Why Digital Marketing Is A Smart Investment

Why Digital Marketing Is A Smart Investment

In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Andrew Morgans and Darren Fox stir up the digital marketing arena with more insights. Our guest is the president and founder of Idea Marketing Group, a Chicago web design company offering award-winning web design, web development, and online marketing services to clients all over the world.

Covered In This Episode

An entrepreneur’s journey is not always filled with rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, you experience the lowest points at the most inopportune times. But these moments help you build resilience and creativity to become an even better business owner.

That is what happened with Darren and his company entered the COVID-19 fiasco. Discover how he navigated his way through it and made it out successfully. Here are the discussion points in this episode.

Get Started with Full Scale
  • Darren’s story of how he became an entrepreneur
  • What Idea Marketing Group can offer to its clients
  • The secret to succeeding and getting stable despite the challenges of the pandemic
  • Tidbits of wisdom for both startup and planning-to-be business owners
Podcast for Starting a Business

Highlights

  • Introduction to Darren’s journey as he turns his business dreams into reality (03:28)
  • The opportunity that started the Idea Marketing Group (13:39)
  • Challenging parts of managing a startup (20:03)
  • The secret to the company’s success (25:36)
  • Idea Marketing Group’s services for its clients (32:49)
  • Pivoting during the pandemic (37:54)
  • The project that Darren is looking forward to working on this year (43:43)
  • Advice for entrepreneurs taking the leap or just starting their own business (47:03)

Key Quotes

How are we gonna get to the next point? How are we gonna make this work? Especially like it’s one thing when it’s just you. But when you start to bring on other staff, you’re responsible for them. And that’s much harder.

– Darren Fox

Since we didn’t have a lot of things happening or work to put out, we’re like, you know what, let’s work on ourselves. What can we do to get us in a position so that when things start to come back, we’re gonna be even stronger coming out of this?

– Darren Fox

The last thing I’d add to that is practice. You’re talking about pro bono work. I was pretty much doing the same thing . . . I was learning. I was building a portfolio.

– Andrew Morgans
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Rough Transcript

The following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode.

00:00.00

Andrew Morgans

Hi, Hustlers. Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology; here to cover all things e-commerce, Amazon startup, and entrepreneurial here on Startup Hustle. Before we get started, shout out to our sponsor, FullScale.io, for helping you build software teams quickly and affordably. Our sponsors are what makes us get out there every day, be able to do this, get our podcasts out to listeners, and have amazing guests like we have today. I’m super excited about this one because we’re in the same space. And I like nothing more than being able to talk and learn from other people that have been doing it a long time. Our title for today is Why Digital Marketing Is A Smart Investment, and our guest for today is Darren Fox. He is the president and founder of Idea Marketing Group based out of Chicago. Darren, welcome to the show.

00:51.93

Darren Fox

Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s awesome to be here.

00:54.80

Andrew Morgans

Yeah, Darren and I were just chatting a little bit before the show, getting to know each other. He was waiting for me to get my podcast mike and set up. Going from being on the road but just chatting about how nice it is to be able to talk to other people who are doing what you’re doing. Instead of seeing them as competitors, being able to learn and lean into some of those things they have to share. 

01:02.80

Darren Fox

Is.

01:11.67

Andrew Morgans

So I hope we get to share some of those things with our listeners today because this show is by founders for founders. So we have a lot of people just like in our space, Darren, maybe not knowing exactly what we’re doing. But, you know, a lot of things we share, I think, can really go a long way for our listeners. So, please, I’m excited to get into your story. And typical of my shows on Tuesday, I love starting just to get to just know you a little bit better.

01:37.31

Darren Fox

Ahead.

01:44.78

Darren Fox

Sarah.

01:47.54

Andrew Morgans

You’re a founder of Idea Marketing Group, your first project.

01:52.53

Darren Fox

It’s my first. One of my own; so there are some other projects that I’ve kind of jumped into with other people. I just kind of helped out in different spots. But, yeah, this is my full-fledged venture. Yeah, yeah, early stage.

01:54.14

Andrew Morgans

Okay. Like an early stage.

02:08.70

Darren Fox

Tech ones, you know. Jessica, shoutout for her, that’s how I got to meet her way back in the day. And then some cellphone-type companies too, where I kind of jumped in and helped out a little bit with that too.

02:18.39

Andrew Morgans

Okay, well, let’s back up. Let’s back up. I jumped the gun a little bit. I’d like to start, you know, how did you start in Chicago?

02:23.72

Darren Fox

Yeah, so Idea Marketing Group is like my main thing and my only thing. Yeah.

02:35.50

Andrew Morgans

In the entrepreneurial world, is it something you kind of just fell into?

02:46.59

Darren Fox

Well, yeah, in the very early days, when I was little, my brother’s older than me, about seven years older. I would always go and hang out when he was doing sporting events. So if he was at a basketball game, I hung out in the bleachers. I was just kind of waiting, and I would actually draw pictures, and then I would go through the audience. I was actually selling those pictures to people for like ¢25 or ¢50; just collecting money to go buy candy later. That was like my really early stages.

03:19.70

Andrew Morgans

I love that.

03:24.82

Darren Fox

But yeah, originally, I went to high school. I thought I wanted to be an architect. That was kind of the direction I was going in, so all the classes I was taking were related to that. But then, as a hobby, I was really big into an online game called Age of Empires and just.

03:40.40

Andrew Morgans

Okay, me too, for the record. Um, I grew up from when I was little playing, so we got to go down that rabbit hole a little bit but keep going. Okay.

03:44.35

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so that’s probably down there. It’s dial-up modems and everything. Yeah, so playing with people from all over the world, and I was on a team, and we were a pretty good team, and it’s like, hey, you know we should really get a website for our team just to. Put our name out there, and I was like, you know what? Let me see if I can figure this out. Um, so I just started to like yeah, Google search now. Sorry, not Google because they weren’t even around back then, you know, just searching for HTML examples. I was kind of just picking it up and learning it as I went. Um, and that’s really where I developed a passion for it because I was like, you know what? This is really cool. It’s allowing me to be creative, but I still have that problem-solving approach like the architecture side and everything um, and it was like very early days.

04:32.31

Andrew Morgans

In here.

04:40.45

Darren Fox

Of the internet and websites and everything, so schools weren’t really teaching it. Yeah, so it was 2000 when I first dove in, so that was my junior year in high school. So.

04:43.30

Andrew Morgans

Let’s give the listeners an idea of that timeline. What was that timeline?

