The Tough and The Trident

Ducorp XTM
Dec 13, 2019 · 8 min read

It’s been a grueling nine months that ended today — my self-assessment of our Trident stage: disruptive and challenging. We will move on to the Arcadia stage next week, but first, a recap:

Today, our vision is clear for everyone to see.

We built our core, the XTM business, by centralizing all functions that any business needs, from marketing, finance, technology, legal, sales, etc. in two jurisdictions, Mauritius and the United States.

These two locations are typically cost-centers in most companies.

Our goal with XTM in the Trident stage was to provide commercialization services to clients such that the XTM core becomes a revenue-generating business. In this manner, we had our first revenue and have started to amass several clients towards making our cost-center a zero-cost operation.

While we are building revenues, our next step is for our family investment company, Ducorp, to invest in building or buying businesses that leverage the XTM core.

With these acquisitions, it allows us to:

(a) make sales with little overhead

(b) offer the most affordable cost (depends on the brand, of course) in the marketplace

© have few needs for outsourcing our work. We are now working on the first such acquisition at present.

At Ducorp, our vision is to build or buy companies that have a presence in the marketplace or to satisfy a need based on a risk-based matrix well into the next decades:

1. Our Path:

Geronimo Stage

XTM’s first goal was creating a culture of work, building a history together, and a common purpose.

Atlas Stage

The second was to test and share our stories and become visible.

Trident Stage

The third was to turn XTM into a business unit by offering services to clients.

Arcadia

We’re entering into this stage now, which is geared towards solidifying our XTM business and intent on making our first business acquisition.

Before the start of Trident, I advised our entire team of how challenging that phase was going to be. I pointed out that this was not necessarily from a work perspective but rather from an emotional one. The tight-knit group that came together would be put to the test in ways that would be uncomfortable as we rushed to finish our products from our XTM core, but also get clients and deliver to them. To my team, “I told you so.”

Team members that have stuck it out can now look back at the three stages we went through and reflect on the distinct feeling that they had on that journey. Arcadia will aim at bringing the work of all these past stages together concurrently.

For example, we slowed down on the release of content in Trident as we handled customers and upped our creativity and quality of content. We found a pace that we can now use to introduce new people to our team.

2. What We Found In The Trident Stage (the birth of XTM operational arm as a service to others):

The launch of our commercial efforts in Mauritius in September provided a lot of customer feedback.

In its first go at the market, XTM offers marketing (commercialization) solutions to customers:

(a) XTM Mirror — digital brand communications.

(b) Hustlemania — Customer Engagement.

© FindRate — Online Business Listings.

(d) Satoshi’s Lounge — Exclusive Club App.

(e) Mauritius Blockchain Meetup — Networking.

(f) JFCFORXTM — Street Style clothing line.

All of these are geared towards getting our clients the ROI they deserve. We believe that this is the most critical aspect of business and deals with their customer interactions.

At the onset, while we were getting clients through the door, we were not getting the type of work that we thought we’d get. Our sales communication needed to be reviewed. It’s like we were building a car and then finding out that customers want the car seat, even if that means that they were not moving.

Our business personality is not to impose our ideology, and so we listened. The market is always right.

The business choice we were presented with was straightforward: Sell the car seat, or sell the car seat until the market is prepared to shift, or stick to our guns and build the car, show people how to use it, and get some key accounts.

We found very quickly that the market for digital marketing is still viewed from the angle of the traditional marketing space. More, the content we published on various social channels was disparate and did not contribute enough to uncovering the massive disconnection that exists in the engagement of communities around existing businesses. We needed more time to build case studies to show that the shift to digital was real and how to take advantage of it.

I must add that we expected this as we’re a doer-first company.

We’re not scared to try new things and promote them. Through our trials, we’ve even gotten pinged temporarily by Facebook for an infraction. This is because we’ve done an insane amount of testing on content creation across several digital platforms, in audio, video, written, and photo. We called this the content-conveyor. We tested our thesis of authenticity as a style of content dissemination, and for the most part, we have proved or disproved the integrity of some of our subjective opinions.

Our team was also put through the creative proverbial wringer. Exhausted by the trial and retrials, but we got to a point where we can put our finger on real problems, the pitfalls, and created solutions for these.

We should say that as an entrepreneurially-minded company under the umbrella of our family investment company, we love finding good and bad. Knowledge is vital, and we can always evolve to meet the right balance. I find this to be the definition of innovation.

So, back to our findings.

(a) We saw that several businesses in Mauritius (not unlike in the US) have subsidiaries providing marketing services, have internal teams, or longstanding relationships with marketing agencies.

