Speaker 1: I’d like to welcome to the studio today Armando Martinez of SpiderBoost. Welcome Armando.
Armando: Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: On behalf of EO South Florida I’d like to really congratulate you on your ranking in the 2014 INC “Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in the United States.”
Armando: Thank you.
Speaker 1: So tell us a little bit about SpiderBoost.
Armando: SpiderBoost is an advertising agency that focuses on digital advertising. We are what’s called the programmatic advertising company. That means that digital advertising has matured enough to where there’s a lot of predictability when it comes to acquiring your target audience and getting in front of your target market. We use code and software and Google. We work a lot with Google directly. We’re one of the largest Google partners in South Florida. We work with them directly to acquire clients for our clients themselves.
Speaker 1: Excellent. What motivated you to launch SpiderBoost?
Armando: I have a lot of experience working since I was 16 years old. I worked retail for 9 years then I worked for a couple of Inc companies if you will, or Fortune 500 companies. I worked at AT&T advertising. I worked at Office Depot corporate headquarters. The opportunity for growth and for fast growth if you will was not there in those companies when I worked there. I didn’t like that. I felt like I knew enough about my trade and who I was and what my core strengths that I needed to go out on my own and try to see what I could do and here we are.
Speaker 1: There seems to me that there would probably be a lot of competition within your industry. What’s unique about SpiderBoost?
Armando: Wow. There is definitely a lot of competition in this market. We deal with having to … All our clients get hit by companies in India and the UK and South America trying to take our clients away. That’s 1 thing. Then the United States of course advertising has been around forever. What’s unique about is the fact that we are … Everything we do is based on factual numbers. We don’t deal with having the prettiest picture, coming up with the most creative idea and the best creative pick for a percent of your company. We identify who we’re targeting and we use real data statistics. A lot of statistics. We target those people with software and get in front of them. It’s a much lower risk. Your wasted ad spend is also way lower and it works more importantly.
We have a lot of clients in pretty much every industry from accounting services all the way to hotels or resorts. The formulas the same. It’s really applying a lot of statistic and economic theory to a matured digital marketing world out there where we’re able to really hone in and get the ideal customer for our clients.
Speaker 1: Interesting. When you launched did you have a detailed business model?
Armando: No, not at all. Not at all. When I launched I knew that the opportunity was there for really working on the web world at the time. It was just the dot come world and maybe it’ll get adopted and maybe it won’t, but it was growing really rapidly and that was really what attracted me to this market as an economics major I know that the opportunity for growth it’s much easier to get in there when it’s at the early stage and I got in at the early stage.
Speaker 1: How did you secure your first client?
Armando: Was very good at doing website presentations. I’ve been Google certified since 2006 so I know how to drive clicks to websites. I did that. I did my own advertising, had a small budget. They saw our website. They were impressed enough to call me and present face to face. I went there, presented face to face and a day later they called me and said, “Hey. We need a contract for your fees.” My fee at the time was $12,000 and I had no contract or anything like that. I wasn’t formally structured but I knew what I was presenting to them was strong and it was the right solution for them. They did too and it turned out to be a … To this day they’re still my client.
Speaker 1: That’s excellent. Early on that very first account or subsequent account shortly their after, how were you able as a startup to establish credibility?
Armando: It really fell on me. I wasn’t really selling a company. I wasn’t really selling a service at the time. I was selling my skill set, my education, my understanding of their product self. I think that’s what it was. It’s the fact that I was already preparing myself.
Speaker 1: Interesting. When you launched your company how were you able to finance the startup?
Armando: Through my experience, after I graduated from school at 24 I was making a 6 figure salary as a sales rep in Miami and I was able to save up a lot of money. That also allowed me … I worked in advertising for those few years where I was making that salary. It allowed me to be in front of a lot of other entrepreneurs and business owners and I impressed a few of them along that way that I came up to them and said, “Hey I need a first round investment. I need to get an office. I need to get business cards.” Presented them what I thought was necessary to get off the ground and I got it.
Speaker 1: The follow up questions is, again, you’re one of the fastest growing companies in the United States, how have you been able to finance the growth of your company?
Armando: That’s actually a very good question. We’ve done it on our own, but it all comes down to me. I take the hit if you will. Instead of making the 6 figure salary like I was, I went down. A few years I was making under 50. Under $50,000. Everything we were bringing in I was re-investing back in the company. Re-investing in talent, re-investing in growth. Everything that I brought in I re-invested right back into the company.
Speaker 1: Great. You mentioned talent. It’s a tough environment to attract-
Armando: Yes it is.
Speaker 1: … Top tier talent. How do you do that?
