Starting a digital agency

Setting up an agency was something that we'd both talked about years ago whilst working at E3. So after some further discussions and quite a few beers in London, we decided to set up an agency.

Setting up an agency was something that we'd both talked about years ago whilst working at E3. So after some further discussions and quite a few beers in London, we decided to set up an agency. Whilst setting up the agency we've gone through a number of different steps and I thought it might be useful to note down some key bits - this is not a comprehensive list, just the bits I thought to be most interesting!

Finding a name

Arguably one of the most important jobs when setting up a new company is finding the right name. A company or trading name can be changed later on but it's a pain so we wanted to get it right first time round. We had 4 key criteria for choosing the name:

  1. Was the name free at Companies House? This can be checked using their webcheck service
  2. Was the domain name free? This can be checked using various websites, we used to look up domain name availability
  3. Was the name short and easy to remember - being selfish we're going to need to write the name and URL on some many forms and more importantly our users have got to type the name to find us so why not make things easy and keep it short. Also, it's generally easier to remember shorter names so we wanted to stick to as few letters as possible
  4. Could you hear yourself answering the phone with the company name - "Hi it's Pete from xxx" We had some interesting names on the list but they just didn't roll off the tongue or sounded a little daft when you said them out loud

After drawing up a list of over 50 names, we finally chose one that my brother James had dreamt up one Sunday morning... "GIBE". The question we get asked most is why Gibe? Well it's pretty straight forward - it answered all the criteria above and we liked it. There's no big post-rationalisation trying to tie the name to the sailing connotation of changing direction - this spelling is Jibe or Gybe. Nor are we saying that we like to taunt and dish out sarcastic remarks which is normal definition of Gibe - although we can both be a little cheeky at times ;-)

Agreeing a location

This was a fairly straight forward decision for us. The general cost of living and price for office space in London was considerably more than that of Bristol. Also we both know lots of freelancers in the South West from our E3 days. Finally, both our ladies have jobs in the area so decision made - Bristol it is. I do however think that there are many great reasons to base the agency in London, but whilst we're starting up Bristol is the best place for us.

The admin

There was less red tape than I expected when setting up a new business. Given that Steve had already started up his own freelance business - Steve Temple Limited - we had a number of key things in place. We had an accountant, Dafferns that did the registration at Companies House and we filled in and signed some forms and on 18th February 2009 we formed Gibe Digital Ltd. We agreed a 50/50 share allocation and are equal partners in the business. Dafferns also helped us sort out our Memorandum of Association and our Articles of Association - the legal documents required to set up a limited company. We set up a business bank account with HSBC, a bank that both of us had used before, and paid in our agreed setup funds and we were ready to trade.

The proposition

Steve is a great programmer with loads of experience developing complex ecommerce, content management and bespoke websites. I'm a seasoned project manager and client handler and have been responsible for the strategic development of both projects and accounts. So if we're to leverage our core skill sets that means we're a strategic partnership able to offer advice on all things digital from marketing plans to email subject lines. We're also able to create websites that have a simple user experience, deliver results and are technically challenging to develop. So trying to sum this up into a coherent sentence "we provide our clients with great advice and solutions that will genuinely make a difference to their business".

About the Author

Pete Williams, Pete is co-founder and MD of Gibe

Pete's focus is on strategy, creating great relationships and products for all his clients. He believes attention to detail makes the difference in all things digital.