(b) We know that attention is shifting at scale to digital channels, with over 95%+ focused on digital channels.

© Purely informational desktop websites still hold sentimental value. People confuse digital marketing with social media management and a website. How people come to websites (as opposed to staying say on Facebook), or whether their strategy is adequate is problematic. We found that people’s needs are subjective in the face of evidence and have already formulated what they need to grow their sales through the digital space.

(d) We find ourselves in the position of clarifying processes more in an advisory capacity, getting the person to trust the data, then executing on the various elements that we put forward. However, more often than not, customers are still fixed on doing the thing they think will work, and we have to respect their choice. Our goal in business is to be historically correct with our approach.

(e) Most businesses have no real way of understanding whether something works or not online, even when several tools exist to do so. It is the antithesis of listening to the market. We strongly believe that building communities around a brand is the survival skill for businesses today and in the next few years to come. In this transition, there are opportunities.

(f) More than a digital presence, we see that businesses want a team that they can trust to handhold them through this process. The real problem is that they know the digital is becoming more critical, but they don’t know how to take advantage of it. So they seek advice and guidance.

(g) The first question we ask a potential client is: “what do you want to happen?”. A question that most aren’t able to communicate from a digital marketing perspective. It is either, we want a logo, we want a website, or we want a video. It is very transactional.

(h) As a service company, we’re focused on helping companies grow their attention, community, and sales. It is hard not to fall prey to the standard way of doing business. But staying true to what we believe in, we launched the XTM Mirror App to address the problem of advisory. The App brings the client closer to our experts when they have design decisions to make and posts to provide. They sit as a partner to us having the capabilities to reach out.

It is clear that the problem that we’re solving is one of accompaniment through the digital ecosphere. And not providing design or digital content assets, advertising, or even content.

Telling someone that doesn’t have a Facebook page to push ten unique pieces of content a week, and then delivering them that service is not going to happen until they feel the burn of the market and understand the current way people interact with information today. Let alone the fact that they do not understand why they should do it since they’ve done it the same way for decades and it’s worked. The world of Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, is so remote that it doesn’t even exist as a footnote in their lives.

Now to the good part.

We isolated a real problem that we’ve now solved — the guessing is over. Businesses need to know that when the economy shifts and the internet takes on the mantle as the middleman, we posit that several companies will be affected. That means jobs and skills. The ones that survive are those with the most significant community around them (brands). If you are not building a community around your business today, you are in danger of becoming irrelevant. Our role at XTM is to help in this process of adjustment by providing results.

So, in our Trident stage, we redesigned our communication. To help, we tell businesses what we think, how we did things with successful outcomes, discuss topics of digital marketing, discuss why it is essential to be present properly online. We will continue to showcase our creativity and community-building in all forms of content. We will slow down our creative process but increase the quality of the content we publish.

We will keep doing the things that clients ask us to do with the proviso that they consider our opinion. We are positioning ourselves as advisors with the capability to execute on providing solutions that help along the line of being useful — all under the one roof, the Ducorp XTM house.

3. XTM’s Marketing Focus To Help Clients

We’re not traditional marketers. We come from a venture-building background. We care about whether our client’s strategy is producing results. We understand that clients may not be on top of everything that is going on in the digital sphere. That’s not to say that we know every corner of SEO, dark posts on Facebook, and the like, but as our origin story has shown, we intend to drive results and adjust when is required.

I felt compelled to write the above to show the other side of building businesses and adjusting when the market speaks to you. Many are blinded by their convictions and don’t listen when the market speaks. This leads to disillusionment and failures. Admit when things are not going the way you plan, and take solace that doing gets you the information you need to succeed.

Over the months, the exciting thing about Ducorp is that we started from a large funnel of what we wanted to do, tried many things, and as time went by, discarded items that didn’t work. This left us with a more precise focus as we move forward towards being a mean machine.

I trust this story gives you hope when things are not entirely going your way. I know it is challenging to face the facts, but you must have the resolve to do so. Now, on to bigger and better things.

Arcadia, we’re ready!

XTM Mirror ; 2019

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We share authentic creations by teams within the XTM Agency ecosystem. Our work as project managers for marketing-related tasks and remote teams exposes us to content and stories that deserve attention. Read about these real-life experiences at XTM+.

Ducorp XTM

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Seed-Stage VC targeting the technology sector in emerging markets. We unearth disruptors in hard-to-reach places and channel their work, anywhere.

XTM+

We share authentic creations by teams within the XTM Agency ecosystem. Our work as project managers for marketing-related tasks and remote teams exposes us to content and stories that deserve attention. Read about these real-life experiences at XTM+.

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