I remember when I had just started to grow my then web development company Dutchpot Interactive from 2003-2006. We enjoyed brisk business primarily because of our customer service, design talents and our keen understanding of the business context of why companies must be online. In house at our Seymour Park digs we had a team of 7 people. We won new business, we won retainers with corporate companies the whole nine yards.
Then things changed.
The upstarts, the one man web design shops and the web design chop shops happened. Now, while competition has never bothered me as I believe it makes you better and gives customers greater choice, I had a problem with clients who called thinking we were automatically bidding for their web projects since there were now more players to choose from. And I know I can get a few amens when I say this – some Jamaican companies always ah bawl pon di price of everything….they believe everything must be discounted.
But You see my goal from day one, was to sell the value we were going to deliver- show them the money in a different way – what we’re going to save them or help them make and the results we’ve achieved for current and past clients. Some of them didn’t even want to hear that, they were out bargain hunting. I learnt too that they will typically be the kind of client that would switch if someone charged them US$50 less. Who wants that? That’s like a guy having a girl who leaves him for a dude who drives a better car. So clearly they often didn’t become clients.
Where did this mentality came from?
1. I define a bottom feeder in this case as those desperate for business, do-not-know-their-worth upstarts and tech chop shops, who have the quick-sale-small-profit mentality and have little else to woo a client with except the ” you’ll get it cheapest here” pitch. So Jamaican companies thought this was the norm and treated all industry players the same and often with no due diligence to make their case. So you had hungry tech chop shops who were not in game of running a business, but out to simply mek-a-money. And Some of them were responsible also, for that not so clever ploy of charging near free for website development and then jack up the price on monthly web hosting fees. They were randomly hustling, not focused on growing a business.
2. Some Jamaican companies always believed you were out to rob them. And they’ll even say it in a meeting. They’ll say stuff like, “So this proposal you gave me, the price is like double or triple the real cost. So I can cut this in half and pay you that right? ” I’d often struggle to not give them the evil side eye or worst burst out laughing, then walk out. Again because we always came from a point of transparency, fairness, explaining a process which included showing the benefits of what we’re about to do. That kind of client banter used to piss me off big time. They didn’t understand our value because they too, didn’t understand their own.
But nothing more than hearing a client say,”..but my son or niece can do this for cheap or free.” To which I’d say in my mind of course-well why don’t you let them run your company too you jackass. These instances thankfully were few, but were enough for me to have fire 2 clients…and yes you can fire clients…I am big fan of “Customers are always right, except when they are wrong”.
So what happened in the Jamaican market- too many players, chasing too few clients – both sides with a find-it-cheapest-here mentality.
What did we do? We exited that level of the web development market and went upstream, Caribbean and Global. Upstream because our talents, training, ideas,skills and track record enabled us to; Caribbean and Global because our people network made entry easier and finally- this is how world has been working anyway.Of course you had more competition out there, but you also had a great pond in which you could catch all sorts of fish. I preferred those odds.
Game changers tend to be calculated risk takers and innovators; they are confident in what they bring; not bothered by failure, they just quickly learn the lesson and try again; they recognise the turning of the tide ahead of most, remain nimble and fearless enough to make a move even when it’s not so popular. They are the ones who turn heads and attract attention in the market place by doing something simple and so well you wish you’d thought of it yourself; they make small significant ripples in a niche; they invariably piss off the mediocre demigods who though they’d always dominate a market, even when though they ignore change and couldn’t give a damn about research and innovation.
We have a similar scenario brewing with social media. Once again, every nigga-bat-and-gingyfly is a social media expert. And yes you have those jackasses still saying they can get it done by their teen son or niece. They will also be the kind of company that gets pissed on by a game changing competitor they never saw coming. But don’t get me started. Except to say that a potential game changer in the social media space to watch is Socialingua.
My then partner and I went our separate ways in 2007 but you can bet what my focus is for my new company Connectimass right now…upstream, Caribbean and Global and very selective on who we’re selling to. We’ve also evolved from being just a service agency to also being an incubator that researches, tests and launches web and mobile products for clients wherever they are in the world.
We’re a homepreneurial multinational and we’ve found our sweet spot. Have you found yours?
In this Global Caribbean Web and Mobile Space are you a bottom feeder or Game Changer?
Do you have any companies on your radar who you’d consider game changers?
Game Changers to Watch
Socialingua – Social Media
Bakari Digital – web applications
Software Architects – mobile applications
Claro – mobile service provider
PileoJobs.com – Caribbean Job search engine
Game Changers We’re Waiting on
– Online Newspapers