04:53.83

Andrew Morgans

Well, so we’re close. We’re pretty close, so I’m 35. I graduated as I think, a year earlier than my age, so like a 17 um I was in Congo, Africa in the year two thousand like moved back to Kansas City.

05:01.57

Darren Fox

Okay.

05:13.50

Andrew Morgans

December Two thousand and one December 25, like Christmas day, is when we came back. Um, and I can remember as I guess like for me I like to just really think about that time and like what was going on and like the internet and um, you know, growing up as a kid overseas age of Empires was a game-like.

05:14.19

Darren Fox

Yet.

05:31.78

Andrew Morgans

It’s so common now, right? We don’t have a lot of kids that listen to this show, so people more our age and above, I think um, but it was not common to be talking to people on the other side of the world like you know, even in a chat room. Um, and I grew up overseas, and the Age of Empires was one of those things. Um, I was actually playing Age of Empires.

05:34.44

Darren Fox

Yeah.

05:43.40

Darren Fox

And

05:50.97

Andrew Morgans

We couldn’t get fast enough to compete like that. But we would like to create local lands, you know, and I was like setting up a network. I was like 14 or 15, like with these mercenary soldiers in Africa. It was crazy. I’ve been thinking in my thirties about some of those times, and they were like.

05:55.10

Darren Fox

Yeah.

06:04.40

Darren Fox

Over cheese.

06:09.21

Andrew Morgans

There are these three brits that were pilots for the president at the time, and they loved the Age of Empires and um, they were like there’s this 14-year-old kid or whatever that like can network computers and like has the Age of Empires like um and they but my dad would drop me off over there, and we’d play and um.

06:13.76

Darren Fox

Yeah.

06:27.80

Andrew Morgans

I name my company Marknology. Um, as a mixture between marketing and technology like I was um, a band guy that also went to school for computer science and you know we did programming languages, and it was really broad when we went to school for that. So.

06:37.38

Darren Fox

FT.

06:42.72

Andrew Morgans

I’ve explained it a million times, just like when I found e-commerce. It was this perfect blend of being similar to being able to leverage the technical skills that I was just good at as a kid, like with computers and whatever, and my school and then my creative side, and I hated it like out of school. Um.

06:53.88

Darren Fox

In.

07:02.20

Andrew Morgans

Because it was just so monotonous and just like, you know, waiting on something to break and then going to fix it, and when I found E-commerce, Um, it was just like, wow, I get to be creative and use these skills. Okay, I don’t get to talk to people to mention the age of empires like I have a huge like a huge love for.

07:03.00

Darren Fox

Um, yeah.

07:12.80

Darren Fox

Yeah, exactly, yeah, you got to jump on that.

07:20.73

Andrew Morgans

And how else do you learn to scale? How better to learn scaling and strategy in the Age of Empires, right? Like I mean, it’s all about scaling your villagers, and um, okay, for another day, we’re not sponsored by AoE. Um, so you kind of built a website for that.

07:23.65

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so strategy Yeah, all about strategy. Yeah, and I just started.

07:38.59

Andrew Morgans

You built a website for yourself.

07:41.63

Darren Fox

Yeah, I built it for them, and then I started to dabble with it more. I started to talk to you just like family members. I had an aunt that has a photography business. So I built a website for her. And I just started to do this side hustle because, you know, I was the typical high school kid. I was working at a retail store pushing shopping carts and all that stuff, so I was just kind of doing this on the side while I was, you know, at school, and I actually built a decent business. I probably had like 20 clients or so in high school.

07:59.21

Andrew Morgans

Me.

08:10.68

Andrew Morgans

Um, okay, that’s amazing.

08:13.60

Darren Fox

And then I realized I had no idea what I was doing from the business side. So I took a step back, and I was like, you know what? I’ve got to go put myself in the industry and go work at some places and really like to get a better understanding of how the business side works. Um, so that’s what I did. I went off, and I worked at a sign company for a few years. It kind of ran the yeah creative department with producing signs, designing them, doing billboards like all that kind of stuff, and then from there, I had just gone into college. And I was going to, so you know, the school for graphic design that was kind of my passion because the web wasn’t still wasn’t really a thing yet and then all of a sudden it just started to get introduced so I ended up applying for a job where I saw was a web designer opening I went in I actually had a portfolio.

08:51.59

Andrew Morgans

Um, okay.

09:07.68

Darren Fox

And he was blown away that I had a portfolio and got hired right on the spot and then eventually went to college and finished my degree in web design too. So I actually ended up picking up two associates, one in graphic design and 1 in web design, because I didn’t know which direction I wanted to go.

09:08.80

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

09:23.70

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

09:25.61

Darren Fox

And it worked out for both. So yeah, it’s a blend of everything that I was doing.

09:29.40

Andrew Morgans

I love that, especially the architect piece because, like you know how it’s so common to call it like I think my buddy is like a systems architect, or you know, I don’t know what his official title is. I think the architect is in it. Um.

09:40.16

Darren Fox

Yet.

09:45.26

Andrew Morgans

But like this industry when we went to school even though I think I graduated college two thousand and eleven ten or eleven and I’m there I would like to choose from. You know, at least for me, like at that time I think it’s like networking insecurity or like programming or you know just pretty generic, and now they’re you know. They completely see our industry from, you know, um, a million different segments like being an architect and thinking about building digitally and um I never understood like I always thought I guess I had creativity in a box, you know, but things like even like Instagram everything has changed it where everyone is kind of creative and you think differently now.

10:09.20

Darren Fox

Yeah.

10:23.55

Andrew Morgans

Um, and being able to be creative within tech and within the web and within um, you know digital marketing was like wow, this is like made for me, and I was just you know, I’ve been obsessed for probably the last eleven years but also I was going to ask you when you said you started like you had about 20 clients.

10:33.82

Darren Fox

Yeah.

10:42.33

Darren Fox

Um, yeah.

10:43.40

Andrew Morgans

Um, at least for me, with no one doing Amazon services when I got into it, like as a service for other people and no one knows about it like what were you charging like in high school to build a website for someone.

10:53.45

Darren Fox

I don’t even want to say that because I would have clients today that will hear this and come back to me? No, I was, yeah, I think I was building websites for anywhere from 2 to $300. That was it. Um.

11:00.20

Andrew Morgans

No, it’s okay.

11:08.35

Andrew Morgans

I was gonna guess like one hundred and fifty-two hundred bucks probably like there was just no one had any idea you know what the work involved was or what to pay someone for that or um, but still as a high school kid. That’s balling, right? But um.

11:12.51

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

11:22.37

Darren Fox

Yeah, it was.

