What was the biggest hurdle you have faced as an entrepreneur

Sebastien Lepez

Founder and CEO

As part of the mini-podcast CallumConnects, our Founder & CEO, Sebastien Lepez, had the opportunity to explain the biggest challenge he faced when he launched JOLT Digital and how he solved it.

Click here to listen to the podcast or below to read the transcript. 

What was the biggest hurdle you have faced as an entrepreneur; how did you handle it and what did you learn from it?

Hi! My name is Sebastien Lepez. I am the founder and CEO of JOLT Digital.

JOLT’s mission is to keep changing the game. We bridge the gap between traditional agencies and upcoming new technologies to stay ahead of the game helping marketers significantly increase ROI & grow business.

The biggest hurdle I faced as an entrepreneur was when I realised the business I launched wasn’t taking off as much as I wanted it to.

JOLT was 1 year old, it was in June 2019. I realised the idea I had and the business I created around it, wasn’t making enough money to become a bigger business employing people, building a team! It was just ok to make some money for myself but not for a team and certainly nothing comparable to the corporate job I left to create my own company.

On one hand, I had the trust of my wife who I convinced that it was a good idea to leave my corporate and secured job. On the other hand, I had a business that made little money and wasn’t scalable. That was super tough!

What did I then decide to do in what seemed to me a dead end to my ambitions?

You have to understand a little bit my business and the industry I operate in, to understand what I did.

We are a digital media agency, who is changing the game with innovation at the core.

In the first year, I provided a consultancy service only to integrate relevant and proven AdTech and MarTech to marketer’s plans.

However, as I said, it wasn’t delivering to my expectations. Tech adoption by marketers in Asia is still low, therefore it will take a few years to reach the same level as in Europe or the US.

So, I had to do something, otherwise I could have waited for years for the tech adoption to increase. I then decided to pivot the company.

I still believed that technology was going to change marketing but, I decided to push it differently. I pivoted the business to become an agency rather than only a consultancy so I could help clients with their day to day digital marketing needs and have them to integrate at the same time some Tech. Subsequently I hired two people to execute this pivot. Because helping clients with their digital marketing campaigns means hands on deck for planning, buying, optimising, etc. Not only did I pivot the company but I also reinvested all the money I earned in the first year with hiring a team.

Then came 4 months of stress, of pitching as an agency for new business, paying salaries and not winning any new clients!

It finally paid off at the end of 2019 and we signed a lot of new clients.

Was I out of the bush, no! It was just the beginning of a new journey or a new company!

Now, you would ask the question, what did I learn from it?

A lot, actually!!

Resilience, was the major learning here. When you have a dream, a vision, you should persevere and never give up. You should continue and not leave any stones unturned.

I still use resilience now a lot, especially in the challenging covid-19 time we all live in. When discussing with other entrepreneurs, I realised that resilience is a common trait in entrepreneurs.

The second big learning is flexibility. I originally had in mind a specific business idea that I thought would fly but, it didn’t work that way. I had to observe and analyse what was wrong in order to adapt and pivot the company. I also built this quality in everything we do at JOLT Digital. It’s part of us now and part of our new tagline:

“Game-changing is in our DNA”

The last learning was, risk taking.

I decided to re-invest all my one-year earnings in people, so I could operate the pivot. That was risky and a tough decision, but I really think that fortune favours the braves!

It has now been a year since I pivoted the company and I can say I made the right decision. The company is growing, has a big potential to grow further and is changing the game! But to be very honest, it’s not only thanks to me but my team is playing a critical role into this. Thanks guys!

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