Digital space becomes more innovative and number of successful campaigns grows in Georgia day by day. There are people who looked at things in a creative way, launched Digital Creative Agency from a scratch that takes over our newsfeeds and brings international awards. Vakho Vakhtangishvili is behind that process, Executive Director and Co-founder of ”Leavingstone”, who shared his experience with CBW:
To kick this off, what inspired the creation of Digital Creative Agency – Leavingstone, where did you meet the other founders?
I met my partners at ESM Tbilisi Business School, that is currently under Free University of Georgia. The idea of creating ”Leavingstone” came up at the end of the second term when we did our Marketing subject and found out we were into Marketing and Advertising. Although, we didn’t like traditional way of doing it, so we looked through the lenses of computers and internet. We found ourselves more free in digital space and were trying to find the way how to apply the technology for achieving product/service marketing goals.
We launched our company with only a few projects in 2008, I assume they were successful as we simply completed them. It was not easy to do business simultaneously with extreme studies at ESM, that has its fame for. Besides, we were very young, lacking of experience.
In 2010, Facebook was gaining traction in Georgia and we thought it would be a great platform to hold relationships between brands and consumers in a meaningful way, as consumers were spending more and more time online than offline. Obsessed with these ideas we got an opportunity from TBC Bank to participate in a competition among advertising agencies, where the main goal was to find creative ways to use Facebook platform for brand communication. We happened to be lucky to win, got our first big client and actually, if we look at the industry in terms of historical milestones, this was the how the social media marketing started as a new direction in Georgia.
Who do you have on your team, do your roles change according to specific situations?
If we look at Leavingstone through the HR perspective we are quite expanded. We have 120+ employees, so we should clarify the meaning of ”team”, it can be just two or the whole company. We are proud that team members start their job as creatives or engineers, ending with becoming advertisers or project managers.
Each and every one is absolutely important, these are the people who produce the pieces of work that should be appealing, interesting, engaging and of course, should correspond to the goals of the client. Of course, from time to time there are projects that needs additional inputs from professions that we might not have, at such moments, we either have to get into the shoes of that vary person or use outsource.
What the social marketing field like in Tbilisi? Do you think the city is becoming more innovative?
Both social media and innovation lines of our lives go back to individuals. As I see, there are more and more people excited with digital space no matter it is a product creation or marketing, they are happy to educate themselves and invest time, keen on experiment. Eventually, we are getting to the point that ecosystem of Tbilisi is becoming better, diverse, refined… There’s still a long way to the level of Western Europe, not to mention the States at all.
As for Geolab, what is the environment you are tended to create there?
GeoLab is an innovation lab, where we want to ignite the love for digital in young people. GeoLab is very democratic as it provides environment and resources for the ideology as well. We believe that it is possible to do great things with the help of creative ideas and knowledge of digital, even if you are alone against the huge problem. The space was designed in a way to bring the feeling of alternate reality as it is in computer games, where we feel ourselves better. GeoLab is a game, where students challenge each others’ skills and are motivated to become better versions of themselves. This is what we wanted to create. What we feel right now is that one space is not enough to bring this tech obsession to larger number of people. Thus we are experimenting the models of remote education so we could impact more at a time and in places that are unfortunately forgotten, like regions of Georgia where truly amazing, talented young people live and they lack of such opportunity.
How important is it the number of professionals to grow in technology field; What will be the most crucial result of it?
It is extremely important. Not only in tech, but in creative that comprises technology and other fields as well. We need builders, we need creative people who believe in their ideas and have relevant skills to create anything they wish for, would it be a mobile application, new campaign or even a company. These people are pushing economy, culture, life and bring huge measurable, even non-measurable values like happiness. Change is good and these are people who bring the change.
What methodologies and techniques do you implement in developing yourself as Co-founder of growing companies?
It’s a very complicated thing. I can’t say I have some magic routine to develop myself. But what I found so far the most efficient: conversations with people who are better than you and reading books. Actually, reading books is almost same as talking with people but in a nonverbal format.
Your current and upcoming projects… What excites you most right now and what do you see for your next step?
We have lots of projects within various industries and most of them are very exciting. Personally I’m involved with the projects related to Big Data and Artificial Intelligence along with couple of startups like Area.ly and Nebula.ge. Besides, there are couple of other plans and worries that keeps me and my partners awake at night, more related to the future of the whole company. We are crazy about making Leavingstone, the gravitation for the most talented people in Georgia where they can embrace creativity, knowledge, craft, the good impact they will bring with the work they do and just be happy about it.
Thank you for sharing your experience!