Torre Capistran | Owner & Creative Director | Hooked On Code
The principle of KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is not a common one to find in the web development space, where it seems everything has a way of getting overly complex. Simplicity is a proven aspect that has higher user acceptance and interaction levels. Hooked On Code, however, considers simplicity its primary core value and main competitive advantage, implement simplicity throughout its operations to deliver beautiful, flexible websites in guaranteed timelines that clients can update themselves if desired. Led by Torre Capistran, Hooked On Code has constantly been challenging the traditional norms of the web development industry, combatting various accepted standard operating procedures that she believes lead to overpromised expectations and inflexible solutions.
Torre and her team conduct a client training session at the end of every project to give them the knowledge and administrative power to make internal edits. Her team also remains involved with ongoing technical maintenance and content updates as needed, guaranteeing ticket turnaround times and keeping client satisfaction high with their second core value: Do What You Say.
By understanding her clients’ difficulties, Torre has cultivated a work culture that focuses on creating a delightful experience without putting unnecessary responsibility on the client for providing all aspects of the website content, ranging from images to text. Instead, built into Hooked On Code’s proven process are action-oriented steps where the team gathers content and drafts it for review and approval, rather than putting the burden completely on the already busy client. Hooked On Code is continuously streamlining its operations with further simplified processes with the hope of eventually creating transformative shifts in the industry.
The Initial Lead Up
Stepping into the business world after graduating from SMU Cox School of Business in Dallas with a degree in Marketing, the jobs available were primarily in sales. Knowing that for her, taking a career in sales would be worse than having no job at all, she moved to live on a resort in Riviera Maya with her two cats. As an introvert by nature, Torre had a keen interest in business strategy, operations, and design. While living on the beach, she put her heart into learning how to build websites and a few front-end development languages in her free time. When Torre moved back to Dallas six months later, she landed a digital marketing job in corporate America and remembers being frequently appreciated for her work ethic and results. However, realizing that the corporate world wasn’t where she wanted to be long-term, Torre left the job in June of 2014, venturing to start Hooked On Code.
Flipping Negative Experiences to Delightful Ones
After being on the client-side of a large-scale web development project, Torre thought it ridiculous that the experience had to be so negative (regardless of how the end-product turned out). She analyzed the web development niche and its typical processes, studied existing problems that created unneeded bloat in both timelines and billing, and found simple solutions to cut the B.S. in every operational and development decision possible. The result is that her agency delivers delight, rather than the horrendous experiences that the industry is known for, such as:
- Missed deadlines/ghosting
- Poor communication
- Bloated/self-serving processes
- Inflexible solutions
- Holding client websites hostage
Torre asserts, “Many of these issues are resolved through clear and prompt communication. By setting detailed expectations, ensuring we do not overpromise along the way, clients feel informed and our team is better equipped to meet deadlines and do what we say. Our high level of proactive communication and structure sets us apart from many in our industry.” She and her team keep a partner’s perspective that helps them actively look for the things to lessen clients’ worries while ensuring they are heard. Sharing one of her favorite facts about her agency, Torre tells us, “We have never missed a launch date.”
Hooked On Cooked is rooted on the firm foundation of four pillars (their Core Values):
Simplicity: finding a straightforward, effective, and sustainable solutions, always avoiding unnecessary complexity.
Relentless Forward Motion: The team is constantly learning, improving, and finding innovative approaches compared to conventional methods.
Do What You Say: Defying the odds in an industry with exact opposite norms. And finally, striving to spread
Delight in every interaction.
Torre loves her work but also shared her frustration with the haphazard norms that she encounters when taking over client websites who’ve had a horrible experience in the past. She says, “The norms in the web development space are mostly inefficient, inflexible, and work in favor of agencies but not clients. I am working to address these ridiculous and outdated practices in our niche, starting with our own operations, hoping that the positive impact of doing so will spread.”
Torre envisions growing her team to 25 people. One of the reasons she hopes to see the team grow is to create more dream jobs, especially for women with families seeking flexible jobs that aren’t available anywhere. She wants to create a workplace culture that allows her team to be autonomous, valued for their expertise and contributions, and challenged while staying small enough to be nimble, flexible, and fun. She dreams of growing awareness of Hooked On Code, being known as the best place to work in the remote micro-enterprise space, and delivering incredible experiences to more clients.
We asked Torre what advice she might give to other women interested in breaking into the technology or entrepreneurial space. She advised women entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the Web Development sector to learn as much as possible. She interned (unpaid) one afternoon a week for a small agency which helped me learn quite a bit about the reality of running a small creative agency, and what working for one and running one might be like.
Torre expresses, “If possible, find a mentor who has been where you are and who has taken their business where you want to go. Their time and experience are a valuable gift.” She adds that entrepreneur organization and the EO Accelerator program can also be hugely impactful. She feels that they help you gain access to both community and rock-solid guidance to grow your business while dealing with the toughest challenges.
Torre says, “Surround yourself with intelligent, motivated women who want to be a part of making a difference in their world —partner with them. Work for them. And most of all, hire them.” “Hire women who want to succeed and then do everything in your power to help them reach their goals, even if those goals take them away from your company. The dreams, ideas, and solutions that come out of a team full of people that can change industries,” Torre concludes.