the better.
In this article you will find the top 9 things we learnt from David in our fireside chat last Thursday, where we talked company culture and growthhacking.
#1 Not everyone is an entrepreneur
David questioned the fact that everybody can be an entrepreneur. In fact, he thinks entrepreneurs are made with a special mold. One should sit back and reflect on a Sunday afternoon to see if questions like "does my life suck?" or "why do I have to go to work tomorrow?" pop up. If they do, it is time for a change.
His main advise here is, if you're determined to start something, go and get good partners: co-founders, advisors, providers, and the like should all be trustworthy partners and like-minded individuals or companies.
#2 First things first: define your company's values
David is a strong believer in the power of company culture. However, he acknowledges the difficulty of implanting this mindset in Spain, where there is little to no tradition of promoting values within the company. Most companies do have their motto or their principles atop their website, but they do not follow them in their daily routine.
"Company culture should be defined with the rest of your co-founders and put on paper," commented David, remarking the power of the core values of a company. Of course, according to him, all the co-founders should be 100% aligned with the values. "If they are, and the company culture is ever-present in the daily life of the company, finding the right people to work with will be a walk in the park," he added when asked about how to grow the team following these principles.
#3: Finding the right team
If there's a flaw in his CV, it should be an imprecise start with Cyberclick. David explained "I had the best team just for anything, but not for that specific niche market we wanted to conquer. The best team for everything might not be the fittest for your specific goal. Choose your market and then choose the team, not the other way around." Needless to say, he founded Cyberclick back when digital marketing wasn't even a trend in Spain, but something he had heard it was growing in the States. After some time, the company and its values settled, to start working their way up to the top.
The core values of your company must be a priority in your roadmap, according to David: "if [your team] does not follow your company values, you will struggle along the way."
Furthermore, he also made clear that he looks for entrepreneurial individuals when he's hiring. Attitude over aptitude: "I'm not a big fan of CVs. If a person is passionate about what she does, chances are she'll eventually meet her goals and thus feel more fullfilled at work."
#4: Finding investment
Spanish investors get always harsh criticism because of their tendency to invest only in copycat models or chipping in very little money compared to other countries. David begged to differ: "[...] in Spain there's a lot of money. All good projects find funding, but there's no money for startups without metrics and projection."
The fireside chat drifted into the second topic of the day: growthhacking. As an expert in digital marketing, David knows his share of this topic, and explained what growthhacking is, commenting on some of the most effective growth hacks he's seen, such as the well known Hotmail or Dropbox cases.
David recommended having a growthhacker in the team. A growthhacked is someone that's equally skilled at marketing and tech-savvy, enough to code effective A/B testing, a viral recommendation program or a stunning landing page.
As a matter of fact, David really insisted on following this path: "Growthhacking is the most effective way a startup can grow big without spending a single penny in advertising."
#6: Hitting the right key
Obviously, growthhacking is not an exact formula, and when to apply it differs from company to company. For David, observing the trends and the changes in the market is essential in a company's strategy. He really stressed getting to know your company's target clients and the social networks they use.
When asked about when is the right time to apply a growthhacking strategy, he replied: "Now. The best time to do something is now. The market is ever-changing, and people are not waiting for you, so you need to test multiple products/theories/techniques before you hit the right key."
#6: Finding mentors
In spite of all the excitement, entrepreneurs should remain focused when they scale their business. David recommended getting mentors. "Mentoring is a good way to create ecosystem - as they build powerful connections - and learn from their experience."
Mentors can be somebody close to you or based in your city, but you can also learn from the greatest by reading their books. When asked what book does David find essential, he recommended buying Customer-funded Business by John Mullins.
#7: Finding clients
One of the most exhausting and discouraging tasks in the startup world is finding clients. David shared his knowledge on this field. As a Manager of a group of different specialized companies, he learn that it is easier to break down your strong points and create a company out of each one of them, rather than being a company that offers multiple services.
His advise was to follow his path: "[You must] identify your clients by trimming down the market to one thing that you do really well, and then focus on them."
#8: Becoming an expert
One of the main advantages of being a pioneer in your field, is that you are perceived as an expert. You might fail, according to David, but being the first gives you time enough to recover and be seen as if you were always leading in your domain of expertise.
"Cyberclick was created back in 1999 when there was no digital marketing in Spain. We were the first, so we had to learn," he explained. However, the history of Cyberclick hasn't been a bed of roses: they had to endure the Dot-com crash, or a NASDAQ breakdown, the current economic crisis and even the process of one of their biggest clients filing for bankruptcy. "And despite all of that, we never gave up", because, according to David, an entrepreneur should never ever give up.
#9: Being productive
It is well known that CEOs allocate 80% of their time to things they have to do and 20% of the tasks that they like to do. When asked about how do they distribute their time at Cyberclick, David said that they tried to minimize meeting time. "A three minute daily meeting sharing current affairs cuts down on conventional meeting time."
Where you in the event? What would you like to highlight from the fireside chat with David? Feel free to comment the post using our hashtag: #SGBCN on Twitter!