This inspiring story is of a rising startup called Digital 55, started by Lauralee Sheehan, based out of Canada. Digital 55’s objective is to utilize the power of design to shape and transform the world around us through learning experiences to produce human-centered, value-based digital media products to encourage critical thinking on topics and stories that matter. Here is the story of Digital 55 in Lauralee’s own words.
Introduce us to the idea of Digital 55
Digital 55 is a collective of award-winning designers, developers, researchers, and content producers working together to create unique, innovative digital interactive media products and learning experiences.
We work with various not-for-profits, government agencies, and companies on research, user experience, design, development, content architecture, learning experience design and strategy, and digital interactive storytelling. What makes us most unique is our rebel spirit, rooted in interdisciplinary arts, such as music, film, design, learning, and experiential builds. We are pretty much obsessed with the intersection of creativity and tech with the purpose of supporting equity issues, human rights, and social justice.
At Digital 55, we have always been optimistic about digital tech’s power to facilitate engaging, meaningful learning experiences, disseminate knowledge to wide-spread audiences, spark interest and curiosity, encourage critical thinking, and ultimately support learners’ actionable change of all levels. We work in all sorts of modalities depending on the content and call this stacked learning.
What’s your strategy story? What led you to start Digital 55?
My digital career really started from being a musician and playing in a band. We started doing all sorts of modular development and experience design and it iterated into a hardcore digital career – thus, Digital 55 was really born out of an indie rock band!
Everything we do always looks super cool, modern, and fresh. Still, our true value is that we call ourselves rebels with a cause as we believe in designing for good and digging into complex subject matter that is changing society. With our unique interdisciplinary background, we can disrupt and intersect different thinking to design content in a way that traditional media companies don’t usually do.
What marketing, operation strategies are you adopting at Digital 55?
We are doing a lot of continuous deployment on social media and trying out growth hacking in our marketing and operations strategy. This means we are focusing on content first and letting our audiences grow organically from there. It’s been really interesting for us as we’ve recently launched an original series vertical in addition to our client collaborations. Hence, our marketing and operations strategy has to iterate because of that.
The originals are cool and exciting because we get to explore different modalities and audience building strategies on different media platforms and channels. I think it’s important to test strategies out in an MVP (minimum viable product) type format and know that you have to iterate constantly to fit your evolving needs. This helps us maximize our time and our knowledge to build iteratively and focus on sustainability.
Any strategy mistakes you have made and what did you learn?
Strategy can be so hard when it comes to the variable of people. One of the mistakes I made was investing too much time in someone who I thought could be part of the growth team for our next acceleration phase but that, unfortunately, wasn’t the case.
Investing in people and not having it work out is costly for any business but especially for a startup. Every position and every moment invested is valuable so for something to not work out is extremely taxing. What I took away from this is that you have to plan exactly what the growth team is going to look like and start going through a more formal hiring process. As appealing as it is to be agile, there is a point where you need to take more time and go through more formalities than you would naturally gravitate towards.
Share a story when you have been customer-obsessed at Digital 55
We have such great clients and I have to say that it’s easy to be obsessed with all of them but we need to shout out to the PowerED Team at Athabasca University. We’ve been collaborating with them for a few years now and have been iterating on our collaborative model to get more disruptive and responsive in terms of content, digging into “just in time” learning through our work together. We love how innovative they are and how we can forecast the learning that people really need, based on what’s happening in the world.
Using a media model that looks at building content from scratch and working in modalities that are evolving in the media space allows us to get creative with learning systems and design systems to create a series of content deployments and assets that are responsive to that specific content and ensure everything builds and stacks together. It’s a super exciting way to create digital and modular learning experiences.
Finally what advice do you have for your fellow entrepreneur readers?
My recommendation is to focus on the things that inspire you and it will translate to your success as a business owner. For instance, I am a huge film and music buff and sometimes watching the latest film by, say David Fincher, is going to get me away from the mechanics of entrepreneurship and tune into that high level thinking that is the super powerful, valuable part.
You have to care about what you are doing and not just from a business perspective but from a human experience and social sustainability perspective. Invest in the things that inspire you with no inhibitions and that will come back to you tenfold.
Disclaimer: The information in the above story is provided by the startup and The Strategy Story takes no responsibility for the authenticity of the product and services offered by the startup. Reader’s discretion is advised.
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