In this week’s “From the Ground Up” interview, we sit down with Andrew Ruditser from MAXBURST, an UpCity Certified Premium partner and one of the top digital marketing agencies in the United States. Below we discuss how MAXBURST grew out of Andrew’s past ventures, how they approach finding and hiring great talent to scale their team, and more!
A: I started the company back in 2007, but had a strong IT-technology background from previous endeavors. In my mid-twenties, I started a company that fixed broken websites, set up email servers, and took on various managed IT services jobs. I grew that to a decent size, but it just wasn’t the quality of life I was looking for: I was on-call 24-7, and it was impossible to scale. Ultimately, I just lost interest.
Eventually, I sold it off piece by piece to a few different IT companies in New York, Brooklyn, and Long Island, which gave me the seed money I needed to start MAXBURST. While I was building the IT services company, I was asked a lot for web development, but never thought of offering it as a service.
I was really into web development, and I’ve always been a visual person, but I don’t have the skills to actually create: I’m not very artistic. I met my business partner, Donny Escolastico, we started this company together, and we’ve been growing it ever since. It’s been a really great ride.
Q: That’s a pretty unique way to come into the agency world! So what’s been your biggest challenge in growing your business thus far?
A: When you’re trying to grow a digital agency, you have to hire very talented people. You need designers, developers, copywriters; to attract all these people, you need competitive salaries and benefits packages, you need a great culture, and you need to get your name out there. In the beginning, developing your brand to the point where those talented people want to work for you can be tough, and building it to the point where bigger companies can confidently choose your team for their next project is even harder.
Q: So you’d say hiring not only great people, but people that will be able to grow with your company has been your biggest challenge? What’s been your approach to finding that type of talent?
A: Absolutely. It really depends on what type of person we’re looking for, the type of skill set we need at that moment. If I’m looking for a designer, their portfolio is very important to me. I want to see what they know, what they can do, the types of projects they’ve gone after; once I feel comfortable with their skills, then I look at their character. Do I think they’ll fit into our company? Will they work well with the team members we already have onboard?
We invest a lot of time and money into our employees, especially in the beginning as we’re getting their development ramped up and easing them into heavier projects. We want to make sure we select the right people from day one so that we don’t make a bad investment.
Q: Do you find it difficult to consistently find “interesting” clients?
A: It’s difficult, it really is. We have to pick our clients carefully; we want good partnerships and interesting partners, but interesting means different things to different people. Some people look for a big name, a big company; other people look for complex challenges to solve.
When we go into the pitch process, we have to think about these things, while also keeping in mind our capacity and our team’s abilities. We ask ourselves, “Who on my team is going to work on this? How are we going to deliver? Will we have to bring in outside vendors? Will our team work well with this client?”
It’s not just about finding interesting clients but finding the right interesting clients. There are many times when we pass on projects because it’s just not the right fit for our team.