Ben Kamara and Rob Gill, the duo putting heart into product development
The old saying in business is that you can pick only two of the following three: quality, time, and cost. One will always go astray. But does it have to be that way?
The name stands for profitable-viable-usable
Ben and Rob founded Provius, a Leeds-based website and app design agency, to prove otherwise. “The name stands for profitable-viable-usable,” says Rob. “People talk about triangles. If you pull on cost, the time goes down. But pull on time, and quality suffers. We wanted to offer a business that offered all three.”
Can the pair really re-think the way digital agencies work? They’ve certainly got the skills to.
Rob is the design genius – a trained illustrator and user-experience expert, with a masters in graphic design. Ben is the project manager, adept at agile development and content architecture.
Their approach is radically different.
It starts with a fluid network of talented freelancers across Europe. Whatever a client needs, a team is built for precisely their requirements. No shoehorning in idle staff.
“We’ve got an incredible network of freelancers,” says Ben. “Across Istanbul, Barcelona, Athens and Zurich. There’s also a lot of digital talent in Leeds!”
They use digital tools like Skype and Dropbox to link up remote workers. But they’re happy to jump on a plane when needed. “I went out for an entire week to work with our guy in Athens,” says Ben with a smile. “There’s no better way to get to know someone, and it’s as easy as renting an Airbnb. We’ve got three projects on the go because of that trip.”
Over-stretching is forbidden. Whilst other agencies focus on selling, Provius only takes on clients that they can concentrate on. And Ben and Rob are front and centre of all jobs. “Our clients know it’s us doing the work,” says Ben. “They’re used to working with middle men, but we build familiarity and trust, because we’re the brand.”
We’re a values-driven company
A strong moral ethos is more important than profits.
“We’re a values-driven company,” says Rob. “We nailed that first thing when we started Provius. We wanted to be like Buffer, the social media company, which is renowned for its values, and how it works.”
We choose companies that try to help others, not only those who pay the most
This means being picky with clients. Candidates need to share the same high values – which is pretty surprising for an 18-month-old venture!
“We choose companies that try to help others, not only those who pay the most,” says Rob. “For example, we work with Calderdale Council, which is between Leeds and Manchester, helping with their work with mental health in young people. They’ve been spot-on as a client. We could have chased more lucrative clients, rather than gone down the altruistic road, but the approach has turned out well.”
It certainly has. Provius boasts a long list of high profile hits, such as developing the My EE app for the mobile network. “We’ve been fully booked ever since we started,” reveals Rob.
To keep the finances transparent and efficient, the pair chose Tide. “I saw the pop-up shop that Tide ran in Shoreditch,” recalls Ben. “I walked inside and spoke to George [Tide’s founder]. He explained everything to me, and I signed us up that night.”
The synchronisation with Xero is proving vital. “Things like uploading receipts to Tide and seeing them come across into Xero just makes our lives really easy. We use Xero and Tide to do the vast majority of our admin.”
And as user-experience experts, the pair appreciate Tide’s slick design. “Like the software we design, Tide is frictionless in the user journey.”
Provius is now a fast-growing business, built on a spirit of no compromise. Ben and Rob are evangelical about the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Their advice to others hoping to shake up their own sectors?
“You can have a feeling it’s the wrong time to be an entrepreneur, but it’s never going to be perfect. You just need to say, ‘Give it a go!’”.
Check out Provius’ website here: provius.co.uk