Interviewing Ricardo Casas from Fahrenheit Marketing – Top Austin app Developer
Fahrenheit Marketing is a design and development firm based in Austin. They specialise in mobile and web apps as well as marketing automation. They’ve ranked 8th among the top Austin app developers on ContractIQ. Here, we’re speaking to Ricardo who founded Fahrenheit back in 2008. He speaks his mind about Fahrenheit, Bots and a few tips for entrepreneurs.
Murali: Tell us a bit about the company & how you made it this far.
Ricardo: I’ve been in the industry for over 18 years and have worked both on the corporate and agency side. Nine years ago I resigned my position as marketing director for a larger agency here in Austin to start Fahrenheit. The impetus for that was my desire to provide world-class service apart from the attitude and inaccessible prices, generally expected from large outfits. When I was the director of this other agency, we turned away a lot of companies that have budget below 500 thousand dollars a year and I realised an opportunity there. There are a lot of companies that need world-class services but don’t have the budget to support the egos of large firm principals. We started servicing these accounts and initially the majority of our clients had a budget around one hundred thousand dollars a year. As time went on, we started harnessing the attention of bigger players; in part due to our open source contributions, and in part due to the exceptional level of quality our clients were enjoying. The word got out. In 2010 we started working with our first publicly traded account. Today we have Gatorade, R. J. Reynolds. ALK Abello, and clients from France, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Belgium and a couple of others. So our mix of clients has changed dramatically. We used to work with a lot of local businesses but now ninety-eight percent of our portfolio is comprised of enterprise level accounts, most of which are publicly-traded.
M: Great to hear that. Apart from web designing and app development, I could see that you do marketing automation and content development. So could you share your experience or views on that. Like what kind of impact did it have on your customers.
R: Actually because lot of our clients market to consumers directly it has made a huge difference. We use content strategy to understand what kind of content is being consumed by our prospect clients and then we develop content and disseminate the same through marketing automation. Through tracking we are able to get very granular about the user experience and how they consume our client’s content. So based on a set of algorithms we segment our databases and send individual prospects specific key content that usually goes from five to ten emails and then we measure their behaviour until conversion. So probably the biggest part of the marketing consulting and automation is the content development and the ability to market specifically to each individual prospect.
M: It’s very interesting to know that. So being a homegrown company, how does it feel like to be an app development agency in Austin? And how is the market like?
R: Austin, to the surprise of some, is one of the big hubs in the country for marketing. It’s a small city with a lot of the tech savvy people. The competition here is fierce and the fact that we are in business for nine years and growing, speaks a lot to the quality of the work that we do because every day there’s somebody starting a company in our space here in Austin. In a town like Austin, only the best will remain. We are very blessed and grateful for the position that we hold and to have competed for business with the GSD&M, T3 and other larger shops, and we got the bid for several projects where we competed with such large agencies. The market here is super-heated and very competitive and there’s lots of great talent in Austin.
M: Sounds riveting! Lately, bots are eating into the market and everyone is talking about it. What is your take on that?
R: From my experience I can tell you that we have some of that in place but they’re not really bots but a team where we offer a chat service to our clients 24-7 and it’s managed by a team of the representatives in the Philippines. It serves a purpose but will never replace the work of customer service here in the US. There are certain things that cannot be translated culturally. So while it’s helpful, I don’t think that it’s replacing anything but just acts as an aide. In fact, majority of our enterprise clients would rather not have anything to do with outsourcing a lot of their stuff mainly because of security concerns. RJ Reynolds for instance, a multi-billion dollar operation, has a very strict concerns for security and we go through a rigorous criteria to secure the opportunity to work with such high profile clients.
M: Alright! So what’s the most common thing that your customers ask you?
R: One of the biggest services that we sell our customers is design, development and messaging. Whether it be targeting a line of businesses or end users, we craft the message, the call to action and the channels through which they will come to interact with our client’s brand. Typically a website, web or mobile app, or some form of email campaign. Our strategy is very encompassing and we take into consideration not just the channels we typically deliver ourselves, but also consult with our clients on mediums where we don’t necessarily dabble in…TV for instance. We believe that well devised strategies cover a wide range of outlets. We don’t yet offer TV advertising, but we have worked in tandem with other agencies that do providing voice and sometimes creative direction for a given spot.
M: Great! my next question will be about predicting the future. What do you think will be the next big thing in your company three to five years down the lane.
R: For Fahrenheit I think that in the next five years (pause)? we will probably be acquired! (laughs). We’ve already been approached by a couple of companies in New York and one in Dallas. These are firms that would like to have a presence in Austin but rather than building from scratch, they can start out with an established name and eventually move in and grow. We haven’t come to an agreement yet but you never know. I think within the next five years we will probably be in a position to be absorbed by a much larger agency. That’s what I’m guessing.
M: Very interesting! So is there any tip or advice you’d give to anyone reading this blog? Whether it’s a friend or a budding entrepreneur?
R: I would say don’t try to be all things to all men. That is is a mistake that I made when I started Fahrenheit. We try to help and serve everyone that came to us and that was an effort in futility. We signed a lot of contracts and we had 24 people at the agency all working in different directions and we didn’t really have a cohesive core competence. So my advice is choose your clients well. Today out of ten leads we only sign 1. So we are very selective of the people that we work with and these are good viable clients and they just fit the model of what we’re trying to do. So creating a solution for every client that comes to you whether that is your core competence or not is a disaster. Don’t try to be all things to all men, choose your core competence, be very good at that, and then you will you have a place for yourself in the market.
M: That’s great Ricardo. So we have come to the end of the Q/A session. Thanks for your time, we really appreciate it. All the best!
R: Thank you.