Dylan Kohlstadt founded Shift One in November 2011 after exiting the corporate world and undertaking an entrepreneurship course at the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock, Cape Town.
After founding the agency alone, Kohlstadt realised the startup sector was not currently being served by marketing agencies and saw a gap in the market.
Speaking to HumanIPO, she said: “The Bandwidth Barn showed me what was involved in the startup scene and gave me the confidence and the courage to give it a try.
“I hit the ground running with two clients straight away and decided to specialise with entrepreneurs because I realised most of them want to focus on what they do best and they don’t have the time to do the marketing themselves.”
Kohlstadt describes them as being a “cost price marketing partner” for their clients and aiming to share their specialist knowledge with the entrepreneurs as they work with them, which can allow them to go their own way in the future.
She added: “My clients graduate in the sense that most of them, after they have been with me for a while, they can do it themselves. We are not precious about holding onto our knowledge.”
When quizzed by HumanIPO how this can work as a business model, Kohlstadt said she saw there was a gap to be exploited in the space of providing quality startup marketing services, but she also found it rewarding.
“I chose entrepreneurs because it was my network and the need was there. I could have gone into big corporate marketing, but that need was filled.
“I could be making more money, but this is much more satisfying. Most of my clients are loyal and they keep coming back to me even as they grow.”
An added service which Shift One provides is free monthly training on marketing and social media use.
From initially starting out by herself in 2011, Kohlstadt grew the business through the “smart use” of interns and in June 2012 hired her first “heavyweight marketeer” described by her as a “mini-me”.
The company now has four full-time members of staff which are based at Eden on the Bay, in Big Bay, Western Cape, and also use the services of a select few “approved and hand selected freelancers”.