Armando: Well, the first thing that I did was to have a key player in the office that can manage the people. I’m very fortunate to have a younger sister that’s also educated like myself and very aware of her environment and hard worker. She was going to law school in New York and at the time I told her, “Hey, I have this company that’s taking off. Take a break, come down and come work with me.” She came down and worked with me. She managed the actual talent that we had sitting there and working and made sure that it was in our best interest everything that we’re doing, how they spent their time. That key player allowed me to really setup the foundation to continuing to go grab other talent that I could not micromanage.
The second part to that was when I started in 2010 the real estate market crashed completely and there were a lot of talented people that did a lot of creative work for major real estate developments that were now out of a job. I immediately went out and recruited who I thought was the best. He started working with me. In advertising there’s a lot of different cornerstones that make up a good advertising agency. You have the creative, you have the account managers, or account director which is my sister, and you have the media buyers is my expertise and my skill set. I grabbed what I thought was … I surrounded myself with people that are smarter than me in those industries. I surrounded myself with somebody who had my back from go, which was my sister. She had a tough time growing into that managerial position, but in no time we were able to really set the foundation for an up and coming company.
Speaker 1: Having a family member in your business, did that create a unique set of challenges with a family dynamic?
Armando: Not at all. Not at all. It’s helped us grow a lot together. We’ve been close since she was born and like I said she’s very smart. It makes it a lot easier when you’re working with smart people.
Speaker 1: Sure.
Armando: She’s down to earth. It never had a challenge. If I needed, if I was short on payroll, the first person I would go to would be my sister and she would understand completely. That also allowed me to say, “Hey okay. It’s okay. She’s helping me out. I have somebody there who can really take a hit in the short term so that in the long term we all benefit.”
Speaker 1: Great. What is the most creative or unusual sales tactic that you’ve ever used?
Armando: The most creative or what again?
Speaker 1: The most unusual or creative sales tactic that you’ve ever used to acquire a new client.
Armando: The most creative or unusual. Wow. I think as a creative agency everything we do is pretty creative, but I would tell you that the most creative way that I’ve done it is really … It’s not really creative or out of this world. It’s just proving your worth and we started with lower tier clients and we started making them a lot of money and those types of testimonials and that word of mouth gets around really fast. I don’t think there is a creative way or any magic formula for getting a single sale. There is no such in advertising. We’re very black and white. We give you what you’re looking for. We’re very straight forward and we deliver. I think if you said most unusual I would tell you that in this market the most unusual thing we do is that we actually come through for our clients.
Speaker 1: Have you ever turned down a client?
Armando: Yes. All the time.
Speaker 1: Why?
Armando: A lot of times it’s not a good fit. There are a lot of companies, a lot of business owners who have never worked with an ad agency or with marketing people and sometimes their expectations are not something that I think are achievable at the level that their in. Or it could be that they’re extreme micro-managers. Or it could be that they think that they are the creative person, the media buyer and the content writer, and a lot of times that does not work. That was the hardest part of establishing the company is really getting the right client and the right fit for us. Not everybody’s going to be a good fit.
Speaker 1: As a fellow entrepreneur of more than 25 years, there’s been many a nights where I’ve woken up at 3:00 in the morning in a cold sweat thinking about a problem that I have to solve. What keeps you up at night time?
Armando: Controlling growth. It’s really what keeps me up at note. Like I said, I turn down a lot of business and controlling my reputation, controlling the timelines and deadlines that I have clients. Those are easy. The hard part for me it’s really where do I want to go next? I’ve had what’s considered considerable good fortune and considerable success. Obviously I’m a part of this group of the fastest growing companies, but what keeps me up at night really is what happens next. I am a very pro-active person and I really like to think about all my different options. I play a lot of poker, I play a lot of all kinds of different mental games if you will that allow me to think about different scenarios. What happens with I go with that, or if I go with that, or if I go with that? So much to the point to where I’m still single. I haven’t been able to keep a relationship because I’m so focused on the next steps.
Speaker 1: Of course. Well let’s talk about next steps.
Speaker 1: I’m going to give you some magical powers for a couple minutes.
Speaker 1: I’m going to put in front of you this amazing crystal ball.
Speaker 1: Go ahead and look inside the crystal ball and tell me how the business climate will change in the next 5 years and how that will affect your business.
Armando: In the next 5 years the business climate as a whole is going to change in a … It’s going to be a lot more like accounting than it is creative. It’s going to be a lot of numbers and what it comes down to, everything that we do now as a society in the United States is tracked whether you like it or not, whether you accept it or not. When you go on Facebook, I know exactly what music you like, who you’re friends with, where you like to go and eat, what your preferences are. When you go on Google and do searches on the Internet I know if you looked at a million dollar house or a $200,000 apartment. I can identify all that and it’s really becoming more of a more intelligent, more controlled market. It’s little bit scary because we know so much about each other’s world and personalities and likes an dislikes, but it’s not a bad thing.
