Agency Advantage 56: Samuel Thimothy on Launching a Product by Scratching Your Own Itch

Header image for Agency Advantage podcast with Samuel Thimothy

In this episode of Hubstaff’s Agency Advantage Podcast, I’m talking with Samuel Thimothy of OneIMS who shares how his agency launched a successful product business.

Samuel and his brother Solomon founded the marketing agency back in 2006. Since then they have grown tremendously while generating remarkable returns for their clients. Their company has taken some clients from obscurity to authority, eventually leading to a successful acquisition.

Like many digital agencies, it took a lot of tools for OneIMS to get their job done. They tried to simplify their process as much as they could, but still found themselves using multiple disjointed tools, creating reports, and connecting all of the dots.

To scratch their own itch, they developed a platform internally to replace all of these various tools and streamline their efforts. The team knew they were onto something and spun the platform out as a stand-alone product, ClickX.

Today Samuel is here to talk about how getting rid of the third party tools transformed relationships with clients, how they managed to launch a SaaS company while growing their service business, and the challenges they faced along the way.

If you spend almost as much time piecing together reports from dozens of tools, or you want to launch a product of your own, this is the episode for you.

Get a full transcript of the interview with Samuel.

Key Takeaways

Scratch your own itch (7:00 – 13:30)

Like many digital agencies, it took a lot of tools for OneIMS to get their job done. They tried to simplify their process as much as they could, but still found themselves using multiple disjointed tools, creating reports, and connecting all of the dots. Paying for all of these tools wasn’t cheap, and combining those costs with the inefficiencies of the reporting process was having a significant effect on their profitability.

They knew something needed to change, but after trying dozens of other “solutions,” they found that nothing worked the way they needed. So they built a tool that truly solved the problem they (and other agencies) faced. Since they were scratching their own itch, they knew how to make things more efficient for agencies while easily giving clients the data they wanted.

By already having proven processes and a systematic methodology for doing the work, they were able to create a great product. If you’re building a tool for a market that you aren’t in, you simply won’t have that advantage. And trust me, if you’re thinking about creating a product yourself, you want every advantage you can get.

Building better relationships with their clients (18:30 – 20:30)

When you scratch your own itch, not only are you increasing the chance of solving a problem that other people have, but by solving your own problem, you are actively building a stronger business.

At OneIMS, they saw three main improvements:

First, this saved them hours of work every single week, which allowed them to spend more time on ROI generating tasks for their clients while increasing their own profitability.

Second, clients now had all of the data they could want at their fingertips, which let them easily see the progress OneIMS was making.

Third, because clients already have all the data, in their monthly meetings, Samuel and his team could jump right into strategy discussions and focus on what they should be changing and how it’s impacting the business. The more you can talk with your client about how to grow their business, the happier they will be, so this was a big win for OneIMS and their clients.

If you want to grow, you can’t treat it like a side project (23:00 – 29:30)

In the beginning, if you are just building a tool for internal use, it may not make sense to set aside dedicated resources to tackle the project. If you decide that you’re onto something and want to turn your tool into a stand-alone product, then it’s time to stop treating it like a side project and give it the resources it needs to grow.

Since the tool made OneIMS more operationally efficient, Samuel’s co-founder was able to step away from the agency and focus exclusively on growing the product, ClickX. By creating separate roles for the two founders, they are able to give both sides of the business the attention they need to grow.

Since OneIMS had healthy cash flow, they were able to do all of this without seeking external investment. If your agency is struggling, that may not be an option. If that’s the case for you, you can consider external funding, but I would strongly recommend against trying to grow your agency while also building a product. Instead, focus on improving the efficiency of your agency so that you can get your cash flows where they need to be to truly support a dedicated effort to launch a product.

Want to learn more?

To see what Samuel and his team are up to at OneIMS, check out their marketing blog. And if you think having a unified platform to manage campaigns and handle reporting would help your agency, head to Clickx.io and request a demo.

Resources mentioned

Chris Lema on How to Build (and Keep) High-Performing Teams

Jason Cohen on Designing the Ideal Bootstrapped Business

Marcus Sheridan on The #1 Reason Agencies Fail With Clients