The Force Is Strong With Kubix Digital
"10 years, really 10 years? has it been that long?" we sometimes wonder. So, we thought it's a good idea to tell you more about our journey and hope you will enjoy reading it.
But first, here is our super yummy birthday cake, for those who will also be under sugar shock over the holidays.
Rough One: The Kubix Digital Story
2007 was a big year for the internet and for us, of course. The iPhone was out, and so was the Kindle and Android, Facebook and Twitter went global, Google bought YouTube, while in Turkey YouTube was shut down for quite some years.
2007 was also the year when Kubix Digital was founded by us, four former Googlers AKA Xooglers. Good timing, right?
Later we continued as three, but first things first.
The four of us, Halide, Şafak, Gökmen and myself met in 2005 while working for Google in Dublin. We instantly clicked (not on the ad, of course) and after seeing the huge potential in addition to a low competitive agency landscape in Turkey I shared my entrepreneurial idea with the team and we soon started talking about how it would be to found an agency in Istanbul. Looking back, I can only say: Oh boy, we were so naive & thought it would all be so super-easy, yeah right! Guess we had too much Guinness in Ireland.
In November 2006 when Google decided to start an office in Turkey, I went as part of the “Landing Crew”, but also on my own secret mission to see how life could be in Istanbul.
To make it short: I hated it. I felt like the last Jedi. I spent the first weeks in a hotel close to the office crying my eyes out into my super soft pillow and thinking “What have I done?” I missed my life in Dublin, the friends at Google that have become my family for the last 2 years, my Hollywood-style cool party apartment, my managers and the team I worked with and so on. I talked with my parents lying to them “Everything is great mom, my room is clean, the people are nice” etc. Things moms love to hear.
The Last Jedis First Years in Business
Nevertheless, we didn’t give up on following through with our dream, that turned out to be a nightmare from time to time, of course. Starting from Zero, in a country you only knew from holidays, was, to put it in a light way, challenging.
Well, after some time I had settled down, made a couple of new friends, found a very nice accommodation (a friend's triplex) that later also served as our office for the first year of our agency’s lifetime journey.
Soon, the big day has come: X – tell mothership Google that we are all leaving, the 4 of us, and all at the same time. Well, that was some big news for Google and everyone around us. Our friends and now ex-colleagues were all very supportive. I cannot say the same about our families. They were not happy at all. “How can you leave a job at a company like Google?” They didn’t know much about Google or what our job there was exactly, but they knew the effect it had on everyone when they answered the question on what their kids were doing for a living. “My daughter/son works for Google” “Ohh, uhhh, wowwww” and so on. You know what I mean.
Anyways, that was done. Kubix Co-Founders, Halide & Şafak, by the way happened to be married to each other, jumped into their car, packed with all their belongings, plus their dog Kuby and a plant on Halide’s lap, drove all the way first to Germany to drop most of their stuff and then drive all the way to Istanbul.
Kuby, incidentally, was the inspiration for our agency’s name. While brainstorming on our business’s name I suddenly came up with Kubix. Everyone agreed and loved it immediately. So, “Kubix” was born. The “Digital” part came later with the change of our Corporate Identity. Kuby actually just turned 15. Here is a picture of him from his younger years.
Founding an agency in Turkey was easier than we thought. Quite quickly we had the bureaucratic parts solved and were even ready to write first invoices, but write invoices to whom? That was the main question. Well, we had bought tables and computers and the dining table was converted to a meeting room during working hours. Actually we were all set.
Luckily, in the beginning months of our business we were giving support to one of our existing clients from Google. Actually, we were not earning a monthly fee from him, but would get a chunk payment after 6-9 months or so. This meant for us we had to survive the first months on our savings. Looking back now, these were by far the toughest months that we had to go through.
Kubix Digital - The Empire Strikes Back
Not so long after that our ways separated with that big client of ours, so this meant we were back to zero or to be more precise: to minus something.
Too bad Will Reynolds’ Video “So you wanna work for yourself & try that entrepreneur thing?“ wasn't out at that time. If we had only known before :)))
Like in “Star Wars V – The Empire Strikes Back” we got up on our feet, out of bed and sitting all together at our desks at 9am in the morning and trying to get new clients on board. We were checking advertisers’ Google AdWords ads and when we found mistakes, we noted them down, gave them a call and tried to make it passed the switchboard (always be good to the switchboard. The switchboard is every salespersons best friend, once you treat them right, otherwise it can be hell :).
