From Starbucks Hopping to Downtown Office - Ghostit Founders Talk Startup Journey

Team

 “Let’s crack open these windows, it’s too hot in here,” says Kimia. When I entered the boardroom, the temperature was high from the amount of natural sunlight filtering through the windows and the room a bright teal color coincidentally similar to their logo. The heat wave in the room was reflective of the temperatures across B.C. this summer. “It’s been terrible, it’s been so smoky,” says Rahul, referring to the current wildfire epidemic.

They both settled down across from me at a modern, birchwood, long table they used for meetings. The room wasn’t large, but it beat the small windowless office they had several months ago by a long shot. Located on the top floor of a building on Pandora St., Ghostit’s office is placed in the center of core downtown Victoria. I could hear both the birds in the sky and the city. Being a new marketing company that hones in the value of content and digital marketing, the office’s open space, bright colors and a beautiful view of the city made it the perfect place for creativity to flow. Ghostit’s business concept is not new when you break it down, but their complete package makes them unique. They deliver automated content marketing through their own scheduling software, with creative content made by real in-house writers who care for the brands and business professionals they write for.

 

The Motivation

 I quickly went over the format of the interview, how I hoped to capture the thoughts and feelings of the co-founder’s journey thus far. “Yes, this is exactly what we’ve wanted to do for ages,” Kimia says. It was a quarter past noon and we all brought our own bagged lunches, spreading them out in front of us in a casual manner. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised that they both cut through the formalities and got straight to why we were here. Before Ghostit became official, both partners had prior experiences running businesses. I wanted to know what drove them to become entrepreneurs in the first place.

Rahul laughs, “Well, I don’t like being controlled. I never responded well to teachers, and I even gave my parents a lot of pushback – I was not a good kid while growing up.” Rahul explains that he never got along with authority figures because he just never got behind reporting to someone else. In the grand scheme of things, it was the situations where he had some control that he thrived. Areas with collaboration, putting minds together and working together. “Secondly, the idea of building something from nothing, whether its brick and mortar or an online business, blows my mind. Knowing that you created elements in society that have value for different subsets of the population is so fundamental to me.” I looked over to Kimia who was nodding in agreement, “It’s exactly that,” he says “What Rahul said. It’s that something from nothing concept that first got me turned on to entrepreneurship. Building something that has a material impact and creates connections between myself, staff, and clients.”

The Business Choice

Content marketing isn’t a new concept, in fact, besides the fashioned term “content marketing” in the 1990’s, the act of telling stories and creating content to attract and retain customers has been happening for hundreds of years. The scope of published content has evolved greatly with the introduction of the digital world. This enabled content to become democratized, meaning anybody can create content and publish it cheaply on the internet - advertising was no longer monopolized. Though there are huge opportunities for content marketing to be used on the open internet, not everyone knows how to use it. Kimia explained, “It was the most glaring opportunity. That’s really why I got into it. When I went to a business’s Facebook page, I noticed that it was very minimal and inconsistent. Maybe people didn’t have time or didn’t know how important having an online presence is. So I thought to myself, hey, maybe people would pay pretty good money to have a cleaned up online presence. How people perceive you online is your content marketing.”

Rahul added, “I really got into it through Kimia, he came to me with the problem that he noticed. And I said wow dude, I’ve owned businesses in multiple industries and have that actual problem. I could’ve used this for the restaurant I owned and jewelry company etc.” Rahul laughs, “So immediately I was like, clearly there is a problem in this industry, and if we can solve this problem that’s a huge opportunity.”

Ghostit incorporated the summer of last year, but the idea for Ghostit was discussed by both founders seriously in April 2016. An interesting fact I came across was that Ghostit is completely bootstrapped, meaning they chose to turn away from finding investors and instead funded themselves. This, of course, has made it a financially arduous journey, but I quickly found out a common theme between the two founders - grit. Having no investors didn’t stop them from moving from a team of two to a team of ten, and now having a core downtown office with an incredible view.

How It Started

“We used to run into each other at the bank all the time. It really started when we found out we both had a love for watches. When we realized how like-minded we were, we went out for coffee,” says Kimia. Rahul laughs as he recalls, “One day Kimia called me out for how shitty my Facebook pages were. But seriously, in the beginning, we focused on the wrong projects, we didn’t niche down and we didn’t focus. We were trying to solve too many problems and kept getting distracted. Now we have a very specific offering, for a specific core market.” Their one coffee meeting quickly turned into an endless series of coffee meet-ups. For the first eight months, they worked out of Starbucks. Three locations around town became their office – so much so that the staff knew them by name. “During a meeting we were having at Starbucks, the Vice President of marketing for Starbucks Canada brought us a French press because we were basically Starbucks power users,” jokes Rahul.  “I remember our bill for Starbucks being $600 over three months, so when Starbucks released free refills for gold members, I lost my mind,” Kimia goes on to say.

They even gained a client from working at Starbucks. One day during a team meeting, their now long-term client asked the two what they were working on, saying “I couldn’t help but eavesdrop but I’m super interested in what you guys do.”

Moving Forward

When I asked them where they see themselves in a year both were pretty honest about their future and what they hope to see. Most likely they’ll still be in this current office, but their team and clientele will be increasing. Ghostit is growing at a rate of 40% month over month. In just their last month they brought on 3 more staff.  

“Before we hired mainly for emergencies, but now we have the luxury to not just fill a role but to look into the future and start building for culture.” What they’re now looking for is someone they can empower, but also be empowered by. Now that Ghostit has a base, the team is looking forward to doing more community building driven events. 

“We believe in building rapport, we try and go above and beyond which is important to us, it adds to the culture.”