11:26.83

Andrew Morgans

Now people are paying. You know a Thousand X that in some ways. Um, okay, so you wrap you like rolling up a couple of degrees kind of just to figure out like hey I like what I was doing I was making some money doing it. I want to know how to do it better. You’re working at the sign company finishing up degrees. What happened after that?

11:37.20

Darren Fox

Yep.

11:43.94

Darren Fox

Yeah, so then ah yeah, I was picked up the next job was you know working as a web designer and I moved into a project management position, and I worked there for about five years, and it was just always in me that I really wanted to go off and do this on my own. So like, I even drew my logo, so like the idea logo that you see today is like what I sketched out on paper and I did it actually two years I had that drawing done before I finally had the courage to say all right now’s the time I’m going to go off on my own and. It wasn’t like the smartest time either. It was like 2009. The economy, you know, was in the craps. Um, so, but I was like, you know what? I just got to do this, and I got to take the risk. So. The other challenge I had was that I wasn’t really allowed to do web design when I was working there because it was like a, you know, non-compete situation. So I was like, you know what? Maybe I’ll do one more job, and then I can start to do this on the side. Um, so I applied to a company within their marketing department. So it was like a restaurant group out in Chicago, and I went in for the interview, and you know to ask the typical question, where do you see yourself in 5 years and I’m just an honest person; I just tell it like it is. So I was like yeah, honestly, I want to build up a portfolio and start to really do, you know, web development as my main thing, so that’s when he threw me the curve ball too, and he’s like, you know what. What if we gave you the opportunity to build all of our websites and we become your first client? I was like, holy crap, and he’s like, and we’ll let you have some office space within our building, so I was like yeah.

13:37.64

Andrew Morgans

I Like him already.

13:41.64

Darren Fox

I Had no idea what to do. I knew I had a jump at that opportunity because nothing else would ever come up like that. Um, so yeah I.

13:45.54

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah, that was incredible. That was an amazing opportunity.

13:53.80

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, and he’s super cool, and there’s still a client today. I’m still extremely thankful to have that relationship too. So yeah, it’s an awesome one, and then just work that.

14:01.56

Andrew Morgans

Okay, how you so you just like you worked that like there are multiple brands like a restaurant like multiple restaurants I guess like under that umbrella.

14:10.43

Darren Fox

Yeah, so there. Yeah, they’re a restaurant group, so they had eight different brands within it, so it was essentially eight websites, but I didn’t really have a plan after that. It was like, okay, I was gonna build these, but then what was I gonna do? I didn’t. I didn’t really think that far ahead. So yeah, I had to start thinking about the sales and the marketing and get my name out there. But luckily, when all that stuff came together, I started putting words out there and sharing them. You know, I really started to grow within the food industry because it’s like as soon as you get somebody with a big name like that.

14:43.26

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

14:48.95

Darren Fox

Then I started to do other restaurant groups, and others were coming out, and you know, it really started to grow, and I was like, you know what? I thought I was going to do this all on my own, but I can’t do this all like this is just too much to try to take on, so it was about a year. Three or so is when I really started to add staff, and you know to bring people on, you know, part-time to start just figure out how I could pay them. There are so many times that I never paid myself just so I could make sure that they had a paycheck and were taken care of. Um. So yeah, I had to be very Scrappy. So even when I go out to Chicago, I’m like an hour outside of Chicago. I did not know the city at all like I was a country boy. I grew up in corn. I don’t know what the city was like and I had to go out there.

15:38.85

Andrew Morgans

Are you from Nebraska, you from Kansas?

15:43.99

Darren Fox

Now. So like when you’re outside in the suburbs or like the far southwest suburbs. It just starts to switch to corn. So yeah, it’s not like that big city mentality. So yeah, I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t have any connections, and I didn’t have any money. So everything is.

15:49.19

Andrew Morgans

Got it? Okay.

16:03.50

Darren Fox

In Chicago, it is expensive, so you have to find parking. Um, luckily, I had a parking spot with the office space that we had, so what I ended up doing is I would just drive there, and I would walk to all my meetings.

16:16.45

Darren Fox

So some of my meetings were like three-four miles away, and it took me like an hour and a half to get there. Um, but that’s what I had to do at work, and then it was just hustling.

16:26.30

Andrew Morgans

I love that. Darren, I like it. I relate so much to that from you know, I was reflecting um I was kind of just like coining this thing in my head on the speaker crus I was just on for some reason got stuck in my head of like reflecting. Um.

16:39.93

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

16:45.87

Andrew Morgans

Reflecting on the moment in real-time like and just like it’s like you know how sometimes like it’s five you’re like looking at it back now, and you’re like wow that was like a crazy time and just like being in the middle of it right now and just being like thankful and grateful like you know for the opportunities I was like I’m on a cruise talking to people about business and flip-flop. Getting paid to be there. You know what I mean, it was just like it was a moment that was just like how is this my job and um I was with my sister. Yeah, I did it. I’ve put in tons and tons of work but also just like.

17:04.15

Darren Fox

Um, yeah, but she earned it.

17:17.70

Andrew Morgans

This e-commerce space wouldn’t have even existed twenty years ago, you know, like when my dad was traveling the globe and so just being able to like work from anywhere. Um, we are also like I’m a bootstrapped founder. Um. You know, it started with one of my sisters joining me and working way harder than she was getting paid for to help me get to the next level, you know, and then ah 2018 ah, our third employee like my goal was to get them part-time from part-time to full time and this year we started the year with 30 employees.

17:36.69

Darren Fox

Yeah.

17:49.79

Andrew Morgans

And that’s, you know, 2018 to 2022 not very long, you know, and it’s just um, yeah, it was months without taking checks for me. It was, um, I like discovering Airbnb and because I was like hustling out my apartment. You know in order to like making payroll and.

17:54.21

Darren Fox

That’s huge.

18:06.82

Andrew Morgans

Um, you know, sleeping on a friend’s couch. You know, it’s just very relatable. Um, I think one thing is being able to do the work yourself versus you having an idea for a web company and then having to hire developers. You know you can just really grind it out and make it happen when it’s you.

18:12.14

Darren Fox

Yeah.

18:25.23

Andrew Morgans

You know, versus like relying on that other thing and then just being willing to get in the dirt like to be successful, I think that’s something about you. Can you joke about the corn fields, but like my family’s originally from Oklahoma dairy farmers like just blue-collar workhorse type people you know in some ways that hurt me because I could work smarter and not harder. But I’d rather have those issues than have a hard time working, right? You know, just like um, growing up in a smaller community, your perception of like um, what community and honesty and all those other things but also just like hard work and what it takes to like.

18:48.67

Darren Fox

Right.