We bought and analyzed local business magazines (hard copy) as well, trying to create a list of business people that we planned to contact, collect email addresses, sending Kubix presos, and tried to arrange meetings. From time to time we attended Istanbul-based fairs, visited different company booths, approached exhibitors with the aim to get in contact with the people who were in charge of Sales and / or Marketing. You can see below our booth from the Cebit Eurasia back in 2007. We didn't pay anything for that by the way, we offered our Paid Search service to them and they gave us this in return. Looked pretty cool, huh?
These were a few of our strategies and our “Head of Sales” Safak aka “The Dog” tried to hunt potential clients down to get them on board, because we were in need of cash.
In the same context we shouldn’t forget that especially during our start, friends in Istanbul supported us as well. One of our biggest supporters was Ünsal, one of Safak’s best friends for almost 3 decades (which is 36 years by the way :). His company created our first website, he was a good matchmaker, bringing us together with prospects, and guess what, some of the prospects became one of Kubix’s first clients (thank you Ünsal).
Because of Kuby, Holly and Safak came to Turkey with their in Germany registered VW Golf V all the way from Dublin (of course they used at least two car-ferries, one from Ireland to Great Britain and another one from Great Britain to Continental Europe), one day, actually exactly after a period of 6 month, their car had to leave Turkey and wasn't allowed to enter the country for the following 6 month. Why do I write about this, because the Golf was our sales vehicle to attend client meetings & to drive to prospects, especially those, whom were located in Asia (maybe now you ask yourself WTF Asia??? Yes Asia, because Istanbul is the only city in the entire world based on two continents, Europe and Asia, and Kubix premises were located on the European part of Istanbul. This should be enough Geography for today :). Here is the proof:
After Holly and Safak drove back to Germany, by the way it just took them 1.5 days, they sold their car and flew back to Istanbul. In the meantime, Gokmen and me were looking after the business, which honestly wasn’t so much at that time, and of course after Kuby. Oh and he ate one of my ski socks and almost died...I’m not a good babysitter.
After the team got reunited, business trips within Istanbul’s Metropolitan Area, and believe me, this areas is quite big, were done by using Istanbul’s mass transportation system, which wasn’t the best. Some days it took us a whole day just to get to a meeting, attending the one hour meeting and and get back to to the office. Because we were short on money, we really tried to spend the bunch of coins we got wisely and taking a cab was something we didn’t want to use. It was to expensive and to fancy for us. I still remember, when we came together with friends from Istanbul and when they asked us how we’re getting on, we told them how business is, how we go to meetings etc. When they were aware of that we are using local transport, such as the BUS (woow strange) or even the dolmus (this is a smaller version of a bus, ……..exactly, you’re right, a “mini’ bus, but packed, maybe the same amount of passengers compared to a normal sized city bus :), our friends were rolling with their eyes and they tried to give us advice that, when a client or a prospect is asking you in a meeting how the traffic was (the traffic topic is one of the main themes in Istanbul, just to get a conversation up and running, same as the weather topic in Ireland :), never ever say anything about that you’re (we) using mass transportation.
In Turkey, business owners don’t use it, you have to tell them, that you came by car or taxi. This is how things are here in Turkey. That’s what our friends said…. Ok? Of course we didn’t stick to this rule, but in the beginning, there weren’t any other alternatives for us and we didn't make a big deal out of it. When this issue was a topic in a meeting, believe me, we were honest enough to tell the truth. Today we still avoid using our company car, (yes we have a company car, but just one. One for 3 partners) especially when our meetings are somehow close to any metro station.
Episode XIII - A New Hope
Şafak’s sales pitches became successful from time to time and shortly, we landed our first big deal with Otokoç/Birmot. I cannot describe how proud we were at that time. So time passed and we started having real clients for whom we could actually write real invoices. Out of the blue another miracle happened. We were invited to the first SEM corporate pitch in the history of Turkey - a very small and not very important company - it was just the Turk Telekom, the largest ISP and Telecom company in Turkey. Only 1 year in business and we were one of the agencies who were invited to that pitch. I still remember it like it was yesterday. This was huge for us. We worked on that pitch for a long time. We have made it to the shortlist and had a final presentation to make. And tatatataaaa...We won the pitch! Among all the big global agencies, Turk Telekom choose us for their Search Engine Marketing business. It was time to celebrate this!
The Force Awakens At Kubix Digital
If you are still not bored and would like to continue reading, I would like to tell you one of them.
