Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, I am Francesc and I am the owner of LA TEVA WEB, one of the most antique web agencies in Spain. We are a team of 20 professionals located in Barcelona that focuses on web design and online marketing.
We understand web design and online marketing as two sides of the same coin and we help companies clients of all shapes and sizes, from family businesses with tight budgets to large companies. In each case, providing services in line with the requirements and the budget of the client.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My academic background has always been focused on management and strategy, I did economics, a PGDip in European Companies Management, and an MBA in England. Once I finished these studies, I started to work in Barcelona as a product manager for a couple of large companies. These were very well-known and large companies and, although I was in my twenties and I had achieved a relevant position in both companies but, for me, it was a waste of time.
At that time you could not expect to have a minimum influence in companies where all marketing decisions are always made in central offices, always abroad. Unfortunately, Spanish companies produced few goods and they merely buy and sell products manufactured in other countries.
I wanted to see all processes and, above all, feel that my efforts were worth something real and touchable. That’s why I decided that if I wanted to put into action everything I had learned, I should build my own company.
I was 29 then and although I had little money, I was in a moment with no ties and plenty of time as my manager had just fired me -something I do really understand-. I am a very bad worker when reporting to a manager, it is by far my major weakness. I need to see all the procedures and be able to decide. Following this, an English consultancy hired me for carrying market studies in Spain. I combined it with my hobby: doing websites.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
You have to imagine how the online world was, Google was born four years earlier, we used Netscape as a browser, Yahoo and Altavista as search engines, Geocities as hosting provider, Frontpage for coding websites. Cool!
At that moment, websites were done by designers with little knowledge of coding or programmers with no taste for design. And above all, there were no companies in Barcelona offering websites that could sell and achieve objectives. I aimed to achieve a mix of nice code and design that sold. And everything had to be done by just one person: me. Once the company started to be profitable, I decided to move on to hiring the first person, that was for me the most difficult decision because once you hire someone, it is then that you become a real company.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I started the company while working for a third company. That can be very stressful but necessary if you have little money, you cannot hire anybody and you have to do everything and work very long hours. That’s why I recommend people who want to become entrepreneurs to do it when you are young with no ties and, above all, to have a partner that understands what it means, otherwise it will be so hard that it won’t pay off.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I thought, if I am targeting those people that do not have a website, I cannot expect that they look for my services through the Internet. Following this, my very first decision was really silly. I paid 1k for a one-year advertisement on yellow pages. No one ever phoned. That was how I understood that SEO was going to change my life.
SEO, SEO, and more SEO. That was the key to success. From the very first moment I had been very clear that if I wanted to succeed I needed visitors to my webpage and, secondly, made that a small percentage of these visitors become my clients. I bought several books about SEO and started to implement those techniques. It was easy to achieve good SERPs because very few people were really focusing on SEO. I keep being astonished when some clients keep saying in 2021 that SEO is unnecessary.
SEO is the best and cheapest way for attracting those clients you are interested in.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The company is profitable and we have enjoyed growth every year, even in the financial crisis and in this pandemic crisis. The key to success is the same now than 20 years ago: a good academic background that helps to devise a sound strategy, love what we do, and a good team with a relevant percentage of it committed to the project in the long term, people that love this work and are always up-to-date of any changes in the market and tonnes of humility. I rather would say that the last is the most important point.
Our major goal in the short term is to keep profitability while helping our clients to survive the pandemic crisis. We can do this by helping them to increase sales through their websites, e-commerce, and social media profiles thanks to our know-how. In the medium term, we are planning to expand our business through our second brand: semseoagency.com.
We are proud to say that we have clients on all continents and a relevant share of our turnover is done abroad.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous
When doing a SWOT analysis of my company, I see as major strengths the ability to attract loyal and good professionals that understand that we are a team with common goals that need to work in a nice environment where laughing is a must. That’s why for me attitude and aptitude are equally important when hiring someone. Our ability for keeping up to date with any change that happens in the online market in terms of SEM, SEO, SMO, or frameworks.
One of our worst mistakes has been not to learn to say no to some clients. Sometimes we have committed to some projects that were too big for us. It is not that these projects did not meet our core business, it was that we were not large enough for these commitments. We have delivered all these projects with excellence but many times at the cost of tonnes of stress and losses.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Mainly our websites: latevaweb.com and semseoagency.com. We normally attract our clients through SEO, link building, and some remarketing through Google Ads. However, we have to admit that word-to-mouth is our first source of clients.
Being a Google Partner Premier has also helped us very much in becoming very attractive for potential clients.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I love SEO and management books. I know it sounds a bit old-fashioned but for me is the best way to summarise all knowledge. I would not recommend any particular book, I would strongly recommend reading as much as you can. Another way of learning is through blogs, I love to read Moz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal and lately SEMRush.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Some of the recommendations I would give to any new entrepreneur would be: building a nice team, never do projects that are not related to your core business, and learn how to say no. Moreover, you must know that once you start a business, you cannot let yourself think about it and you have to love it and live with people that understand what means to be an entrepreneur. It has great advantages and great disadvantages and in the end, you have to be very strong mentally.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
As we keep growing, we need more people to help us going further and we are now looking to hire for two positions: an online marketing technician and a senior programmer specialized in Laravel. We normally promote these offers through Linkedin or headhunters.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.