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As of last week, JBA officially became Kalido, part of the IVE group positioning themselves as a data first Customer Experience firm.
James Bennett (above right) successfully grew JBA, a company that started out as an e-commerce optimisation business in 2009.
“It’s there where we partnered with ExactTarget and focused on email” explains James.
“They became Salesforce, and by partnering with them, we managed to build a team of 20 before doubling our size again in just a year. That partnership was the tipping point for us.”
The team opened up a Sydney office to add to their Melbourne operations, but James realised there was only so much further he could go without either selling the business or taking on a large investor.
He set out looking for a buyer, turning down offers that didn’t feel like a right fit both culturally and operationally to keep the JBA strategy alive.
“I wasn’t done, and still had big plans. We grew a successful practice around our capability to work with complex data sets, enabling the full capability of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. We wanted to move towards the next phase of growth.”
James insists the acquisition happened relatively smoothly, “it wasn’t as emotional as you’d think” he explains when summing up that it had to be done.
“There is very little politics within IVE, which is unusual for a company of its size. I also saw a great culture fit, and they’ve been very true to their word in letting me continue to run my team. I would say my day is still 95% the same.”
Acquisitions can be daunting for the organisation being bought, with fears often coming quickly and dramatically. JBA has kept every staff member, and managed to deal with any uncertainty, instead highlighting the potential new opportunities that would be available as a result of the acquisition:
“I’d describe our culture as extremely passionate and outcomes focused” explains James, “the team are very driven by the type of projects they work on and the tech they use.
“The acquisition opens up layers of progression for them, and they can sit in meetings with clients and offer a whole host of new solutions, particularly across mobile and the other technologies Kalido are established in.”
With plans to accelerate growth in 2017 as Kalido, James expects the growth to continue across Melbourne and Sydney. The agency has also launched in both Hong Kong and Singapore over the last 12 months, an area they will be looking to grow.
“Asia is a big goal for us; we only opened our Hong Kong office in February, so it’s exciting to be involved in that. Strategically, we’ll be looking at cross-cloud in the Salesforce universe and how we service clients in the space. They aren’t just marketing cloud anymore; they have a need for sales or service.
“Data is our heritage, and that will drive all our customer experience work” he says.