Back in December 2010, after we have been working with Turk Telekom for 2 years, time had come for the renewal of our contracts. The weekend before I flew to Germany to meet my girlfriends for our annual reunion weekend that was planned months before (like all Germans are very organized). It was that year of the mega snowy winter in Europe, almost all flights were cancelled or had long delays. There I was, Sunday night, sitting inside the plane at Frankfurt Airport and waiting for 3 hours for the wings to be ice-free and actually make it to the take off. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to fly to Istanbul and let my partners down for the big day.
On a side note, Halide was 9 months pregnant and would have rocked the show anyways, (she gave birth to Ela 2 weeks later). I still remember her huge belly. Impressive isn't it ? :)
Luckily, there was a happy end, I made it safely just in time for the pitch and yes, we signed our contract. By the way, we are still working together with the Turk Telekom Group and Halide & Şafak’s daughter now turns 7.
Time passed and over the years we built a good client base that we serviced the best way we could always keeping in mind our mission to offer very high quality SEM service.
Our service was not limited to AdWords, we soon extended our services to Search Engine Optimization and Landing Page Optimization. Just 2 years after starting our agency, we got Serdar on board, who is in our eyes the most passionate SEO person in Turkey, no in the world I would say! In 2003, when Google was still in its beginnings, Serdar prepared his master thesis in Search Engine Optimization and Organic Marketing. I guess even his professors didn’t know what it was about. Here is a picture of Serdar, where he helped us set up an intranet in our first "office".
One of our first SEO projects was preparing an SEO audit report to Sahibinden.com, Turkey’s leading classifieds and shopping platform. It was challenging, but we have made it with flying colors. And soon we helped companies, small and big, with 360 degrees search marketing services, be it paid or organic. Not to forget the successful testings and UX improvements we made to increase their conversions.
By the way, if you wonder what happened to founder number 4, Gökmen, he left after 2 years in business from one day to another and went back to Dublin.
2016 & 2017 - The Return Of The Jedis
Yes, we have come a long way and yes, we are very proud of what we have achieved. We've now spent more than 12 years in total with Search Engine Marketing, and we have been through more than you can imagine. We have lots of stories to tell: funny ones, crazy ones and many successful ones. If you are curious, drop by at our office and we can tell you some.
We call us the “Small, but mighty” Digital Marketing Agency, but as Yoda said “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow.” This is also what we believe in and hard work does pay off.
After 9 years in business, 2016 and 2017 was the year of “Kubix Digital Marketing” where we wanted to show off our abilities, our success stories, best practices and case studies. We launched our new website together with a change in our Corporate Identity. Kubix was renamed into Kubix Digital, we changed the logo and the whole website content, started writing more actively in our blog, published guides and started with podcasts.
Additionally, we applied for international awards within our industry. The Drum Search Awards, The International Performance Marketing Awards, The European Search Awards & The MENA Search Awards, Landy Awards just to name a few.
As we are not only a Google Premier Partner agency, certified in all 5 areas; this year we were also honored to be awarded and shortlisted for different awards nationally as well as internationally. We received 2 Awards for “Best Small Integrated Search Agency” at the European Search Awards & MENA Search Awards 2017.
You can also enjoy our lovely videos on these two award shows:
Besides this, four of our submitted case studies were recognized by Google at the EMEA Premier Partner Event in Dublin. As a runner up in the Shopping category we were invited by Google to represent EMEA at the Global Partner Summit in New York amongst a handful agencies from Europe.
Being shortlisted at the Landy Awards for best ‘SEM Agency Of The Year’ was the creme de la creme. Also known as the Oscars in the SEM Industry, we felt honored to be among the cutting edge agencies in this industry.
Getting towards west and establishing our company in Berlin was another milestone in 2017 which we are proud of. Not only because our heart beats for our home country, but also we believe that we can provide strategic growth hack consultancy to startup companies in the booming Silicon Allee Berlin.
We have a very good reputation within the Turkish market and also internationally, long lasting client relationships, lots of Google published case studies. Our current team size is 13. Yes, you got it right: we are just 13 people, but thinking big makes us extremely efficient. Our motto is “Teamwork makes the Dream work”, this why we invest in each and every person that wants to follow us on our way to become the Jedis in our industry. Our focus determines our reality, so everyone who works for Kubix Digital knows our vision and mission by heart: independent we are, boutique we work, ownership we take, we support each other, we think and work smart. And last, but not least...In Search we trust and we really believe in what we are doing. We don’t say we are the experts, gurus or whatever, we still have much to learn as a jedi never stops learning.
There is a lot more to come in 2018 for us here at Kubix Digital, so get yourself ready to hear a lot more from us.
Until then, we wish you a Happy New Year and all the best for 2018!
May the force be with you and all of us!!
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