Dwayne Ferguson, the founder of Digital360, never envisioned entering the tech and digital universe. However, with the arrival of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, his interest sparked in coding, particularly where he taught himself in an internet cafe in London’s Goodge Street. Since the beginning of his career in the 1980s, he witnessed the revolutionary transformation of the internet.
Born and raised in North London to parents of the Windrush generation, growing up in the 60s and 70s was set against the backdrop of a hostile environment illustrated by the rise of the BNP and the National Front.
From this turbulent backdrop, Dwayne has overcome multiple challenges to pioneer as a leading black tech founder in the UK, helping to diversify the industry and give more opportunities to those striving to secure work in today’s environment. Every step from leaving school until now has been an opportunity for him to learn, grow, build, and rebuild.
With a life spent working for the UK’s leading companies as a coder, web and mobile app designer, account manager and technical consultant, Dwayne has harnessed his knowledge and experience to create Digital360, working tirelessly to change the creative agency landscape for the better.
A decade ago, Dwayne was working for the internationally leading digital agency Sapient Nitrate as an accounts’ manager. This was until he suffered a stroke which left him unable to walk, talk or write. It was a terrifying time that forced him to completely rebuild his life, body, and career during the height of austerity.
He leads with a vision to unlock the potential of any business, both small business and larger corporation, with a 360° approach to digital. Looking to the future, he is excited to launch a revolutionary service for businesses with the Digital360 mobile app. A one-stop-shop for solopreneurs and small businesses to get the digital requirements they need in just a few taps. This is delivered by a team of experts with Dwayne at the helm.
How did Digital360 come to be?
‘Whilst I was recovering from my stroke, I had to sign on to claim sickness benefits. I had to go to a medical assessment centre where I walked from one end of the room to the other and they declared me fit for work and would take away my sickness benefits. I had to search for jobs, but no one would take me on. It was a frustrating and disheartening time. I set a goal of applying to 100 jobs, which I reached without any success.’
Despite these tragic and difficult circumstances, Dwayne realised that this was the chance for him to take a leap of faith. ‘I thought the best thing for me to do at the time was to set up an agency. I just had to set one up! So Digital360 was officially founded in 2014. I took all the experience and knowledge I learnt over the years and put it into this new venture.
I started off by building websites for acquaintances. One day, I got the call to build a mobile app for an import-export company. I teamed up with a developer from Eastern Europe and we created a brilliantly successful app. So successful we had it licensed in Canada, across 7 countries in Europe and translated to 7 different languages. This was Digital360’s first big product and it really opened doors for us.’
But this was just the beginning. ‘After building that app, it made me realise the need for a digital agency that provides more solutions than designing websites, which is why I started to develop a creative digital agency that provides a number of digital services. That’s why I named it Digital360 – we do the whole lot! We don’t stop at just building a website, we do everything. Branding, business strategy, social media marketing, performance marketing, you name it.’
Why did you decide to develop a virtual team?
‘I was giving presentations at a tech conference in Miami and learnt a lot whilst I was there. It was while I was out there that I came up with the idea of creating an entire creative agency that operated as a virtual team. Given the costly overheads and slow processes you sometimes get with traditional agencies, I thought that a virtual agency was a really compelling idea and one I wanted to test.
He continues, ‘but I knew I couldn’t do it all on my own. I needed people on the ground to help me with the design and build. I gradually built a team-up, starting with an apprentice, then getting a digital executive on board, Valentina. Last year I brought on a UI/UX team member, Veronica. Now we have a core team of 15, providing a whole suite of services from strategy through to multi-channel execution. It’s amazing how quickly we have grown. To me, this illustrates just how useful we are to our clients and how our way of working is just what the industry needs to offer.’
Having a virtual team working is a core tenet for Digital360. It gives our team the ability to work flexibly, productively, and efficiently. We can connect to our clients across the world at a time that suits them.
Dwayne says, ‘virtual and at-home team working is a central ethos to us at Digital360, and it’s one we ushered in even before the pandemic. When I worked in the city it was very stressful, with a lot of time wasted on the commute. I had always envisioned Digital360 as a remote working team, but we come together when we need to.
When Covid struck, every company had to do exactly that, but we could already service our clients remotely. In some ways, this has given us an advantage as we didn’t have to pivot like other agencies. Although, as society continues to open up, I am looking forward to more face-to-face meetings with both the team and our clients.
I am by no means a micro-manager. All my team members are experts in their fields, and I trust them to manage their own time and get the work done. I think this mindset is especially important when you work virtually. It is a great way to build trust and motivation within a team.
How do you guide clients through their digital transformation?
‘We now work with a varied mix of clients. We work with logistics companies, a fashion designer, a clinical training company and a recruitment company. We’ve also worked for an education company and a Fintech company. We have the best interests for all these companies, so it’s crucial we find out what is unique about them in their field.’
Although every team member of Digital360 is responsible for guiding you through your digital transformation, Dwayne will be your first port of call. In your free consultation, you’ll get the opportunity to meet him and discover what your business needs to thrive. Dwayne combines all the knowledge he’s accrued throughout his career, his knowledge of the digital industry, and the potential of our team to provide a powerful solution for our clients.
