Jared Huke of Daito tells us how they augment users with emerging tech in a way that adds true business value.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Daito.
Jared Huke: I went to the University of Texas at Austin for Physics and Astronomy but quickly realized that while I love scientific methods, my mind was a little too creative for crunching numbers (read: the math of quantum mechanics was just a bit much for me). I spent some time in studio art before finally landing in the UT Design program focused on early UX methodologies in the 1990s of observation, inquiry, and iteration. It was a great foundation for what was to come. I spent the better part of a decade traveling and working around the world: Vietnam, Thailand, Sweden, and China. My work included everything from sustainable furniture design, IoT sensors, mobile luxury experiences, and more. When I returned to the states, I spent some time working with Apple, Salesforce, and many large energy companies on mobilizing their workforce. It was a fun time. I got to design the first enterprise apple watch application for security officers at nuclear power plants. There were a lot of fun challenges working in that space. Ultimately, it was that work that led to the creation of Daito. We at Daito truly and passionately believe in the possibility of augmenting users with emerging tech but not in a haphazard way – it in a way that adds true business value.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Jared Huke: The inspiration for Daito came from my studies in an Aikido dojo. The philosophy and structure guide much of how I try to live and work with my team. As for daily impact, I would say that the understanding of breathing, but literally and figuratively, really helps me stay grounded and able to roll with all the chaos that comes from running an international agency.
How does Daito market its product/services online?
Jared Huke: Honestly, we don’t do it enough. I am a bit of a failure in terms of shouting our presence online. I try to take a humble approach to work with my clients; so far, it has all been word of mouth. This year is changing as we get more visibility and inbound work from our site. We blog and stay active on LinkedIn, clutch, and medium, but I can’t say any of them have turned a corner for us. Currently, I am reading a great book called 1-Page Marketing Plan. I can’t recommend it enough. I bought a copy for all my leaders so that we are all thinking in one way. It has great clarity as I try to turn what I learned into action.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Jared Huke: The center of all we do is some software called Scoro. www.scoro.com. It is very smart agency management software. It allows us to manage multiple offices and multiple currencies with relative ease. I am a big fan of data and making small corrections in our projects early, so we end up in a strong place for our clients and ourselves.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Jared Huke: I know it sounds odd, but I really just try to hire awesome people. There is a certain amount of turnover in agencies, especially with young team members, as they are just trying to find their path in life. Many, if not most of our former employees, keep in touch with me and even occasionally do some freelance work for us. As for retention, we really try to focus on working with humans…not some resources or FTEs. If people need to go to the store and pick up their kids, they need to do it. As long as the work is done, we accommodate as much as we can. We also have Daito blend coffee beans and send everyone a box of chocolates and coffee each quarter to keep them smiling, wired and happy.
How are you funding your growth?
Jared Huke: It is all bootstrapped at this point, but we are planning some acquisitions this year that should be very interesting.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jared Huke: We don’t worry too much with competitors. Most of our clients are fortune 100. The choice between ourselves and companies like Accenture is pretty stark. Mostly we compete against internal politics within our clients and non-action. Only so much we can do with those.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Jared Huke: This is a funny story, but it shows the truth about how we do business as a company. There was a start-up that was funded that came to us to design their app. It was going to be a sports-related app, and they had some big names attached to it. As we started our inquiry into the functionality, we noticed some contradictions that needed to be explored. So we shifted to a business and user research exercise to define these requirements more accurately. The good news was that we found out there was no business there. How their content people and their consumers wanted to interact was fundamentally at odds with each other. It wouldn’t work as they envisioned it. So, we told them that the data didn’t support the idea. The company was disbanded before it started up. This could be considered a failure, but for a few 10’s thousands, we saved them and their investors 100’s thousands if not millions of dollars. Is that the best for our business? Maybe not, but people know that they should come to us if they want to know the truth. We take design as a very honorable pursuit and won’t take advantage of our clients.
Your final thoughts?
Jared Huke: The world is full of ideas, some that have moved into technical proof, but there are a million pitfalls between a successful product and business. If you need help with any of those grey areas, call us; that is where we thrive!