19:02.64

Andrew Morgans

Get something done as I think of a different frame of reference than people that don’t grow up around that kind of work ethic. So I commend you when I’m just like really relating to even just that origin story of like you know, walking um you know walking a couple of miles you get that thing and making it work.

19:19.19

Darren Fox

Did it, and yeah, it’s scary. I had so many nights just sick to my stomach. I mean, this is gross, but like throwing up because not just like stress or like oh my God What? Um, how are we gonna get to this next point?

19:20.40

Andrew Morgans

You know, sleeping on my sister’s couch. Um.

19:28.11

Andrew Morgans

Were you in a relationship, or were you? I’m sorry too.

19:38.69

Darren Fox

How are we gonna make this work especially like it’s one thing when it’s just you. But when you start to bring on other staff. You’re responsible for them. And it’s that much harder. That’s the tough part.

19:42.22

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

19:48.68

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

19:53.80

Darren Fox

Yeah, I maxed out all of our credit cards. My wife luckily had a job, and we’re talking about getting ready to start a family. I was like, if I’m going to do it, I gotta do it now because there’s no way that, like once a kid comes, I’m going to be able to take these risks. Yeah.

20:04.41

Andrew Morgans

Risk that? Yeah, 100% said the same thing; if I had had a kid or a family, I don’t think I would have done what I did because I just, you know, I didn’t have the time, in the beginning, I was working a hundred-plus hours.

20:19.49

Darren Fox

Yet.

20:21.40

Andrew Morgans

Between my day job and the side hustle that was turning into Marknology, I wouldn’t have done that. I would have, you know, checked out to play with my kids or whatever the case might have been, so just like you know, in hindsight looking back and being like I know what it cost or what it took you to know.

20:35.81

Darren Fox

Boy.

20:38.29

Andrew Morgans

The stress level people see your lifestyle changing, right? Like, let’s say you’re driving a nicer car or not even that crazy. Can they just tell you’re doing well, right? But the difference is like at times, and the stress is actually more because you have 30 people now that you’re responsible for.

20:47.42

Darren Fox

Um, yeah.

20:57.23

Andrew Morgans

Do you know? And um, it’s way different. Um, because you all have to level up mentally and emotionally and all these things too as a person as you’re like you just had a passion for the web, and now you’re in charge of people in charge of people’s businesses and like you know in charge of like. Messing up all these different areas from communication to finance to culture to hr to like legal to tax to like so many areas to mess up even if you’re good at 1 area you know and it just becomes um I think it’s something that’s just worth talking about that level of stress and like I used to not be able to speak in front of people without.

21:18.73

Darren Fox

Yeah.

21:33.63

Andrew Morgans

Ah, like stuttering or like getting tongue-tied or and I still ah think faster than I speak, but you know it used to be really a problem for me. Um, and these are the things that, as you know, people think you’re confident or ego or whatever.

21:34.55

Darren Fox

And

21:49.55

Andrew Morgans

Um, but you’re sick to your stomach for you to get out of the car as you know, um, it’s just its stress. It’s stressful at a level that I had never experienced before, and that was a big part of really getting going.

21:51.57

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

22:03.45

Darren Fox

No yeah, yeah.

22:04.37

Andrew Morgans

What I think was like at first it was like cool getting some stuff easy and then you start facing people in person and having people depend on you and oh it’s ah it’s you’re for your friends and your family that are around you and not understanding. Maybe because you can even communicate it, it was a very tough time.

22:18.91

Darren Fox

Oh yeah, yeah, for sure, there are definitely moments that I regret that I’ll never go down, like when my daughter was born, bringing my laptop sitting on the side of the bed and still responding to calls and emails because I felt like I didn’t.

22:21.36

Andrew Morgans

So you were.

22:36.58

Darren Fox

I was going to suffer, and I may not survive like the next couple weeks like, but yeah, looking back at that, I’m like yeah, why the hell did I do that. But it’s like, you know, it’s that weird growth opportunity that you’ve got to go through.

22:39.41

Andrew Morgans

Um, yeah.

22:48.70

Andrew Morgans

Yeah, and it’s easier saying that in hindsight, you know, and being like, um, but the reasoning for that too. A big motivation for me is my family and helping us get more financially stable in those days, including myself, and um, it wouldn’t have been there if it was like that. That’s what I felt at that time.

22:57.98

Darren Fox

Um, if.

23:08.60

Andrew Morgans

Bigger than this moment. This is like, you know, the family depending on this kind of stuff so not necessarily regret just gratitude for where we are now we don’t have to miss so many of those moments you know? So our idea marketing group like I want to hit the ball here in regards to.

23:08.80

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

23:18.74

Darren Fox

Right? That’s true.

23:25.93

Darren Fox

A.

23:27.75

Andrew Morgans

Really talking about what you guys do, and you know we’ve had a chat before one before this where we’ve just talked about synergies between our companies but nothing like um in-depth and some of the stuff you’re working on some of the stuff you’re passionate about um. Let’s jump into those like ah before we get there to shout out again to our sponsor, FullScale.io helping you build software teams quickly and affordably and if you’re doing ah Marketing. We’ve got Darren here on the line.

23:42.18

Darren Fox

Um, yes.

23:53.24

Darren Fox

Yeah.

23:55.70

Andrew Morgans

Okay, so you’re like, you’re making it work. You’re in Chicago, and that is the reason I’m in Kansas City. The cost of living is low, and way easier to get my startup going. In my opinion, this is home but I am also very aware of it not being Chicago or New York or Miami and the difficulty of, like wow, getting around in those cities and making it happen.

23:58.58

Darren Fox

Yeah.

24:14.77

Andrew Morgans

Um, let’s just fast forward a little bit, so you get the business off the ground. You’re starting to grow in the restaurant industry like referrals, and you start with a big name that’s like, wow, you did that website. You must be able to do ours.

24:19.81

Darren Fox

If.

24:29.23

Andrew Morgans

Um, you start scaling the team and hiring some people after three or four years. I did the same thing where I was like, man, I know how to do all these things across the Amazon, but I actually like being part of a team, and there are people way better than yet in some of these areas like the design for example, um, over the next few years like.

24:41.17

Darren Fox

Yeah.

24:47.98

Andrew Morgans

Coming to present helps me catch up to present from those early days in Chicago to like what we’re working on today.

24:53.23

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, so I mean, I wouldn’t be where I am today without making sure that I had the right people with me too, and I have, ah, you know, an amazing team. So a huge shout out to them, and I have, ah, you know, a lot of people that have been with me for a long time. So. Um, Haley is an awesome person. You’ll see her name all over all of our reviews and everything. You know, she was an intern, and that’s how she started with me, and then we’ve actually moved her in like five different positions within the company. Um, and then you know other people.

