Three years ago, long-time industry colleagues Chris Coghlan and Gautam Lohia came together to found Apply Digital. Their mission: design and build smart, digital products to help organizations embrace the technological transformations impacting their businesses and the growing expectations of their customers.
As Apply Digital celebrates its third year in business, Gautam reflects on the journey thus far, and what’s ahead.
Why did you create Apply Digital? Does the world need another digital shop?
Chris and I spent quite a few years working together in the digital agency world. It was a great experience – working for global brands and with exceptionally talented people. But technology continues to evolve at such a rapid pace, and we realized that it was impossible for any one small agency to master every digital skill set out in the market. The “full service” agency model was producing sub-par counsel and watered-down expertise, which had a direct impact on client success.
We felt there was a real opportunity to be hyper-focused on doing one thing really well for clients – design, build and manage smart digital products that get to market faster, evolve to consistently engage end users, and ultimately drive revenue.
How has the market responded to Apply Digital’s specialized approach?
Our offering is really resonating. Every business out there needs to extend their products and services into digital – customer expectations simply demand it. The problem is that many businesses lack the expertise internally to bring their ideas to life in a way that meets the rising UX expectations of humans. This is a particularly big problem for mid-sized firms looking to compete and rapidly grow. So there’s a massive need in the market for the talent, but a big shortage of people to help make it happen.
This need is really across all organizations though. Even bigger, more established enterprises can only add so many team members and need to look for specialist to help accelerate digital products to market. Then of course there are the vast number of startups that need to quickly develop a minimum viable product, but lack the capital or know-how to bring it all together. So Apply’s model is built to help these organizations tackle this problem.
It’s been only three years, but a lot has happened already!
Yes, not only have we built a solid roster of great clients, including AGI, ConstructConnect, Tractor Everyday Healthy Foods, Nike, Freedom Mobile, and Disney, but we have expanded our footprint with the opening of our Toronto office, established Apply Ventures to support the growing startup ecosystem, launched a digital marketing agency GoodScout, and now have over 70 people. We’ve been busy!
And you’re continuing to build your team. What’s it like to work at Apply Digital?
From the outset, we wanted to create an inclusive, learning culture built on respect for each individual, and dedicated to their personal and professional development. We want this to be a place where people want to come to every day, and stick around to help build this company! It’s very important to us.
Our driving philosophy is something we call SHAPE: Smart, Humble, Active, Positive, Excellent. We rolled this value system out in 2018 as we saw the business growing rapidly and into new offices. We wanted our employees, partners, and customers to understand what we were about in all moments and interactions. Our goal is to build a leader-leader culture…where everyone learns, delivers great quality, and feels they can own what they do.
What’s the future look like for Apply Digital? Where do you want to be in five years?
We are expanding our operations into the US this year, and eventually into Europe – as we are seeing our service offering resonates well there. But we don’t have any specific “size” goals. At the end of the day, we want to be known for the quality of our work, our exceptional people and for creating smart digital products for companies all over the world. It’s only been three years, but I feel confident that we’re well on our way to making that happen.