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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

The Making of a Digital Creature

Oscar Foulkes July 19, 2013 Uncategorized No comments
Earlier this year, I came to the realisation that the business services I offer fall within the niche known as ‘digital’. To be honest, for someone who has made a career of marketing and selling stuff, I wasn’t great at selling my own wares. In fact, it could be said that I was floundering.

The key problem was that I was struggling to narrow my focus. I didn’t want to exclude opportunities by taking offerings off the menu. But, I also knew that a narrowly defined offering is much more likely to result in word-of-mouth, the casual chats that happen between friends (or even just acquaintances) and which lead to business opportunities.

Settling on digital was easy. Firstly, almost all the projects I’ve done over the past three years have involved ecommerce, web development, games, apps, social media, or emailed calls-to-action. Secondly, I am passionate about the medium. Generation X (of which I’m a member) is probably the last generation that will not be entirely digital. The onus on companies wanting to grab Generation Y (and beyond) as customers is to get themselves into the space in a relevant manner, but companies are generally run by older people, many of whom are either skeptical or scared of this digital world.

At the age of 46, I’ve done enough old-school commerce to be able to make this new frontier accessible to decision-makers.

So, how did I get here? In a sense, the seeds were sown when I was a teenager at boarding school. A friend had been given a ZX Spectrum, followed by a Commodore. At about the same time we were also taught BASIC as a little bit of extra-curricular inspiration. Despite the minimal processing power, we knew this was super-exciting space to be involved in.

But, for me at that stage of my life, horse racing and breeding held a greater allure, so I never developed much beyond that early interest. In about 1988, the small company I was involved in made the move to desktop publishing, with a Macintosh networked to an early-generation PC. Soon after, we started building a database of South African horse racing and breeding. I was the internal IT guy, and ended up being self-taught in all the software we used, as well as setting up and running database queries.

From my late-20s I made the move into wine. I remained tech-aware, in that computers were a constant tool, much as they are for any other working person. I commissioned websites, but I was a little intimidated by the technical background. That was until I built my first website in 2008. As is my pattern, I learned by trying it out for myself, and just kept going.

What makes my offering unique, I believe, is that my primary interest is in digital as a tool. In other words, what is the utility of the thing? How does this benefit the end users? No matter how entangled I’ve become in the tech side of things, my sights remain set on the human beings who use the tools.

Which brings me to the new name, because there were already several similarly named businesses operating as digital agencies. What about just, “Oscar”, suggested my wife. Yes, said I, JustOscar is an excellent idea.

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