Two young entrepreneurs returned to Kingston to grow their digital marketing business, Imperium Social, and support businesses in various industries through website design, logo design and search engine optimization.
Queen’s University alumni Wes Mann and Chris Mackey have chosen Kingston as their home base – a city they love and know well. “We both played Queen’s football and we 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 me. We’ve been great friends ever since, ”Mann said with a laugh.
During their college careers, the couple started and ran a successful property management company, Student Property Services. This provided them with a summer job and, according to Mackey, their complementary skills worked well together.
The couple ran their property management business for two and a half years and sold the client list and business practices before graduating from college. “We sold it just because we saw the business as a summer business,” Mann said. “We learned a lot, had a great time doing it and were ready to move on to the next idea.”
This next idea came from Mackey and became what is now Imperium Social, a Kingston-based web design company. “In the summer of 2018, at the start of our fifth year at Queen’s and at the end of our final year of Student Property Services, Chris was determined to be an entrepreneur and I thought I would go into finance,” said Mann. “I was unhappy, I was studying for the CFA [Chartered Financial Analyst exam] when Chris approached me to ask if I wanted to join him in starting another business. There wasn’t really a plan of action, but Chris is a salesperson and his pitch sounded better than studying, so I said yes.
After graduation, the couple broke up and moved to their respective homes; Mann returned to Almonte and Mackey in Whitby, and they struggled to manage the business from a distance. They decided they needed to 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’s small enough that news travels quickly, which is great for references. Yet it is also important enough that B2C (Student Property Services) or B2B (Imperium) companies have great growth potential. We have seen incredible support from the Kingston community as student-athletes and business owners.
Imperium helps businesses expand their customer base and strengthen their online presence through website design, search engine optimization, and logo design. Currently employing a network of around 10 people in countries around the world, the team works hard to ensure that customers 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 full-time in-house employee within the next month. We have also forged strategic partnerships within the Kingston community to provide premium media production through our partners at James Media.
Imperium has web design clients both locally and nationally, and is pushing for change in the web design industry.
“The web design industry in Eastern Ontario is known for its poor customer service and cookie-cutter websites,” Mackey explained. “Some of our clients haven’t gotten answers for over a month before hearing from their old web design companies. We pride ourselves on being there for our customers when they need us most.
Mackey, Imperium’s chief web developer, also constantly strives to build better websites, according to Mann. “It is constantly improving its skills and delivering designs that are superior to previous ones and exceptionally performing well in the eyes of Google,” Mann said.
Imperium has just undergone a new brand image as part of its continued business development. Mann said this overhaul of their image is a great springboard for the development of the company.
“A friend and colleague told us that our old branding didn’t speak to our personalities. It was a very valid observation and we took a long time to think about how we were going to pivot. We changed our branding to have a much brighter, more friendly and personal feel, ”he said, noting that they have also made significant improvements to their website performance in order to drive more traffic to their site, just like they do for their customers.
Learn more about Imperium on their website and contact the team by phone at 613-299-2053 or by email at [email protected].
This article is sponsored by Imperium Social. Interested in a commercial feature on Kingstonist? Contact [email protected]