25:20.12

Andrew Morgans

Okay.

25:29.56

Darren Fox

Lens has been on the team for like eight years. He’s our backend developer, so that was really how I was able to get to where I am now, just making sure you’re hiring really smart, talented people because just as you said I can do it, but I’m sure there’s somebody that can do it better and more consistently too. Um.

25:45.40

Andrew Morgans

So I feel like I want to ask a question there. I think I had a little bit of a leg up in that my sisters were the first ones that believed in what I was doing on Amazon.com, and so they’re like um, they like my first one moved she had her master’s in engineering.

25:55.16

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

26:01.74

Andrew Morgans

Gave up that career to kind of join what I was doing when I was getting momentum, and so she just watched me, you know, it was probably six months or a year of just like watching me speak to clients and do fixes on Amazon spreadsheets and started just taking over for me, but I was very careful with the like releasing the quality of our work.

26:12.59

Darren Fox

You.

26:20.99

Andrew Morgans

So I just needed to do a good job. I just believe in reputation and trust in the marketing space, and you know a lot of agency owners have gone um with outsourcing talent and outsourcing employees, and I totally believe in all of that. But for me, like in the early days, I felt like I had this thing that I.

26:31.10

Darren Fox

Um, yeah.

26:40.48

Andrew Morgans

I was worried about who I was going to work with and the team I was gonna build, and it needed to be collaborative and cohesive. Um, how did you pick those first few that you were like? These are people that I like to be on my team. Was it local there in Chicago people you knew? How did you find those first?

26:53.35

Darren Fox

It was local. Yeah, so no, nobody that I actually knew. Um, so with Haley’s example, that was actually I went back to the college that I graduated from, and I spoke to the web design class. Um, so I was actually there speaking, and then I got to walk around the class and look at everybody’s portfolios of the things that they’re working on and everything, and that’s when I came across hers, and I was like, you know what we should talk more and then like she actually applied for an internship later, so that’s like how that you know started.

27:26.92

Andrew Morgans

Okay.

27:30.44

Darren Fox

Um, and then for the development position, that was like the hardest one, and just like you prefer everybody local, I never used overseas contractors. Everything that we’ve done has been in-house, and ah, I’m not against it either. And now there’s a lot of agencies that go that route and sometimes shame me for the route that I’m going, but ah, but yeah, yeah, so I actually found him.

27:57.80

Andrew Morgans

That’s all I was getting at.

28:02.19

Darren Fox

Instead of people applying to me, I was proactive, and this is going to sound absolutely terrible. But we still joke about it today as I was actually looking at all the resumes on Craigslist. Um. And I was going and looking at what they are actually producing because a lot of agencies make this mistake that, you know, they only hire people with a college degree. I just think that’s bullshit. Um, I think it’s all about the person and the talent that they have. So that’s what I was focused on. I’m looking at you know what are they actually doing and what are they producing and at the time, he was working at an electronic store selling Tvs and was just kind of doing this stuff on the side. So that’s how I came across him too. So yeah.

28:50.24

Andrew Morgans

Looking more for people that were passionate about it. No, okay, I love that I love the actual feedback, and we have a method here, too, which is getting interns from UMKC here in Kansas City. Um, it’s at least how 3 or 4 of our team members have joined the team.

28:53.15

Darren Fox

There are a lot of hours spent just looking for people.

29:08.38

Andrew Morgans

Doing an internship with us and seeing if they’re a culture fit and because mostly it’s about if people want to be there. They do good work, and if they don’t, you know their work suffers, and I think one thing you found was that lifestyle move.

29:14.94

Darren Fox

Um, yeah.

29:23.70

Andrew Morgans

Someone wanted to be doing it. You know he wanted to be doing that on the side. He is similar to you when you were like Ray to make a move and wanted to be doing that. No, that’s amazing, and stuff I’m still working on now as I’m building my team and continuing to scale is like, who are the people that in my space, at least right now, people are getting poached pretty quickly. You know, so there’s not a lot of.

29:40.75

Darren Fox

Check.

29:43.52

Andrew Morgans

Talent and the Amazon space. So the big companies are kind of swooping them up, and it’s like you know how you find people that are, you know, team-minded and culture minded, and what can I give them that someone else can’t give them if it’s not money is it. Lifestyle is that quality of life is it time with their kids like.

29:56.40

Darren Fox

Yeah.

29:59.85

Andrew Morgans

What are those moves? Um, yeah, thank you for sharing. Okay, so you start building your initial team like huge to be able to scale and get out of like some of the weeds of what you’re doing and to the next level. Um.

30:01.23

Darren Fox

Yeah.

30:13.76

Andrew Morgans

Did you guys stay in restaurants, or did you guys like to start crossing industries in regards to what you’re working on?

30:18.12

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, we realized that if we were gonna grow. We had to start looking at other industries too. So we did expand. You know we were doing a lot of work in the nonprofit space as well as in manufacturing. Ah, but then.

30:23.45

Andrew Morgans

Um.

30:34.59

Darren Fox

The biggest space for us was actually the special event industry, so companies that would put on trade shows, you know audio video companies like all those different ones, and then I was invited to be on the board.

30:36.73

Andrew Morgans

Okay.

30:51.26

Darren Fox

With the international special events society in Chicago, yeah, the short version was Isis which later found out was a bad idea, and they renamed it and rebranded it and everything. So yeah, I was like 1 of the youngest board members there too. So you know we were really building up that portfolio too. Unfortunately, when COVID hit, that industry completely disappeared within like a day, so almost all the business left, and we had to basically go into survival mode and try to figure out what we were going to do.

31:26.11

Andrew Morgans

Can we talk about that pivot? Okay, okay.

31:29.23

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, um, and luckily you know, as I said, we still had some of those other industries that we were working in. It’s just like a lot of the retainer type work that we had was just gone within a few hours.

31:44.60

Andrew Morgans

The ongoing work That’s like coming up. But so let’s talk about an idea marketing group I don’t think is for the listeners. We’ve said exactly what you guys do or how you help. We’ve talked about your career in web design. But um.

31:46.91

Darren Fox

So yeah.

31:53.37

Darren Fox

Stern. Yeah.

31:59.30

Andrew Morgans

Outside of the website space, is it like a, you know, a website builder, and you’re done? Is it ongoing? Um, what kind of work. Do you guys? Do um, ongoing.

