First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Arya Bina: Excellent, thank God everyone is healthy. We focus on spending time with one another and using these times the best we can.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Kobe Digital.
Arya Bina: I am an Iranian American tech entrepreneur. I got my start in business in 2010 at the age of 16 by founding Cheap Travel Hunter, an OTA focused on discount leisure travel. I started Kobe Digital after the acquisition of Cheap Travel Hunter by leveraging the learnings from that venture in regards to marketing.
How does Kobe Digital innovate?
Arya Bina: At Kobe Digital, we look to innovate through our processes and approach to the relationship. We have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the fact that brands have a lot of different options when it comes to marketing, not just in terms of partners but approach as well. We feel strongly that a reason there has been strain between agencies and brands has been a simple lack of effort and empathy, especially regarding the discovery process and the execution of the planned approach.
We have really taken the time internally to build our team and our processes to approach issues holistically. We don’t want to be a company that does one or two things right and then tries to fit any problem into our solution. We look to build and develop a strong relationship, understand the issues and challenges at hand without assumptions, and then assess if our team is the correct choice for the brand’s needs. If we feel we have something to offer, then we make sure the approach we develop is meaningful and measurable so both parties can feel like their needs and expectations are being met and exceeded.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Arya Bina: Like many companies, the coronavirus made us reevaluate our entire business in 2020. Especially early on, it was difficult to know what the landscape would look like, not just for us but for our clients. The focus from day one has always been to ensure we have our clients’ and our employees’ best interest at heart. We knew there would be some tricky obstacles to navigate, but that we had the team and processes in place to do so.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Arya Bina: We have been fortunate to not have to make any truly difficult decisions during this time. We had to make decisions as far as the timeline of our rebrand and new site launch, which we were going through when this all hit, but those were in terms of when not if. Relative to what could have been, those details are very small. The beginning of this all was scary for sure, but we felt good in our decisions leading up to everything that they were made with long-term success in mind, and that has been reflected in our growth. We have been fortunate to bring on new business during this time, most recently Yale University, and we are fortunate to have been able to provide for our clients and employees in the way we intended.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Kobe Digital in the future?
Arya Bina: Stress and anxiety come from a lack of understanding about the future. Whenever you feel stress coming on, my recommendation is always to step back and start writing things down with the goal of gaining clarity around what is making you feel stressed and to re-set your sights on what your goal is and what you need to do to attain it.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Arya Bina: The way we frame competition is any and all avenues where a company could invest resources other than marketing. The business world is more connected than ever, and companies have access to an unlimited number of services and solutions. We have to understand how we, as a marketing agency, can best address their needs and goals. We feel we have developed the right approaches to ensure sustainable growth, and the challenge then is not proving the value of growth compared to other alternatives but what that growth looks like for each brand and how we can ensure that.
Your final thoughts?
Arya Bina: Overall, our focus is on keeping our team safe, helping our clients succeed through this difficult time, and hopefully helping new clients navigate this landscape as well. Our team enjoys building relationships with and helping the people we work with, and anyway, we can help them, we are trying and pushing to get through this together.