I was invited to attend the BlueGlass party in London Victoria last Thursday night which also was the day when it was officially announced that Quaturo had been acquired by BlueGlass. I spoke to Kevin Gibbons on the night and asked him about the acquisition.
Congratulations Kevin on the acquisition, you must be really pleased.
Yes, I’ve got to know the guys at BlueGlass in the US very well over the last year and we’re all really excited to now be working together as BlueGlass UK. All the staff from Quaturo are now working as BlueGlass, and we’ve just moved into a larger office space. Although we may grow out of this one soon too!
How long did you have Quaturo for?
I started my first agency, SEOptimise, in 2006 – and then earlier this year decided to step away from the business to go in a new direction. The way this worked meant that we split the previous SEOptimise London office into a new company – to form Quaturo. So although Quaturo was only operating since June 2012, we had existing staff and clients which we brought with us – some of which I’d been working with for 5 years or more. So Quaturo wasn’t strictly a startup!
You were very young when you set up SEOptimise, why did you start your own business?
I was 24 when I started SEOptimise – having worked previously at a web design agency in Oxford, I’d decided that SEO was the part that interested me the most. Plus I quickly found I was good at it. At the same time, I also decided that I wanted to do some travelling. So I spent a year living in Australia – enjoying life around Sydney and the East Coast in the day. And working in the evenings doing SEO consultancy! Even though it was really a freelance job at that time, I’d decided that I wanted to at least look like an agency! So I setup SEOptimise.com (you can see an early version of the site here: http://web.archive.org/web/20061217022120/http://www.seoptimise.com/ – it’s pretty bad!), to service UK clients (rather than Australian – the exchange rate worked much better that way!). I also spent a large amount of time blogging to start building up a reputation for the company.
Your business was very successful, did you have a vision for its future and did you ever see it be part of a company such as BlueGlass?
I’ve always been impressed when I’ve been over to US events (the first one being SMX Advanced in Seattle which was in June 2010). Since then I’ve really made the effort to attend more events over there and get to know people who are real thought leaders in the search industry, including the likes of Loren Baker, Chris Winfield and Greg Boser from BlueGlass. Obviously by getting to know them it has led to us realising that our vision for Quaturo in the UK, in terms of goals, services/client delivery, team organisation etc – is actually very similar to BlueGlass in the US. And of course discussions have continued from there. So a transition from Quaturo into BlueGlass UK has actually proved to be a very smooth one, where we can compliment and mirror each other in many ways.
What tips would you give to those looking to start on their own but are worried about their lack of experience?
The one thing I did, which I probably underestimated at the time – was to put the effort into really learning and building a reputation (both as a brand and personally) by blogging and participating in forums etc back in 2005/2006 – and then later attending and speaking at events. That doesn’t pay the bills – especially at first. But it’s such a good learning experience that it puts you in a position where you can start to build really strong connections and build-up from there. So I would say a) you need to p ractice what you preach and prove that you are knowledgeable, and b) it’s just like any other industry – the people you know is vital, so make sure you get out there, otherwise there’s a lot of key contacts who I would never have met.
What attracted you to BlueGlass?
I did a full write-up on why we joined BlueGlass, but having seen some of the great things BlueGlass are doing over in the US, it was a really exciting opportunity to help bring BlueGlass into the UK market. At Quaturo we had big ambitions to really specialise as market leaders in content marketing within the UK. This was a goal I felt we were well on our way to achieving – but by teaming up to form BlueGlass in the UK it now gives us a big opportunity to take this even further and bridge that gap which is often very difficult between specialised/boutique agencies and full-service large digital agencies.
What are the plans for you and the team going forward?
We’ve got some extremely exciting plans for early 2013. Although in many ways it’s also a case of carrying on as usual.We already had a very strong vision for Quaturo – but we have now strengthened and maybe fast-tracked this as BlueGlass. So I believe we have a big opportunity and are very well-placed to really achieve these goals – but the hard work really starts now!
Will there be more BlueGlass events in the New Year?
We don’t have any dates to confirm as yet – but just based on the success of our launch party on Thursday night alone, it’s something we would certainly be very keen on running again. Plus having been to the BlueGlass events in the US – which I still class as the best conference I’ve ever been to – it’s something I think would work incredibly well if we were to bring this to the UK.