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From Starbucks Hopping to Downtown Office - Ghostit Founders Talk Startup Journey

From Starbucks Hopping to Downtown Office - Ghostit Founders Talk Startup Journey

Author :

Mishar Briones

 “Let’s crack open these windows, it’s too hot in here,” says Kimia. When I entered the boardroom, the temperature was high from the amount of natural sunlight filtering through the windows and the room a bright teal color coincidentally similar to their logo. The heat wave in the room was reflective of the temperatures across B.C. this summer. “It’s been terrible, it’s been so smoky,” says Rahul, referring to the current wildfire epidemic.

They both settled down across from me at a modern, birchwood, long table they used for meetings. The room wasn’t large, but it beat the small windowless office they had several months ago by a long shot. Located on the top floor of a building on Pandora St., Ghostit’s office is placed in the center of core downtown Victoria. I could hear both the birds in the sky and the city. Being a new marketing company that hones in the value of content and digital marketing, the office’s open space, bright colors and a beautiful view of the city made it the perfect place for creativity to flow. Ghostit’s business concept is not new when you break it down, but their complete package makes them unique. They deliver automated content marketing through their own scheduling software, with creative content made by real in-house writers who care for the brands and business professionals they write for.

 

The Motivation

 I quickly went over the format of the interview, how I hoped to capture the thoughts and feelings of the co-founder’s journey thus far. “Yes, this is exactly what we’ve wanted to do for ages,” Kimia says. It was a quarter past noon and we all brought our own bagged lunches, spreading them out in front of us in a casual manner. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised that they both cut through the formalities and got straight to why we were here. Before Ghostit became official, both partners had prior experiences running businesses. I wanted to know what drove them to become entrepreneurs in the first place.

Rahul laughs, “Well, I don’t like being controlled. I never responded well to teachers, and I even gave my parents a lot of pushback – I was not a good kid while growing up.” Rahul explains that he never got along with authority figures because he just never got behind reporting to someone else. In the grand scheme of things, it was the situations where he had some control that he thrived. Areas with collaboration, putting minds together and working together. “Secondly, the idea of building something from nothing, whether its brick and mortar or an online business, blows my mind. Knowing that you created elements in society that have value for different subsets of the population is so fundamental to me.” I looked over to Kimia who was nodding in agreement, “It’s exactly that,” he says “What Rahul said. It’s that something from nothing concept that first got me turned on to entrepreneurship. Building something that has a material impact and creates connections between myself, staff, and clients.”

The Business Choice

Content marketing isn’t a new concept, in fact, besides the fashioned term “content marketing” in the 1990’s, the act of telling stories and creating content to attract and retain customers has been happening for hundreds of years. The scope of published content has evolved greatly with the introduction of the digital world. This enabled content to become democratized, meaning anybody can create content and publish it cheaply on the internet - advertising was no longer monopolized. Though there are huge opportunities for content marketing to be used on the open internet, not everyone knows how to use it. Kimia explained, “It was the most glaring opportunity. That’s really why I got into it. When I went to a business’s Facebook page, I noticed that it was very minimal and inconsistent. Maybe people didn’t have time or didn’t know how important having an online presence is. So I thought to myself, hey, maybe people would pay pretty good money to have a cleaned up online presence. How people perceive you online is your content marketing.”

Rahul added, “I really got into it through Kimia, he came to me with the problem that he noticed. And I said wow dude, I’ve owned businesses in multiple industries and have that actual problem. I could’ve used this for the restaurant I owned and jewelry company etc.” Rahul laughs, “So immediately I was like, clearly there is a problem in this industry, and if we can solve this problem that’s a huge opportunity.”

Ghostit incorporated the summer of last year, but the idea for Ghostit was discussed by both founders seriously in April 2016. An interesting fact I came across was that Ghostit is completely bootstrapped, meaning they chose to turn away from finding investors and instead funded themselves. This, of course, has made it a financially arduous journey, but I quickly found out a common theme between the two founders - grit. Having no investors didn’t stop them from moving from a team of two to a team of ten, and now having a core downtown office with an incredible view.

How It Started

“We used to run into each other at the bank all the time. It really started when we found out we both had a love for watches. When we realized how like-minded we were, we went out for coffee,” says Kimia. Rahul laughs as he recalls, “One day Kimia called me out for how shitty my Facebook pages were. But seriously, in the beginning, we focused on the wrong projects, we didn’t niche down and we didn’t focus. We were trying to solve too many problems and kept getting distracted. Now we have a very specific offering, for a specific core market.” Their one coffee meeting quickly turned into an endless series of coffee meet-ups. For the first eight months, they worked out of Starbucks. Three locations around town became their office – so much so that the staff knew them by name. “During a meeting we were having at Starbucks, the Vice President of marketing for Starbucks Canada brought us a French press because we were basically Starbucks power users,” jokes Rahul.  “I remember our bill for Starbucks being $600 over three months, so when Starbucks released free refills for gold members, I lost my mind,” Kimia goes on to say.

They even gained a client from working at Starbucks. One day during a team meeting, their now long-term client asked the two what they were working on, saying “I couldn’t help but eavesdrop but I’m super interested in what you guys do.”

Moving Forward

When I asked them where they see themselves in a year both were pretty honest about their future and what they hope to see. Most likely they’ll still be in this current office, but their team and clientele will be increasing. Ghostit is growing at a rate of 40% month over month. In just their last month they brought on 3 more staff.  

“Before we hired mainly for emergencies, but now we have the luxury to not just fill a role but to look into the future and start building for culture.” What they’re now looking for is someone they can empower, but also be empowered by. Now that Ghostit has a base, the team is looking forward to doing more community building driven events. 

“We believe in building rapport, we try and go above and beyond which is important to us, it adds to the culture.”

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