32:05.41

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, and I probably should have mentioned this when I was talking earlier, but when I went off on my own, the actual name of the business was idea web design and internet marketing, a ridiculous long name I ended up shortening that way later.

32:17.93

Andrew Morgans

Okay.

32:24.22

Darren Fox

But when I went off on my own, I saw the opportunity because I was working at a place that was only building websites, and I was like, you know what? There’s so much more that has to be done after a website’s done that why are we not looking at all of this stuff of continuing it.

32:33.24

Andrew Morgans

No.

32:40.20

Darren Fox

So that was really my goal when I started. The agency is to be a custom web design shop that specializes in website marketing. So that way, we can build the website to make sure the foundation is solid.

32:47.58

Andrew Morgans

Okay.

32:54.50

Darren Fox

And then we can do all the different things on top of it like the SEO, the content marketing, the paid advertising um all the things that like drive traffic and then you know later adding on like conversions and all that other stuff that comes in with marketing too. So that’s really our focus. We’re known for building websites. But then we continue the relationship by doing website support and ongoing marketing, so those are core services.

33:20.30

Andrew Morgans

Because you can like someone who can make or design a product you know, and they’ve created something beautiful. They put all their energy into it and be like, oh shit, I also have to market it and be like I’m not good at selling myself or selling. So, you know, maybe they weren’t bartenders. They hadn’t gone door to door. They hadn’t sold pictures in the stadium as a kid like in that selling part can be like you know, super daunting like for me. Um, I’ve never liked the cool kid growing up or, like you know, had a lot of people picking me for teams and that kind of stuff. So like.

33:43.54

Darren Fox

And

33:55.38

Andrew Morgans

I mean you, you carry that with you to an extent, right? and it was just like I like doing stuff on my own so that people don’t have to choose me, which is the same as selling, right? I don’t want to have to sell myself to anyone like my work will speak for itself. Um.

34:02.48

Darren Fox

Rent it.

34:08.29

Andrew Morgans

So that was definitely like a hurdle I had to get over, but something super overwhelming and why the marketplace for me was a huge win because, um, instead of doing that like direct selling, I found this thing to obsess about like if I tinkered correctly if I got the data right? If I got the messaging or creative, then it was like it would sell, you know. Um, and I love that about what I did um on the b two b side still have to sell, but it was like if I crank out enough great work and get a good portfolio because Marnology is built the same exact way. There are a lot of agencies that do just advertising, or just creative or but I was realizing, um one I can help people like with. Bad stores. That’s one thing that we do, but in general, if we can set it up and make sure the foundation’s amazing, and then we have phase 2 that’s, you know, initiate these marketing moves or these strategic moves or these growth content moves over time and then.

34:51.27

Darren Fox

Me.

35:03.10

Andrew Morgans

Number 3 What’s the next phase of like okay, we’ve got that dialed in how do we do even more um, and it was out of a desire to just actually get good results. Keeping customers by making them win is my business model. I don’t want to have to sell. I want to get clients that make so much money with us that they don’t go anywhere else.

35:04.70

Darren Fox

Right.

35:20.74

Darren Fox

Um, yeah.

35:21.87

Andrew Morgans

It was kind of my thinking but also why I built a full service. Um, you know the agency. So do you guys help with, you know, social media content creation, as you know, all those kinds of things, or is it more traditional like a blog?

35:33.17

Darren Fox

We do the yeah we do like content creation like the blogging landing pages those kinds of things, but we don’t manage organic social, but we will help with like the paid advertising. Ah, you know our belief is that.

35:42.47

Andrew Morgans

Okay.

35:49.14

Darren Fox

Organic social really needs to come from within the company. It’s so hard to do it on the outside unless it’s an agency, and that’s all they do. Then they’re set up to be really good at it like we’re really good at anything website related.

36:00.14

Andrew Morgans

Yup, it’s very caught like I’m with you, and I actually dabbled in that, and I do it for our own brands. But I’ve pulled back in doing and offering it for other brands because to do it at a very high level. Um, we need to charge quite a bit.

36:14.94

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

36:15.85

Andrew Morgans

And you know, I feel like the industry or brands just aren’t ready to fork that bill up to do it the right way yet, and the ones really doing content creation at a high level are the owner-operators like they’ve built their business on creating content and like that’s why they’re able to do it at that high level. But if they’re outsourcing it. Um, you know you’re just talking about big tickets, and it’s not a small business. Um, you know that is forking out six-seven $8000 a month to have amazing content across the board. You know, it’s very relatable to that. Okay, so you guys are like offering the gambit. We talked about Twenty Twenty and kind of getting hit.

36:36.74

Darren Fox

And

36:43.60

Darren Fox

Yeah.

36:53.52

Andrew Morgans

Um, and you know, share as much as you’d like. But I think part of what’s awesome about the pandemic is some amazing ideas and pivots and, as you know, things that really entrepreneurs had to put their entrepreneur hats back on. Maybe when they hadn’t for a while. Um, how did you guys? How did you guys adjust at that time?

37:07.20

Darren Fox

Yeah, you know, so really, what did we do? Yeah, it’s still an ongoing process. But what we did was really just focus on our process of love.

37:13.42

Andrew Morgans

Or still adjusting.

37:23.62

Darren Fox

Here’s how we go through a project. Here are all the different steps, so you know, since we didn’t have a lot of things happening for work to put out. We’re like, you know what, let’s work on ourselves. What can we do to get ourselves in a position so that way when things start to come back. We’re going to be even stronger coming out of this than we went into it. Um. That’s really what we did. So luckily, you know, I learned early on that it’s smart to build, and like a nest egg that I pay myself conservative, I don’t pull it out. Yeah, I put money aside so that way I can always pump money back into the agency. I think every business needs to do that, and they should. You should always have at least three months of salary that you can pay out if you don’t get any sales whatsoever. Obviously, covid was way longer than three months, so we had to get a little more creative. Um, but yeah, that’s really what we did, and obviously, we still got some work here and there of good projects and everything. But yeah, we really started to focus in and like to pick a niche like that. Our bigger problem is we’re more of a generalist agency. So what we did coming out of covid is we’re like, you know what? We really need to lock-in. In a particular industry, and in this case, we ended up going to routes, so you know we’re manufacturing in CPG because those are the two that the team gets really excited about working on what we have a lot in our portfolio. Um, because I didn’t want to go all-in on one, I know that was the advice I kept getting from a lot of business coaches and others, and I was like, you know what, guys, I was pretty much pretty big and special events industry and that almost killed us I don’t really want to lock in with just one.

