Interview with Gautam Lohia, Partner at Apply Digital
With a week left until “Working with Global Brands: an Agency Perspective”, I couldn’t miss a chance to interview amazing panel of speakers to get a deeper insight into Apply Digital, Vancouver-based agency. This interview is with Gautam Lohia, Partner at Apply Digital and advisor to Metalab. Gautam has extensive international experience in digital platforms and marketing, services delivery, business strategy, and program leadership. He is a former Managing Partner at Blast Radius, who helped strategic digital agency, Blast Radius, become part of WPP. Gautam is a leader, enabler of technology, and driver of innovation. An agency pitch guru that knows how to win business and is an entrepreneur at heart.
Below is an interview where Gautam shares his insights into agency environment in Vancouver, future of technology and challenges he faces working with global brands.
What made you leave Blast Radius and start Apply Digital?
In Vancouver, no one has reached the levels of Blast Radius from an agency impact on global brands or on people in Vancouver. We grew blast radius to 500 people in 11 offices globally. Blast was in the early days of the internet…But now more than ever, the world is becoming digital. Industries are being disrupted. Opportunities to innovate have never been so abundant. The demand for great digital products is high, but there remains a shortage of specialized product companies and talent that can help plan, design, build these products in an agile, successful way. We think there is a void in the Vancouver market for digital knowledge workers to apply their craft on global clients. And we want to create that next great company.
What’s your favourite part about being in an agency? What’s the most challenging?
Favourite part: the people. The fun of working through new challenges every day with a smart, motivated team.
Most challenging: finding great talent.
Your company works with a lot of global brands – what’s the most exciting project your company worked with so far?
We’re working with a large us company on a 360 camera experience which is pretty exciting!
Also, many years ago we helped Starbucks get into social media and launch their first app. What was exciting was an agency in Vancouver helping one of the most well-known brands in the world understand how digital could help them.
When it comes to hiring what are you looking for in a potential team member?
Ideas, energy, brain power, communication, passion
What’s the culture like at Apply Digital?
Chilled but focussed. Open and honest. Nimble. Collaborative. Always learning.
How do you ensure that company culture filters through to all your employees?
95% of all conversations happen openly. The leaders are engaged in the business each day and are open but relaxed. We sit together without offices. We enjoy the inputs of everyone on any topic. We celebrate together, we learn together. Culture is created with great communication, and ours will develop with that.
What makes apply digital different from the rest of the agencies?
We are not really an agency. We plan, design, and build digital products. We don’t do marketing campaigns or SEO, or advertising, or CMS rollouts, or media etc, etc. We believe focus and specialization are key to becoming the best.
In your opinion, what will tech industry in Vancouver look like in 5 years? How about 10 years?
It will grow even more rapidly than the last 5 years based upon the continued interest of global companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Amazon. The renewed focus of the BC government in tech with the BCtech strategy which includes a $100m fund and a focus on coding taught in elementary schools. The excellent mix of tech and design skill sets that exist in Vancouver has been great at supporting tech of all kinds recently. In the next 10 years, we hope to have become a “Vancouver” variant of Silicon Valley with our own unique way of cultivating and supporting tech startups.
Any other comments/thoughts you would like to share?
If you are looking to get into the industry as an individual or as a business, look broadly. Think broadly. Innovation and excellence is everywhere.
Also published on Medium.
Karina is an experienced UX and graphic designer with a primary focus on interaction design and product development. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Psychology, she originally started as a digital illustrator and gradually moved to web development and branding. Her biggest passion is working with startups and custom-built products, as it gives her a chance to work with different stages of the product, from visual identity, design, and branding to front-end development, market research and testing. She currently leads UX Professional and Foundation Programs.