Today we’d like to introduce you to Torre Capistran.
Torre, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Hooked On Code was officially established in 2014, but it was truly born on a beach in Mexico in 2011. I built a website for the first time right after I graduated from SMU with a business degree in Marketing, during the six months I lived on a beach in Akumal, Mexico. I am too type-A to ‘chill’ for days at a time, so I taught myself several coding languages and techniques, and built a website using WordPress. I was working in a corporate Marketing Department, building websites for fun in my free time. I realized one night that I was doing the same type of work agencies were doing but in a way that was MUCH more fun for clients. I spent a year and a half building up a client (‘fan’) base and then took on building websites full-time in June of 2014. Hooked On Code turned 5 this summer and I could not be more proud of how our agency has grown in those years, nor more excited about our continued growth. I attribute our steady workflow and constant referrals to our unusually delightful experience and efficient process – we are easy to get ahold of, have a freaky good project process, are fun to work with, and our clients absolutely rave about us. We are blessed.
Has it been a smooth road?
Mostly. The 5-year journey within the agency’s lifespan has been pretty darn smooth, but there was a pretty depressing period for six months or so at year 2.5 where I had to let go of my 2 employees and reevaluate my pricing, my workspace, and my identity as a successful entrepreneur (I didn’t feel like one). I had to ask clients who had become friends for advice and referrals. This sounds crappy, but very little advice was helpful other than one client who told me that she had the EXACT same situation happen at the EXACT same time in her business, and I need to keep my head down, keep doing what I’m doing, and things will get better. She was right. I have since had another friend who is a business owner pass along an intriguing thought: you will completely run out of money twice in the first three years, be ready so you don’t have to shut down.
In terms of advice, I met a woman recently who has a website agency (same type of business as mine) that is also 5 years old that instead of 4-5 employees has 50 employees. I asked her what her system was or how she grew to that size in a mere five years and her answer was that she simply followed EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) which can be found in many books but her recommendation was one called Traction by Gino Wickman. I started Hooked On Code with virtually no experience in entrepreneurship and funding, so I bootstrapped it. I am proud of that and often recommend doing the same (don’t take or raise capital for something you haven’t proven works and turns a profit yet), but I DO wish I’d had a few books to help me hit the ground truly running. 1) Traction by Gino Wickman, and 2) Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I can’t imagine where I’d be if I had those from Day 1.
Lastly, in terms of advice, this may sound crazy, but talk to yourself out loud and do it often (in private to avoid stares and concerns). It has taken me months of doing that to be able to give myself objective advice – you know, the kind you can give friends but never yourself. There will be times when you feel beaten down or really hurt, perhaps unworthy, based on clients or personal situations and interactions. I can’t say ‘don’t feel that way’ but I can say that I have become the best person to talk to when this happens because I know myself, I have good advice, and it is helping develop more immediate rational thinking in these situations. Sounds nuts probably, but I swear by it.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Hooked On Code story. Tell us more about the business.
Oh, MAN, do I love what we do, and I could not be more obsessed with our brand. Hooked On Code is very unique – not just in that we are an all-women website agency; not just in that we have a specific toolset we trust and are experts in; not just in that we have a very unique and efficient process to build websites and make it easy on our clients; but also in that we are A FREAKING BLAST to work with. Our clients typically become either friends or fans (or both), and we value those relationships more than anything else.
We specialize in building WordPress websites for small and mid-sized companies and organizations that are clear on their need to improve/build their website, have a dedicated budget for the project, and value efficiency and expertise in the agency they choose to do the work. In casual-speak, we work best with clients who know what we do is valuable, require skill and experience to get right, and are ready to take action.
I am most proud of how we have refined and defined our culture in the past few months since we turned 5, and how we are loud and proud about it. One of our core values is that we’re fun (internally we say delightful AF); if we get through a meeting and didn’t make our clients laugh at least once, we have failed. I work hard to do every day to spark unexpected delight, and spread love wherever possible. Hooked On Code has a way of doing that almost effortlessly because of our great people, our passion for what we do, and our dedication to making projects enjoyable for our clients.
It’s a bummer to say, but the website development industry isn’t generally known for being: 1) efficient, 2) communicative, or 3) enjoyable. We are ALL of those things!
What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I’m not sure I see many barriers to being a female leader in the WordPress space – it’s a very inclusive and welcoming community. In fact, I’ve felt warmly welcomed into the web development industry (and especially by the leadership, speakers, and attendees at An Event Apart) since I stumbled into it wide eyed and inexperienced almost a decade ago. The barriers I see when I really look for them really center around the negative self-speak we as women can often have, and the doubts we cast upon ourselves. I battle almost daily with a balance I have yet to find between confidence and arrogance (the latter of which I never want), sheepishness and humility, being quiet and listening, being overly talkative and bold, and every see-saw in between. With less female leaders in almost every industry to look up to than men, I wonder if we do not have as much of a foundation to stand on in terms of crafting our own professional identities. And maybe that’s a good thing… because it forces us to find and forge that from within almost entirely… but that is hard, and I am still struggling with it.
- Easy to manage website creation and redesigns for small businesses starting at $15k
- Website development and redesign services for companies ranging between $20-$60k
- Ongoing monthly services for clients via customized Care Plans
- Website: https://hookedoncode.com
- Email: [email protected]
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/torrecapistran/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hookedoncode
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/torrecapistran
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