39:10.36

Andrew Morgans

And

39:12.60

Darren Fox

Do you know the niche again? Um, so I want to diversify just a little bit. But yeah, that’s really where we’re at right now, and we’re working with some really cool brands like Carmex Lip Balm, which is a customer of ours, and eagle brand foods, Bridgford foods. So we’re still kind of in the food and beverage space. But really more like the retail manufacturers.

39:34.28

Andrew Morgans

I love it, and Marknology is literally aligned almost in the same way I just started going up the food chain to Manufacturers because you know they’re someone that can. It wasn’t that I had a pandemic in mind, but it was honestly thinking about that like customer lifetime value but within my own business. And like what kind of customers make long. You know, thought-out decisions if they go into a project. It’s not like they’re going to change their mind in a month. Manufacturers aren’t built to exit. Manufacturers are built to stand the test of time, right?

39:55.55

Darren Fox

Man.

40:04.72

Darren Fox

There.

40:07.41

Andrew Morgans

Um, that was me, and it was like, let’s get rid of the distributors in the middle. Let’s get rid of any middlemen, and if Amazon is a channel that most people bitch about having high fees. Um, it was well. They just do not understand that it’s like 18 things coming into one fee, right? Versus like on a website, you build all of that out, and you know, but it was um.

40:20.44

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

40:26.29

Andrew Morgans

Manufacturers will have the highest chance of, you know, being able to be extremely successful on this platform. I just have to do the job of convincing them to go direct and, you know, change their business models in a way. Um, and then and then also um, you know food in the pandemic. So are a lot of the food brands. We’re working with.

40:36.46

Darren Fox

And

40:44.45

Andrew Morgans

Um, Amazon-like exploded right during the pandemic. Just anything like that was in the right industry was exploding, right? So we had them just positioned, and the timing was right and fortunate for us. Um, we know we’re all in goods.

40:49.10

Darren Fox

And

41:01.99

Andrew Morgans

Um, so everything on Amazon, you know that we’re selling products. Um, there were very few that were in industries that took hits, so you know, outdoor and garden, and it wasn’t that we were signing a lot of new business, and we definitely lost some clients even in 2020, but for the most part. No, we just weren’t growing.

41:17.71

Darren Fox

Um, yeah.

41:21.99

Andrew Morgans

So you know there’s a certain amount of like onboarding new clients. That’s just a huge part of revenue growth. Um, but it was, you know, the food brands um manufacturing because one thing I really liked about it is a lot of the food brands we work with at least are brands that were built to solve a problem. Um. You know whether it was like a health product or something for kids or for family or like so they had this like good story attached to them. You know which is what you’re looking for and manufacturers that were also like a lot of our manufacturer us manufacturers, so it was honestly like brands or.

41:50.21

Darren Fox

Isn’t

41:57.35

Andrew Morgans

Or a business that had that story element built-in which is a big part of selling and gave us a lot of love if you have to create content and a pipeline to sell having ones that have a good story. Make it so much easier to work with. And I can see why your team liked working with those types of brands.

42:09.92

Darren Fox

Yeah.

42:16.61

Andrew Morgans

Ah, you know that’s something we’ve aligned with, and so are the brands. We’re working with the team like we need to enjoy them. Even the people on the other side are like that because if they enjoy what they’re doing like they do so much better work. Um, no, so that’s, that’s ah, that’s.

42:26.83

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, definitely has to be mutual.

42:31.63

Andrew Morgans

That’s ah, absolutely amazing, and my mom would be like, oh my god, Carmack. She’s probably their biggest customer. I think, ah, my mom has been a Carmack customer for as long as I can remember. Um, okay, like we’re getting. We’re getting close to the hour. I’d love to have a couple more questions for you. I’d love to run by you like 1. Um, what’s something you’re working on.

42:44.48

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

42:50.65

Andrew Morgans

Either as Darren or as, like you know, the CEO founder of your company. Um, that you’re excited about 2022 in regards to taking the business forward.

43:01.51

Darren Fox

Yeah, so I mean kind of what I was sharing by really picking the industries I hadn’t even told my team yet, so they’ll hear it soon. But. Yeah, we’re really going to just rebrand our entire website and just spend some time on that. So I’m excited about that. Um, I know my team is probably going to be scared because I’m like the biggest pain in the ass client that we have because I Nitpick everything. Um. But yeah, I think that’s the part. That’s really exciting for me, and then just really looking at a lot of professional development opportunities for the team as well as you. So it’s one of those things like I’ve been in it for a while now. And yeah, anybody that’s going into this business. You start with a passion. You get really excited, and then you start to get a little bit more hands-off as you grow. So like now, I don’t really design or code anything anymore. But I definitely go in critique and coach and talk through things, so that’s where my shift is really building up. Everybody else on the team is what I get excited about now.

44:07.96

Andrew Morgans

Man, I love it. You are just echoing everything I believe in my process. You know my job now is to set my team up for success, and you know I’m obsessing about leadership and management communication styles and all those things so that I’m not in the way.

44:23.79

Darren Fox

When.

44:26.30

Andrew Morgans

You know, but you learn one thing, and then what you learned is not what’s going to get you to the next spot, and you know it’s constantly trying to evolve, and I’m like now my job is to serve and to create systems and like you know the ability to succeed. Um, but as I’m building those out, I’ve kind of found my passion again like you’re talking about where you kind of you’re trying to learn to get out of the way.

44:29.63

Darren Fox

Right.

44:45.71

Andrew Morgans

You know and not micromanage and like you know, empower others and then um, you need to connect some of the areas like the reason you’re the entrepreneur and the founder is that you have a skill set that says I can go into a new area and make it better or create something out of nothing.

44:46.70

Darren Fox

M.

44:59.93

Andrew Morgans

And not everyone has that, right? So it’s like pulling yourself out and then pulling yourself back in when you’re needed into a new area like you know, because that’s what you bring to the table and um I agree in that um I feel like I really found my focus in 2021-2022 again like where we’re going as a company, and there’s like.

45:03.83

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

45:19.13

Andrew Morgans

Um, I get really excited about that. Just like when I know exactly what we should be doing, what we should be focusing on, or like at least I’ve said, that’s where we’re going to go, and we’re dialed in. Um, there’s energy. You know it might make the team a little bit nervous too. But there’s just an energy about okay like um, you know we’re working on us.

45:29.94

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah.

45:38.50

Andrew Morgans

Instead of just on you know clients and outwards facing stuff. So that’s awesome. Okay, so we’ve talked about what you’re focusing on, and like kind of what you’re excited about to 2022, um, and to anyone that’s listening like we’re going to have all of his contact information in the show notes, we’ll have.