The people that are in charge of keeping track of this data and the people that actually have control of this data are very responsible and very successful. I’m talking about Google and Facebook, or course. These companies are not going to release that information for anything other than marketing purposes. I think in 5 years from now we’ll be able to say, “All right. This is what I sell, this is who I sell it to.” It’s going to be very aligned. It’s going to be a lot more organized and more controlled.
Speaker 1: Interesting. You’re a very impressive entrepreneur.
Armando: Thank you.
Speaker 1: I would like to make a 1 million dollar investment into your business. How would you deploy those 1 million dollars?
Armando: The first thing I would do is definitely open up offices throughout the United States what I consider key markets for growth. This is in the advertising world it has to be a constant contact with the client and that is not something I can do being in Miami and in New York have a client and expect them to achieve the best they can be without being in front of them. It’s really important to have that office near their office. I would open up key markets and again, find the talent. Now that I have a team that has been with me for over 3 years. I think a lot of military terms. I have my generals ready to have their own little groups of people that they’re going to train and bring them up to par. I already took care of that part from a strategy of talent point of view. The challenge now is having those locations so I can go in and say, “Look, this is what we did for the accounting firm.
This is what we did for the theme park. This is why it worked and this is how it worked, and this is how I’m going to hold your hand throughout the whole process.” I would definitely open up a key markets and go get them.
Speaker 1: Great. What 1 word describes Armando as an entrepreneur?
Armando: One word that describes me as an entrepreneur. I would say that very controlled actions. I really definitely take the time to think about everything. I’ve had, as you’re aware as an entrepreneur, I’ve had so many different scenarios from clients not paying me to where I could say, “Oh, I could go sue them and try to get that money.” A lot of decisions as a CEO really affect the rest of your life. Not just as a business owner, but as a human. Your opportunities for work afterwards, your opportunities for being a good person in society and who you connect with. In advertising, especially in this market, word of mouth is huge. Miami’s a big … South Florida’s a big market, but everybody’s interconnected someway, somehow. For me it’s always been about controlled actions.
Speaker 1: You mentioned not getting paid or other issues like that. It’s a part of business. Who do you go to when you want to discuss solving problems, or brainstorming ideas, or guidance, or mentorship? Who’s your sounding board?
Armando: A lot of my clients it’s 1 of them. I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with … I’ve had hundreds of different entrepreneurs work with me over the past 4, 5 years so I’ve always seen problems that are similar to the problems that I face. I’ve gotten to see how they solved it, whether it was wrong. What they did right and what they did wrong.
Speaker 1: Sure.
Armando: I got to learn a lot from that, and I’ve become very close with a lot of other business leaders, thought leaders. When I go and present to them and I tell them how to fix their problem, I’m doing it from experience that I did with other folks, or from experience that I did with my own, or from case studies that I read, or any information I got my hands on. I have a very unique educational system in that I only deal with business leaders. With people who have a great responsibility. When you own a business that has any employee, let alone 50 employees to 1,000 employees you control whether they eat Ramen noodles, or they eat steak. All this knowledge in the world. I want my people to eat steak so I make sure that before I make any decisions or do anything that could affect their ability to have a good life, I figure out the different outcomes and I’ve been able to really apply that across all the different clients that I found.
Speaker 1: Interesting. Briefly what is the boldest move that you’ve ever made in your professional life?
Armando: Starting a company on my own. By far. I was making a 6 figure salary. I was 24. I had the BMW M6 convertible. I’m still living in South Beach in a condo overlooking the ocean. I had it made. I was playing golf, in good shape. Dating beautiful … Miami. Dating beautiful women. I left that lifestyle. I said, “You know what? This is almost too easy and I’m not happy. I’m not satisfied.” Why am I not satisfied? My brain power it’s telling me, “Go use your brain. Go do something.” Life is not about going and helping somebody close a couple deals and going and playing golf at 24. No, I’m not going to do this. I said, “You know what? I can do it better.
I can do it better and I’m going to do it better,” and I went out and started my company and I’ve helped a number of companies out of bankruptcy. I’ve helped a lot of companies grow into INC Fortune, whatever different levels they got into. I’ve helped a lot of people get job promotions because they hired me and I made them look smart and made them look good because did our job.
Speaker 1: That’s wonderful.
Armando: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Final question.
Speaker 1: Tomorrow morning you wake up and let’s pretend your company is no longer there. What is the next company that you’re going to start?
Armando: The next company that I would start? I wouldn’t tell you. It’s that good.
Speaker 1: Okay. Fair enough. Fair enough. Armando I want to really thank you for coming out to our studio and sharing time. Very inspirational. On behalf of EO South Florida again, congratulations for earning your rank on the INC 2014 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States, and thank you so much for helping to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in South Florida. Thanks so much.
Armando: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Be well.