Ben Fogarty is the CEO and Founder of Holoscribe – a self-service platform that allows brands to create immersive digital experiences. We caught up with him to find out how Covid has impacted his day-to-day working life.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As Founder & CEO of Holoscribe, I’m responsible for setting and driving the strategic vision of our company and its products. This ultimately centres around recruiting the best talent and working as a team to map out our short- and long-term commercial goals, while ensuring we do so with the right culture and approach.
As a maturing tech start-up, we still need a build-measure-learn mentality as we continue to identify the market fit and scalability of our products. It’s my responsibility to be both the biggest believer in what we are doing and the harshest critic as we test, validate and pivot (where required) all our key assumptions.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
As a globally distributed team across the UK, Australia and Vietnam, the prospect of remote working was something we were already accustomed to. Switching to online meetings was technically straight forward but the greatest challenge has been replacing the in-person relationship building. The main disruption has been around how we interact and maintain our client relationships.
Typically, we love to get hands on with projects so in person workshops or catch-ups over coffee or a beer was a big part of my job before the pandemic. It means that there are a lot more follow-up emails, virtual check-ins and catch-up calls with both clients and prospects than there used to be. Then again, it’s something the entire world has had to contend with, so everyone has been more open to new ways of working.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
My life is almost entirely organised through daily task manager Sunsama – I’m not sure if I would survive without it. I have always been a fan of Google Docs, primarily because it encourages and simplifies collaboration. For virtual whiteboard or workshops sessions, I’ve been relying heavily on Miro. Lockdown has certainly made me appreciate these tools at lot more!
Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?
I’ve been impressed by the quick responders, those who were agile and brave enough to realise the world was changing but were willing to fail fast and take audiences on a journey of early adoption in an attempt to put their digital innovations at the forefront.
For example, one of our clients, The University of Sunshine Coast in Australia, realised their traditional way of hosting physical open days was not going to be possible. From the get-go they were open to exploring how new digital experiences might help them achieve their objectives. They weren’t afraid of trying something new, adapting quickly and looking at it as an ongoing investment rather just a once off event.
I admire a brand’s ability to adapt and embrace the unknown with a fast but strategic approach. Their reward for this bravery has been significant, with record pre-registrations for the upcoming academic year. I’ve also been impressed with the companies that did what they could to support their communities. For instance, BrewDog’s decision to transform the Aberdeen distillery from beer to hand sanitiser and give it away to those in need was a really positive and inspiring story to come out of the last few months.
What changes are you making to help your brand/clients connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
A benefit of being “experts at agile” is that we were quick to pull our entire team together to brainstorm how we as a company, with our skill set and expertise, could help communities and clients that may be struggling. This resulted in a number of activities for social good, from providing free resources and support for local primary and high schools in the UK to teach kids coding whilst studying at home, to offering our interactive 360-degree technology and services for free to charities like Inspire!, as a way to promote and raise support for the work they’ve been doing during the pandemic.
What trends have you seen over the last several weeks in your sector?
I’ve seen the appetite for innovation increase across most sectors. Companies that would have typically been apprehensive about launching a project in two weeks when we previously suggested it were suddenly interested in trying new digital experiences in fast and interactive ways.
We’ve also been big on trying to drive a trend away from using virtual reality to replace real life. We believe it will always fail to do this well, so instead we’ve been encouraging clients to see these new digital experiences as an opportunity to do something completely different to what the real life could offer. Many clients have taken up this challenge, and we’re now seeing a trend of using the technology in very different ways to what was previously imagined or typically adopted.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
We always encourage our clients to try to deliver the value proposition or the promise of the marketing message to their audience in the first 30 seconds. Then within the first minute deliver even more value than you initially promised. This is how you build satisfied, passionate and loyal audiences.
Over the last few months, we’ve see that audiences are not only open to new things, they’re desiring them. This presents an exciting opportunity for marketers but delivering on the promise (whatever that may be) remains critical to keeping the audience engaged. Whether brand marketing is promising a way to connect, a way to engage, a way to be inspire or a way to drive change, the user experience must find a way to quickly deliver on the promise or risk losing the audience forever.
What does long-term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
We have clear long-term goals linked with measurable KPIs but avoid being too focused on our distant future because it doesn’t give us the flexibility to respond to changes as they come up and could see us stuck on the wrong path. Instead, we head towards our long-term goals with short-term focuses. It keeps us lean, agile, iterative and focused on learning and pivoting when required. We validate everything with measurable success metrics (as opposed to vanity metrics) and do so often because we treat every good idea as an assumption. Our strategy is built around what to validate next, how we will test it and how we will measure it.