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Community Focus: Tom Smolarek

May 31, 2019

1. How did your startup / business journey begin?

Pardon the pun, but my business journey which has led me to founding Bud was borne out a mentality of flux! I’ve always tried to find myself in positions professionally where I’ve had a sense of purpose and felt challenged to learn.

It’s probably not a coincidence that I’m in digital marketing then, as it’s a field that is always evolving and innovating upon itself.

If I was to go back to the start, it actually began in traditional media for channel Nine which was a real interesting experience getting exposure to media culture and marketing execution from a very established medium.

I’d always had a passion for technology growing up though, at one point deciding to follow marketing over computer science at university… funnily enough because I didn’t want to sit in-front of a computer all day on-top of my leisure time so I soon made the leap into digital marketing.

I still remember my very first client at a startup agency, with a monthly budget of $300 and feeling like that was the world, that someone was entrusting you with the challenge to grow their business and you were on that journey with them. Contrast that with getting to the corporate agency world and the fast pace of managing dozens of clients with six figure campaigns.

2. What are you working on at the moment?

Back to the start in a way, but with a mission to build something new in the space.

I believe growth marketing is just a better way to grow businesses when you get down to it.

But if you were to ask 10 people what exactly growth marketing is you’ll probably get 10 different answers or the line “do you mean growth hacks? I’ve tried a few of those,” with very little talk of execution.

To me it’s along more than just ad-hoc tricks or exploits. It’s building marketing around the customer journey, having the deep channel level expertise to execute and a fluid plan for growing a company in the most agile and efficient way.

Far easier said than done, but in a vertical where people exclaim the agency model is broken and its common to have a client on-board where you’re trying to salvage a previous bad agency experience, I think it’s a challenge worth trying to solve.

3. What do you love about being a part of the Spacecubed community?

The sense of community and the people.

The work Spacecubed does in the start-up space helping to foster great ideas and aspiring entrepreneur out of Perth really is inspiring, as a resident it creates access, there’s always a wealth of ambitious ideas and interesting people coming through the space you’d never have the chance to meet otherwise.

It’s also important the way they give back, as an attendee of a handful of meetups and an organiser for Junior Developers Perth providing a space for niche communities helps us grow and spread knowledge. As a resident, it’s great to be able to knock off work and catch a meetup at Flux or Riff and meet people that will really expand your mind and inspire you.

4. Can you share with us one of your favourite success stories?

The work I’ve done with the Hatchet guys has been really rewarding.

Working out of the space we’ve been able to work really closely on the project in an agile manner. It’s pretty cliché to say “I’ve got a client to first page in 90 days!” but its been very rewarding to have a client enable you to put all your UX & SEO ideas together end-to-end on a project.

From not ranking to 1st across a number of major business categories for them in less than 6 months was great validation, but it was the opportunity to execute ideas I’d been working on for a few years at other agencies and put them all together for the first time that was really rewarding for me.

5. What do you hope to achieve in 2019?

If you visit the Bud site (bud.digital) you’ll see we’ve got a tiny splash page up, but in the background I’m really excited to show people what we’ve been working on (#soon).

It’s been a great experience so far, building a business, experiencing working in a shared space, pushing the growth marketing service model and getting to mingle with really inspiring people out of the Spacecubed community.

I’m looking forward to building our brand, continuing to work doing what I love and show people what we can do.

If you’re interested in growth marketing and taking your startup to the next level, reach out to Tom on LinkedIn or find him at FLUX during the week. Alternatively, book a tour of our space today and join a community of vibrant, like-minded individuals just like Tom.