Back in 2005, two guys that met a few years earlier in a dorm room at the University of California-Santa Barbara decided to start a web development company. David Ephraim and Josh Goodman launched ATAK Interactive almost 10 years ago with the belief that they could create websites that were both exceptional and affordable.
A few years later and over a thousand miles away in New Orleans, I launched a digital marketing agency called the Exacta Group. In the early days, I was excited about the innovation of social media and other digital marketing avenues. I would educate clients on the power of Twitter and Facebook, and how to use the tools to help brand their business. Over time, I found that digital marketing was getting crowded – there was a new platform popping up each day with a new promise that would ENSURE you got more followers, traffic, and customers. I learned to use this congested environment to my advantage, advising clients on which platforms would be beneficial to their business, and which platforms they could avoid altogether.
ATAK meanwhile, started taking a smart approach of their own to development: become a conversion company. Their design became responsive so it was optimized on every device. They added Search Engine Optimization to their services to bring more traffic to websites. They ensured each site had a quick load time and was easy to navigate. And their clean and elegant design delivered the visual appeal customers were attracted to.
I met Josh the person well before I met Josh the professional, and as anyone who has ever met him can attest, he was one of the most likable people I’d ever come across. We naturally built a friendship, and while we both knew we worked in the digital space, it took awhile to shift our conversations to our businesses.
Josh eventually brought me in to meet David, and immediately I understood their partnership. Josh was the enthusiastic dreamer, David was the organized and efficient pragmatist. Together they played off one another’s strengths and understood how to make their different personalities advantageous to their company’s growth.
As we got to know each other and teamed up on a few projects, it was evident that the potential for something bigger was at play. In April, ATAK Interactive came to me with an interesting offer: merge your business with ours, and let’s build a full-service digital agency together.
We decided to move forward with the idea. ATAK would acquire Exacta, and we would form a three-way partnership and run our company together.
Entrepreneurs learn important lessons over time. The first big one is letting go of control and learning how to delegate. Another essential one along the way is learning when to say “no.” But the lesson that ultimately gets us the furthest is when we understand the best way to get ahead is to collaborate with one another and maximize our strengths.
Design, SEO, copywriting, coding, communication – these are conflicting skill sets. If you sat down with a specialist of each and asked them to build a website for you, you would get five completely different strategies. The designer would want it to look pretty even if it was impossible to find anything. The SEO specialist would put more text on the homepage than what you’d get in an entire Game of Thrones book. The copywriter would come up with a clever tagline that didn’t explain at all what your business did. The coder would build in abundant features you didn’t need. And the communications professional would take away all of the interesting aesthetics and deliver straight-forward, on-point messages that lacked the spirit and personality that make your brand unique.
What ATAK learned quickly upon becoming a full-service digital agency was that we get the best of all these archetypes. We get Milan, Marina, and Nikola to deliver us great design. Josh ensures our sites are showing up in search, Shelly and Madison to write interesting and smart copy, Cem to sell and market our brand, David, Galina, Vladimir, Vanja and our entire coding team to construct everything to work perfectly, and I’ll be there to make sure everything is on message.
Individually, we could all do great freelance work and contribute to projects. Together, we’re an amazing team that gets to lean on each other to help us move forward.
2014 was a great year for ATAK Interactive. But 2015 is going to continue to see our proverbial foot on the gas. We’ve got great work to do, unlimited resources to get it done, and an unselfish team that leans on each other to get the best out of one another.
Away we go.