When we founded Star Digital in 2006, we could not have imagined how far we would have travelled since those beginnings in a converted garage on the side of our house. Starting out as a digital consultancy when very few people even understood what digital marketing was! We grew rapidly, and by 2013 we were a 24 strong digital commerce agency building huge e-commerce projects in Magento.
We really enjoyed the early years of running our agency, meeting lots of excited, entrepreneurial clients all over the UK. We had a number of firsts, we were the first company to fully integrate with Evo Auction, we helped run the biggest ever Groupon promotion in the UK, we were the first winners of the Email Marketing award at RAR. We partnered with the Magento Enterprise team right back at the beginning when you could still email the founder, and we loved what we did.
We made mistakes. We grew too quickly, we partnered too heavily with specific platforms, and we fell out with some of our good people. For that we are sorry. We went through steep learning curves and we stressed the agency too much. Problems mounted, Magento changed hands, the Magento 2 launch was a mess, we were caught in the tailwind. We changed to Shopify Plus, a great platform, we still love it, but we see the same future for the partner channel as Magento, and now in 2021 we have become truly platform agnostic with no allegiance to a single platform. We choose the right technology to deliver on our clients needs. We think this is the way the world is moving.
The Brexit indecisiveness hurt us, and we shrank back to accommodate changing digital budgets and project postponements. But we were brave, and in January 2020 we launched a new design first initiative in the agency. We were full of excitement for the post Brexit pent up demand and ready to go. And then in February, some of the team got ill. We couldn’t pinpoint it, seemed like a bad Flu. Then we found out about Covid.
We closed our offices at the end of February, ahead of the national lockdown and prepared everyone for the work from home revolution. Countless Zoom calls, Slack chats, Asana tasks and a general dread that this would be the end. We had to furlough a few people, and WFH wasn’t for everyone. But then something remarkable happened. We recruited some new people to replace the ones who moved on, and we did it remotely. We recruited far afield from our Northamptonshire home. In Somerset and Cardiff, we found UX/UI creatives that wanted to work on our exciting brands but longed for the freedom that WFH provides. We helped an old employee who had lost their job suddenly by giving them meaningful work until they found a new position – it was a humbling experience.
Our brilliant team got to grips with remote working really quickly, helped by technology and daily stand-ups they began to win new business and enhance the current client portfolio. We welcomed fabulous new clients like the Mum Club, Impervia, Honeywell Smart Energy in the USA and Aviela an exciting new health and beauty brand who all embraced working with us truly remotely, and we produced some great work together.
Throughout all of this the energy returned to our agency. Virtual beer festivals followed and there was laughter and banter. A new weekly ‘ideas’ meeting drove collective thinking from the team and we began breaking into new areas such as video and motion graphics. We discovered Webflow, part of the no-code revolution and this empowered our creatives to deliver beautiful web solutions from start to finish.
The team, although now geographically dispersed were having fun and enjoying their work. The clients were happy, engaged and enjoying working with us. It felt like the early days. In June 2020 we made the decision to give up our office space and go completely remote. It was bold decision, we knew that. It’s been empowering for everyone on the journey. No more commutes, no working late in the office, much more freedom to work when you want how you want.
Fast forward just over a year and we are like a new agency, excited about the future, working collectively to make creative excellence and results oriented digital marketing the heart of our business. We’ve recently recruited a full-time copywriter to work with our creatives and now we are relaunching our digitally native, dispersed but highly connected agency ready for a Post-Brexit, Post-Pandemic world. The new web site that we are revealing today showcases some of the excellent work we’ve delivered through the last year.
We are now looking forward to beginning conversations with clients from anywhere as we’ve proved through the pandemic that brilliance can be delivered remotely. We have meeting space in Northants and London and look forward to engaging with new clients looking to take their online business to another level.
As founders we look back over the past 15 years with mixed feelings, we got a lot right, but we got some stuff very wrong. We just wanted to say a genuine thank you to everyone who has been on the ride with us, staff and clients alike, and we want to say a really special thank you to the team that have worked tirelessly with us through this awful pandemic, remaining positive, excited and motivated. For that we are truly grateful and humbled. Here is to the next 15 years of Star, as we travel to places not yet reached and look to our amazing team to set out a new course of leadership to take us there.
Andrea and Roger Martin