Two young entrepreneurs have returned to Kingston to grow their digital marketing business, Imperium Social, and support businesses in a range of industries through web design, logo design, and search engine optimization.
Wes Mann and Chris Mackey, both alumni of Queen’s University, chose Kingston as their home base – a city they love and know well. “We both played Queen’s football and met in 2014 at training camp. A few days after camp started, I caught Chris in my closet stealing some of the food my parents had left for me. We’ve been great friends ever since,” Mann laughed.
During their university career, the pair started and ran a successful property management business, Student Property Services. This provided them with summer employment, and, according to Mackey, their complementary skill sets worked well together.
The pair ran their property management business for two and a half years and sold the client list and business practices before they graduated from university. “We sold it simply because we viewed the business as a summer company,” Mann said. “We learned a ton, had a great time doing it, and were ready to move on to the next idea.”
That next idea came from Mackey, and became what is now Imperium Social, a web design business based in Kingston. “In the summer of 2018, going into our fifth years at Queen’s and finishing our last year of Student Property Services, Chris was set on being an entrepreneur and I thought I would go into finance,” Mann stated. “I was miserable, studying for the CFA [Chartered Financial Analyst exam] when Chris approached me asking if I wanted to join him in starting another business. There was no real plan of action, but Chris is a salesman and his pitch sounded better than studying, so I said yes.”
After graduation, the pair separated and moved to their respective homes; Mann returned to Almonte, and Mackey to Whitby, and they struggled to run the business remotely. They decided they should move to a neutral location, and since they had already run a successful business here in Kingston, it was an obvious choice for them.
“Kingston is the perfect place to start a business,” Mackey said. “It is small enough that news travels fast, which is great for referrals. Yet, it is also large enough that B2C (Student Property Services) or B2B (Imperium) businesses have lots of growth potential. We have seen nothing but amazing support from the Kingston community as student-athletes and business owners.”
Imperium helps businesses expand their customer base and build their online presence through web design, search engine optimization, and logo design. Currently employing a network of roughly 10 individuals in countries around the world, the team works hard to ensure clients receive incredible customer service and get the most out of their digital marketing budget, according to Mann.
“We have used this type of business model to keep costs low and run the business as lean as possible while scaling operations,” he continued. “However, we will be hiring our first in-house full-time employee within the next month. We’ve also made strategic partnerships within the Kingston community to provide high-end media production through our partners at James Media.”
Imperium has web design clients both locally and nationally, and are pushing for change in the web design industry.
“The web design industry in eastern Ontario has been notorious for poor customer service and cookie-cutter websites,” Mackey explained. “Some of our clients wouldn’t get responses for over a month before hearing back from their previous web design companies. We pride ourselves on being there for our clients when they need us most.”
Mackey, the lead web developer for Imperium, is also constantly pushing himself to build better websites, according to Mann. “He is consistently improving his skills and pushing out designs that are superior to the last and that perform exceptionally in the eyes of Google,” Mann said.
Imperium just underwent a rebrand as part of their ongoing business development. Mann said this overhaul of their image is a large stepping-stone for the development of the business.
“A friend and colleague of ours told us that our old branding didn’t speak to our personalities. This was a very valid observation and we took a long time to brainstorm how we would pivot. We rebranded to have a much brighter, friendly, and personable feel,” he said, noting they also made significant performance improvements to their website in order to drive more traffic to their site, just as they do for their clients.
This article is sponsored by Imperium Social. Interested in a Business Feature on Kingstonist? Contact [email protected]