45:46.24

Darren Fox

And

45:55.68

Andrew Morgans

You know a website how to reach you, Darren, so anyone listening in can tune in and find you, but before we sign off, what’s one thing you’d leave with any founders um or potential founders in the future that are out there. Um, that is just thinking about doing something on their own. And maybe don’t have the resources to do it and are just like you know ready to take that leap like what’s some advice or um, you know, kind of some mindset you’d give around that.

46:19.52

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah, um, I mean in my case because I was able to do a lot of the work, and that’s you know what? I said earlier that it helped me get to where I am if I did pro bono work just to kind of build up experience. Built-up things that I could show and present, and that really helped me. Um, get out of the gate faster because had I not done that, I probably would have started and not survived and then just, you know, dove off. So I think that’s really important, and then just making sure you guys are ready for it because it’s not going to be easy. Yeah, every time you see someone that has a business, and you get kind of envious, and everything like it is, it’s a lot of work to just be ready for it. Um, and then hopefully, you have a good support system, and if you don’t. There are so many online groups and other things that you can join to really surround yourself with other peers that are like-minded, and I think that’s going to be 1 of the most important things that can help them out, and I wish I would have had more of that when I first started, so that’s the part that i. You know, I didn’t really start to do it until these last five or so years, and that’s what really helped me grow and do my own professional development. Um, so yeah, I think that’s really critical.

47:43.98

Andrew Morgans

No, I agree, and the last thing I’d add to that is just practice just like you were talking about the problem and work. Um, you know I was pretty much doing the same thing on Upwork. I was getting paid but for like pennies really for what I was doing, but I was learning, and I was building a portfolio, and even though it wasn’t like I’m getting paid.

47:51.44

Darren Fox

And. Yeah.

48:03.78

Andrew Morgans

$5000 on this project. Let’s make it awesome. It was like I was getting paid fifty bucks on this project. Let’s make it awesome. So I can go get the next one. You know, it was like, you know, taking losses on projects just to make them look amazing. So that I could use that for the next one, um, I think it’s all about your perspective.

48:09.14

Darren Fox

Right.

48:20.50

Andrew Morgans

On that. Do you deserve to know that a website’s thousand dollars? Do you deserve that thousand, or do you deserve the opportunity to create something great? You know, to make a little money on the side to do it’s like gratitude, you know, or it says perspective of gratitude for the project. The pro bono project or like that, you’re getting to help a nonprofit versus.

48:32.34

Darren Fox

Right.

48:39.76

Andrew Morgans

Should be paid for this. You know, and I think that, um, when I really think of founders that have really done it from the bottom bootstrapped up like that was really what most of them have in common is they were doing work for free or Pro Bono in exchange for like practice and learning and getting hours like I just spoke on a.

48:52.30

Darren Fox

Right? Ah.

48:59.27

Andrew Morgans

Ah, cruise, and I was talking about just like there’s a bunch of Amazon brand owners there. So I’m not selling them, but it was like getting them to understand these different areas of their business that they avoid that they need to pay attention to, okay, so that was kind of the premise, and it was like, you know it’s going through this slide of um.

49:09.80

Darren Fox

Yeah.

49:17.20

Andrew Morgans

You know, I think mastery is like chess. You know, to be a chess master, like mastery of an intellectual skill is like I think Malcolm bible says is like 10000 hours that’s what makes an expert or a master. Um, and there are some exceptions to that around, like you know, certain things. But if you guys read about that. You’ll see. It’s like 10000 hours, and there are people that have said something doesn’t work. Like after like 20 hours of doing something or 10 hours of doing something, It’s like how can you say that that doesn’t work or you know you’re over it when you just you haven’t even spent a hundred hours on a thing you know so don’t cross these things off like you have to push through the hard stuff and to people that are really trying to start with something. It’s like, you know.

49:47.57

Darren Fox

Right.

49:56.57

Andrew Morgans

I would just say, um, echoing Darren’s statements is, do the work like you have to lean into the work even if it’s for free like lean into the work consider that your training wheels consider that your college education. Um, because your work will start to speak for itself. Even if you’re like the quiet type, you know there’s gonna be people that you do an amazing job for, and they’re gonna sing your praises, and even if you’re really timid, that is something that that alone can get you. You know, it can get you going.

50:24.96

Darren Fox

Yeah, yeah. And networking too, like the people that you’re helping, even if it is doing it for free, they may know other people. So, yeah, always just go into it. You know, with that full, you know.

50:26.66

Andrew Morgans

That leap story is true.

50:41.58

Darren Fox

Do a good job on the project, but also make sure you get to know that person, too. Because that’s another reason why I was able to grow. I developed really good relationships with a lot of the people that I helped in the early days, and that’s how we built it all—through referral.

50:54.64

Andrew Morgans

I love it. Well, you’re an honest person, and I think people like working with honest people, specifically in the marketing area. But to get internships at UMKC, I actually joined the mentorship program there in order to practice speaking. I wanted to be able to speak on cruises and things like that, you know, and I need some practice. But what started out as volunteering to help at the school, you know, the e-scholars program turned into some of my greatest employee opportunities. It turned into client leads; it turned into a platform for me to practice some of my speaking topics. You never know. It is just like volunteering some of your time to be around others.. I want to be around mentors; I didn’t have any. And there are 40 or 50 mentors that are part of that program, and I’m like, okay, I guess I’d like to be a mentor in e-commerce. But I get to pick all these guys and girls’ brains, you know.

51:38.26

Darren Fox

We can.

51:48.37

Andrew Morgans

And being around people, it was just the smallest thing. That seemed like, you know, not a big thing, but I was putting myself out there. And you know, it really opened the doors in so many ways. So great stuff, Darren. I could talk to you all day. It sounds like every time you share some of your stories, it’s like a part of me I like.

52:02.20

Darren Fox

Ah, yeah.

52:06.56

Andrew Morgans

Suppose it’s one of those episodes where I’m just relating constantly. It’s like, wow, like did this guy literally have the same journey as me. It’s been awesome chatting with you. I have no doubt we’re going to work together on a project soon. And to anyone listening, if you have something you’d like to talk to Darren about, we’re gonna have all of his contact information in the show notes. Darren Fox, it’s been an honor getting to know you and a little bit more about your story. Thanks again for being on the show.

52:33.21

Darren Fox

Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure.

52:38.12

Andrew Morgans

Shout out again to our sponsor, FullScale.io—helping you build software teams quickly and affordably. If you are looking for developers and having a hard time finding some for your project, FullScale.io is a great place to start your search. They’d be more than happy to help you or point you in the right direction. We’ll see you next time, guys.

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