Take a look at one of our case studies, Mixed Freight. Dwayne recognised that their original website was too focused on the sale of services and products, like a brochure. There was no engagement with the people behind the scenes and the team that makes their business possible. In Dwayne’s vision, he wanted to put the team at the centre of the website’s design. Using his connections with an award-winning professional photographer, he organised a photoshoot that captured Mixed Freight at their best. Since then, the staff profiles and Meet the Team sections of the website have garnered huge engagement with users.
‘As another example, with one of our fashion designer clients, MH Mena, she had great products and connections, impeccable credentials…. but she didn’t know much about digital. So, we created digital platforms from scratch that represented her ethos and vision. This included a luxury website, look-books for her designs and we’re currently building them an integrated CRM system.
I don’t do as much design work as I used to as we have Veronica, our UI/UX designer, and our developers in India. I look at the overall vision of a company. With the help of our new Head of Strategy, Sophie, I determine where we’re going to take our new and existing clients’ businesses next. I’ll have similar conversations with our clients about their ambitions, their pain-points, how we can elevate those pain-points and give them real value for money.’
What is the core essence of Digital360?
‘Digital360 is a value-based company, meaning that we want to create long-term value and a trusted relationship with all our clients. The value we create for our clients and their customers stems from our expertise, judgement and how we go above and beyond what other services out there can offer.’
‘Anyone can build a website, but few people can say what will make the website work for you. How do you convert browsers into paying customers? How will you drive traffic to your platforms? All of that isn’t really covered when you just buy a website off the shelf. Like most things, the wrap-around context is very important. A website in isolation is pointless unless you tie it into your overall business strategy and alongside other digital platforms and activities.’
Something that is central to Digital360 is the ongoing relationship we build with our clients. One of the joys of working with a client is watching their business blossom and thrive. Taking start-ups or novices into the world of digital and seeing those businesses grow with the help of Digital360, is one driving motivation for everything Dwayne and the team do at Digital360.
For Dwayne, diversity is a strength. ‘Business shouldn’t be constrained by borders. ‘My team is international: our developers are based in India, I have a design team in Madrid, software developers in Belarus, our SEO expert is based in Guadalupe, our UI/UX designer is in Sweden, as well as guys in our head office in London. I like the work to be international and varied. Overall, this leads to better innovation and better results for our clients.’
I truly believe that if you’re going to build a strong company, it needs to have a diverse base. I can’t understand why you’d want to work in a monoculture. I love that we’re all from different walks of life and I think it makes us stronger. There’s strength in diversity and I think companies need to understand that. Beyond that, I’m keen to foster an environment where everyone stays in contact with each other, not everything has to go through me, and we organically develop.
I’m particularly keen to see young people grow too. If you look at our apprentice Jack, he’s not yet twenty and he’s really grown in confidence over the last year. He can lead meetings and client calls independently. It really does create value in your business if you invest in your team and give them the platform to learn, create and flourish.’
What is your future vision for the Digital360 mobile app?
‘The app is one evolution of Digital360. If you think of a website like Fiverr, you can get a digital service like a logo or website designed cheaply. The Digital360 mobile app is a premium version of that but with the added benefit of a dedicated team. You can get all the digital services you want and manage your team through the app.’
The app is aiming to revolutionise digital services for business owners. It’s easy to use; you download the app; create an account; select the services you need and, from there you can book a free video consultation at a time and day that suits you. Once we’ve decided what’s best for your businesses, all the contact you need with our team, your invoices and documents are in one place. Say you need your website updating, a Facebook ads campaign, or a new blog; simply log into the app and speak directly to our team. We can take it from there whilst you focus on the day job.’
Dwayne continues, ’it makes sense that the people who build your brand create your website. We understand your business at a granular level. As our clients grow, we grow with them, and we provide them with the services they need to succeed.’ With the app, everything is streamlined and quick. No more getting lost in email correspondence!
‘The first iteration of the app will be aimed at solopreneurs and small businesses. We define solopreneurs as professionals working on their own, like an architect or fashion designer for example. They know their industry inside-out, but they don’t know digital. They need a partner they can trust to build their business over and the long-term and to whom they can outsource their digital requirements. They can get all they need from us via the app.’ We have a whole blog dedicated to solopreneurs if you want to learn more.
‘The second iteration will be for larger companies with a bundle of services, like our client Mixed Freight. This bundle encompasses website design, hosting and maintenance, but also social media management, CRM management and much more. We’re looking to launch the app in July 2021. Sign up to our newsletter for updates on our app launch’
Finally, what do you enjoy the most about running Digital360?
‘I enjoy the feeling that I am contributing something of worth to society. In building better digital interfaces to improve the businesses of our clients, enabling them to grow and take on more people. To employ more great people and provide opportunities to them in this fantastic sector. I love the day-to-day interaction and the very real challenges of running and growing a business. Every day can be wildly different from the last.’
More than most and through major challenges, Dwayne has dedicated his life and career to digital. Digital360 is a testament to his achievements. Looking to the future, Dwayne and the rest of the team continue to push our clients’ potential further and meet new, ambitious businesses along the way.
Do you want to join us on this exciting ride and catapult your business to the next level? Talk to Dwayne today.
More thinking from Digital360:
Virtual team working, especially in the wake of Covid-19, is an essential tool for businesses and clients alike.