On this week’s episode of the Working Without Pants Podcast, I sit down with the Jeremy Loyd, Creative Director at Sparkbox. Sparkbox is an Ohio based web design and development agency with about 30 team members on board.
In this interview, I got to talk to Jeremy about how Sparkbox got started out, the unique approach they took to niching down, and the ways they get new clients.
I had a great time talking with Jeremy, and I hope you get a ton of value out of this episode.
Jeremy had worked at an agency doing printing and branding before he decided to go out on his own and work as a freelancer. During this time, he ended up meeting 3 other guys who were also working as freelancers, one other designer and two developers.
Over time, they would pass work around or even share projects. It wasn’t until they had landed and successfully completed one large project together that they decided they should go into business.
When they began, they didn’t have a niche, so they would take on any projects they could. And, after a few years, they realized that they weren’t really experts in anything.
They realized they would have to focus down in order to become a company people sought out for specific work.
Jeremy and the team took a very unique step toward niching down their business. It involved essentially breaking their company up into three different companies.
One of their companies was focused on children’s room decor. One company was a branding arm also focused on the children’s market. The third company ended up becoming Sparkbox.
The competitive advantage of Sparkbox was that they were really focused on developing responsive websites at the time responsive design was really taking off.
Once the team realized that Sparkbox was really where their momentum was, they dropped their other projects and began to work full time on Sparkbox.
By going through this process, they were able to become experts in responsive website design.
Winning new clients
From the beginning, through leadership was an idea that they embraced. They began writing a lot about what they were learning in regards to responsive design and development.
They wrote about technical topics they had learned about in order to educate others that were curious about learning also.
They were one of the first companies that really started to embrace responsive web design, and a lot of the stuff that they were doing started to get picked up by others. People started finding out about Sparkbox through CSS galleries that they were featured in.
All of this work they did to be thought leaders in their space has really brought them the success they have today. And, this continues to be one of the main tactics they use to win new clients.
In addition to a lot of the writing they do, they now do a lot of speaking engagements. And, Sparkbox created a workshop. They made training space available where they could host meetups or invite outside speakers in to provide value for their peers and customers.
This has allowed them to build up connections over time, and from that consulting gigs and development projects have come about.
One other area Sparkbox is passionate about is education. So, they created an apprenticeship program for others to come and learn. It is a way that they can give people the skills they need to thrive in the website design industry and shows them how Sparkbox’s processes work.
For Sparkbox, this has also been a great way for them to find new talent to join their team.
They have been running the program for about 6 years, and they typically end up hiring someone out of each one of the cohorts that goes through.
Jeremy attributes a lot of Sparkbox’s success to having good advisors.
I completely agree that a good, trustworthy advisor can make all the difference as you are starting out in your own company.
Another strong emphasis for Sparkbox is creating a strong culture. You need to take care of your people, and make sure that you hire others with similar values. Get to know the people you work with.
I had a great time talking with Jeremy, and I love the story of Sparkbox. I encourage you to go check out their website at seesparkbox.com to see some of the awesome work they are doing.
I hope you enjoyed this episode as well, and I will see you next week on the Working Without Pants Podcast.