From a young age, it was clear that Kiel had an eye for detail, the saying “a job isn’t worth doing unless it’s done well” resonates throughout everything he puts his name to.
It wasn’t immediately clear that Kiel would one day own and run several successful agencies, but the entrepreneurial spirit was always present.
After finishing a degree in communications at UTS Kiel co-founded his first agency at 29 years old. His innate talent for business and strong leadership skills has seen his 2nd agency Digilante rank in BRW’s Fast Starters and receive 2 consecutive nods in Smart Company’s hot 30 under 30.
At only 3.5 years old, Digilante now boasts a client list of multiple household blue chip names and a team of over 20 employees.
Can you tell us a little bit about your idea? What is Digilante?
Digilante was born off the back of a need to service clients who wanted great creative digital work and also needed it fast.
What made you take the plunge and make your idea happen?
We wanted to do great work hard and fast, be able to turn out campaigns and ideas as quickly as our clients needed them rather than getting bogged down in long turn around times that might mean our clients miss their opportunity.
We live in an age where content is delivered and updated every minute so we wanted to create a mechanism/business that allowed us to react to what our clients need and what their clients want.
Can you please explain your business model
Traditional services model, head hours at an hourly rate.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
We’ve got some great new briefs and clients, some of which I can’t disclose but watch this space! We also work ongoing with our amazing regular clients including Eclipx Group whom we’re building 6 websites for, Qudos Bank – launching a new bank who were previously Qantas Credit Union and many more.
How do you make ideas happen?
Surround myself with great people and staff that I know share the vision. They constantly support Digilante in becoming a leading agency in the Asia Pacific – I really couldn’t do it without them.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
I’ve had several and continue to surround myself with people I look up to. I look back now and think how important they are especially in my younger years as a business owner. It can be daunting growing and running a business for the first time, so to hear and learn from their experiences was absolutely critical in my journey.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m not a morning person and prefer to work back late than get up early, but I’m always in the office at 9am. Nothing happens until I get a coffee into me and then I like to sort out my inbox. Everything from about 10am onwards is pretty unpredictable, my day can be spent entirely out of the office in meetings or I can be in the office all day checking in with team leads on the progress of key jobs and accounts. That’s what I love most, the unpredictability.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?
There are obviously the usual challenges like growth, cash flow, HR etc. But sadly I feel that there isn’t huge support for small business, especially when it comes to tax. The better you do, the more you grow, the more people you employee the higher the tax (punishment). I know there are programs and support services in place, but it really is hard to grow a business when you constantly have to consider how the growth will impact your tax position. It’s not incentivising small business to grow. It’s disappointing that it’s become the norm and we just have to accept it.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
A new way of doing things. For a lot of our clients, they are going through a digital transformation. Moving away from traditional bricks and mortar models to pure online plays. We have our finger on the pulse of digital and when something new and exciting crops up in the space I love to share it with our clients and work out a way we can introduce it for their business and customers.
What companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
Product wise you just can’t go past Atlassian. They are the poster boys for startup success and are doing amazing things for the space. I’ve also met with some other great companies with new and exciting products. Like Wootag who have a social video platform allowing companies to create direct calls to action within the video.
What about internationally?
VR is seriously going to change the game. Facebook’s Oculus, Google’s new Tilt Brush – these are just a few things that are going to change the way we consume and interact with content and how we as agencies do business.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Case and point with Facebook and Google. They are the ones pushing the limits and creating change. Likewise, Tesla is going up against the traditional giants of industry and imposing new and better ways of doing things. Big business can’t rest on their laurels anymore.
Speaking of affecting social change, Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?
There are a lot of great charities doing great work and it’s often difficult to find them through all the noise. Personally, I donate to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Can Do Musos, a local group that support musicians with disabilities.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Tech Crunch – keeps me up to date with all things tech
Fancy – just cool stuff every day that I spend way too much money on
Transfer Wise – a better way to transfer money internationally with much better rates
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?
Where do you see this space in 10 years?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?