Klyxx Creative: How We Went from Passion Project to a 7-Figure Agency, Part Three
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
In my last blog, I talked about the teenage days of Klyxx, the formation of our founding four, and the early clients that we helped build, who in turn helped build us. In this installment, I’ll be covering some of the internal processes that we developed throughout this period (as well as some that we’re still developing) that took us from a fledgling side project to a 7-figure full stack growth agency.
Once our full founding team was assembled, the question was no longer whether we could function as an effective growth marketing agency, but whether we could effectively scale our operations from 4 hyper-experienced executors to a true company complete with a hierarchy and all of the complications that come with it. Up to this point we had only ever had a flat structure, but with the potential addition of junior team members, we decided to bite the bullet and give ourselves titles and job descriptions.
Our initial hiring efforts were informed by our understanding that any new employees of Klyxx would effectively have to carry their own weight from day 1. That said, I’ve always believed that if you find exceptionally bright people and give them every resource they need to do what they do best, in addition to fostering a company culture that prioritizes learning, growth is the logical result. It’s simple, but it worked then and it works for us now too.
Now all that’s nice, but an expanding company that’s hiring new talent at a steady clip requires concrete processes in order to onboard and educate all those new hires effectively. In order to ease the burden on senior management, we effectively throw new hires in the deep end from their first day with us, putting them on an internal team, getting them onboarded with their first clients and assigning them a manager that will stay with them throughout their duration with the company.
Additionally, every new hire is provided with a master learning document containing links to just about every article that I myself used to get up to speed on growth marketing basics. Now, earlier I said that we like to throw our newbies into the deep end early, and I wasn’t exaggerating. Aside from the learning plan that they develop with their manager, new hires are personally responsible for the entire mountain of knowledge that stands between them and mastery of their chosen growth marketing channels. The impetus to consistently expand their knowledge base is on them... with the knowledge that success in growth marketing (and therefore success as an employee of Klyxx Creative) is fundamentally dependent upon one’s ability to stay current, and innovate on existing paradigms.
The transition from ad-hoc freelance team to fully structured company was just as dependent upon the processes put in place when we first started as it was on the additional talent brought in to handle the ever-expanding workload. We had to build the airplane as we were flying it... a task that could only be accomplished through extensive case studying and a fair amount of trial and error.
Having studied the internal processes of companies like Bridgewater Consulting and Google, I made the decision early on to integrate work output quantification systems with our internal finance model. Utilizing the Scrum system developed by JJ Sutherland as the basis for tracking and quantifying output, I quickly realized that the flat salary system was overly rigid and didn’t reward exceptional performance effectively on the employee level.
Our company’s entire internal finance model was and remains built upon a general philosophy of daily management and baked-in incentives for work effort beyond the minimum required level. To this end, all full-time employees of Klyxx Creative receive a competitive base salary which they receive based only on the stipulation that they work a requisite number of hours each month. Beyond this, all full-time employees also receive a certain amount of payment in the form of monthly revenue share, i.e., each month, 50% of all company profits are divided based upon the results of our meticulously tracked weekly Sprints and reinvested in rewarding our employees for their hard work. This system remains our answer to the principal-agent problem. Furthermore, any client that an employee brings in grants them direct payment in the form of 15-20% commission for the first three months that the client remains on our roster.
This reinvestment in individual-level work effort has aided immensely in shifting our employee’s optimizing metric from a model that permits stagnation to a model that incentivizes efficiency and output at a pace that squares logically with their ability level and the expected level of deliverable sophistication. This employee-first system has paid dividends in terms of both output & efficiency, and helped facilitate our smooth transition to fully remote in recent months.
Since March, 2020, Klyxx has been fully remote as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Due to a strong existing framework of remote processes, we’ve been able to not only retain our client base in these unpredictable times, but effectively grow our business as well as those of our clients.
We bring the learnings we’ve collected in our years of experience to every single client engagement, no matter their size, stage of development or specific industry. This nimbleness is a result of our overall growth philosophy, encapsulated well by one of our Growth Managers, Julio: “Klyxx is a learning culture and learning environment. It gives people the power to create their own role in order to maximize their contribution.” This flexibility and ever-present ability to adapt to each and every one of our clients’ specific needs allows us the scope and time we need to address their business model directly from the ground up, a benefit of our own business model that has never been more apparent than in the post-COVID world we operate in today.
Learning has always been the key to our progress and sustained success. By introducing key processes to guide the collaboration between teams and departments, we effectively double the value of our day-to-day work: 1, we continually evolve the manner in which we do our work - streamlining and refining our processes every time that an inefficiency is detected, and 2, through referencing the strengths and failures of previous and existing experiments both internal and external, we are able to effectively iterate upon them, incorporating learnings that would otherwise be missed.