Small business: Your business online - Guy Horrocks

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Guy Horrocks, co-founder of Carnival Labs, who is based in New York

Guy Horrocks, co-founder of Carnival Labs. Photo / Supplied
Guy Horrocks, co-founder of Carnival Labs. Photo / Supplied

When you set up, how did you get people talking about you?

A lot of it has been very organic. We had a pretty unique position having previously co-founded the world's first iPhone app company, Polar Bear Farm, back in 2007. Being first to market meant that agencies started approaching us. As we did successful projects, word of mouth and referrals did the rest.

How have you built your profile since, both in NZ and internationally?

For the last couple of years we were not as proactive as we should have been as we were busy responding to work requests. We now actively work on profile building as it opens up new opportunities. To get our story out there we engage on lots of levels. We're very active on social media, enter awards, speak at conferences and we talk to media and share our views.We've made a point of being connected with people in the industry as well as other successful entrepreneurs - they talk about us too. Working with great brands like DreamWorks, CNN and OREO provides some good case studies but you often get so tied up working on your clients' projects, that you often don't make enough time to promote your own company's success stories.

When you're small, leveraging association with well-known brands is one of the best ways to build profile and credibility.

How did you make approaches to the big brands you now work with? Had they heard of you?

We actually found it easier in the US than back home in NZ to be honest. We lost a pitch for a NZ TV channel two weeks before signing CNN for the 2012 US Elections. Americans really are willing to give people a chance, but they also really want to win. So as long as you deliver, you're likely to get more work. A lot of brands knew our work, but didn't know us.

Is marketing and PR important to your business? How much do you use social media to spread the word about Carnival?

Crucial. We are now focusing more on social media, PR and building a strong brand presence. Shareable content is king and caring is a big part of building a brand and a following in the US.

Does living in New York help the business's profile in the US? How much of the business's profile is about your personal brand?

It's crucial to have presence on the ground in market. If you are wanting to work with big US brands it's hard to really get scale if you're sitting back home in NZ. For better or worse, personal brand can be largely tied into the profile and success of a technology company. Square's Jack Dorsey and Digg's Kevin Rose are really good examples of this. We are seeing this more now in NZ with Rod Drury and Victoria Ransom.

What other brands do you look to for inspiration when building Carnival's profile?

Square, Wildfire, Apple, Red Bull, Disney Mobile.

How do well established small businesses keep updating their offer without losing current customers? Tell us your stories.

- NZ Herald

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