Jacques du Bruyn and Ruan Oosthuizen started Flume, a digital marketing agency, six years ago. They count among their clients Nedbank, Hyundai, Canon, Adidas, Discovery Inc, Cape Town Tourism, Old Mutual, Ascendis, Hitachi… the list goes on. The name ‘Flume’ was inspired by the function of a flume, which is to direct flow in a particular direction. “That is exactly what Flume is. We channel your brand – its image and message – in the digital space with the aim of driving growth for your business.”
Flume offers a full spectrum of services from web development, digital and communication strategies to content creation, community management, public relations, programmatic and media buying. They also handle animation, social media filters and illustrative design.
Why did you decide to branch out with your own business/venture, rather than work for other companies or corporates?
JDB: That’s a good question. It all boils down to a good mixture of ambition and inexperience. The ambition to venture forth even if you fail, as well as being young enough to take the risk. I’d always wanted to build something that I can put my stamp on and help shape other people’s future.
RO: I always wanted to run a company so to start something was just a natural step. ‘When’ was the big question, and I think the earlier the better.
Give us a brief history of your media venture? What gave you the idea? How did it begin, and how has your business journey unfolded?
JDB: At the back end of 2012 Ruan and I (my business partner) decided to take the leap of faith and start a media company that would do things differently and focus heavily on client service. By the February of 2013 we opened the doors. Gradually from that opening day over six and a half years, we’ve grown to an outfit of 40 employees with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
During these six years we’ve often questioned which activities lie at the core of what we do and which don’t. We started offering a basic social media and media buying service,s which has expanded into a full-service digital marketing agency. There have been services that we have included and services which we’ve said no to. This has mainly come down to intuition and what the market needs from us.
What challenges did you face as a media entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?
JDB: Client education has always been a big one. A lot of the time marketing managers don’t even know that they need your service, and then when they do, they might not fully understand the technology, nuances and processes
Has there been a moment of success that has really stood out for you and that is your favourite on your journey? To what do you attribute your success?
JDB: When we started out we were nobodies with no clients. We mainly serviced small clients some of whom aren’t around today. But we finally got our lucky break with Mutual & Federal (today Old Mutual Insure) where we were able to build a substantial portfolio and sell on to other clients. Today we service the likes of Old Mutual, Nedbank, Warner Music, Yamaha, Tsogo Sun, Red Bull, Canon etc.
RO: Every time we take a risk to grow the company, it comes off. And every now and then when you look back and see how things have grown.
What characteristics do you think make a successful media entrepreneur?
JDB: You have to be able to make decisions where lines are blurry as well present yourself as a thought leader in areas where others may feel less confident
RO: People skills, knowing how to manage people and get the best out of them. Problem solving (every day there is a problem to solve).
Your advice to young media entrepreneurs or those looking to start new media businesses?
JDB: As Nike would say ‘Just Do It’ – anyone can start and run a business. The only thing that’s stopping you is you.
RO: Just start. Try do as much while you have another job because things take time to take off but just start and figure it out.
What next from you and your media company/venture? What can people expect? Exciting upcoming projects?
JDB: We’re going to continue to grow our client base and offering where it makes sense. Our ambition is to be the best online marketing business in Africa.
RO: Ensure we continue to add value to clients and grow by staying ahead of the curve.
What, in your view, needs to happen to encourage more media entrepreneurs, and not just that, help them stay the course?
More support from big business, more support from government and more community sharing.
How do you ‘pay it forward’?
JDB: We have a paid internship that builds and creates skills in young South Africans. I believe that there is no better way to learn than to learn on the job, and be paid for it.
RO: I am of the view that you give, give time and energy to staff, add value to your clients and help where you can. Don’t keep score.
What quote or passage do you think encapsulates you and your approach to business and success?
JDB: “Venture forth despite the uncertainty of acclaim.” ~ Amor Towles
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