How DemoCampGuelph Saved My Business

Nathan Snelgrove

Nathan Snelgrove is the founder of Wildfire Studios, a creative firm in Guelph focused on everything from graphic/print design and brand development to photography. He loves movies, music, and fine whiskey.

Last December, I was in a rut.

I own a creative firm called Wildfire Studios, and I was pretty sure it was going under. Not because I was out of money, but because I was out of clients.

I had a half-decent roster of clients that I enjoyed working with. They liked me. They were all international and under one conglomerate client. The problem was, the conglomerate decided to shut down all my clients on January 1st, 2014.

I knew I shouldn’t have had all my eggs in one basket, so to speak, but I couldn’t escape that rut either. I knew I needed local clients, but I also knew that local clients are a chicken and egg problem: unless you have one, you’ll always need one. Firms with international clients often smell like scams — even if you’re running a perfectly legitimate business, there aren’t many ways for professional clients to verify that claim.

dcgIn our world, it’s not about what you can do, but iwho you know. In that sense, DemoCampGuelph is a godsend.

I attended DemoCampGuelph 22 in October, and walked away having met a ton of cool people from a bunch of amazing startups. What struck me the most about the event is its lack of pretence and pretension: everybody was there to learn from each other and get to know one another. We all wanted to broaden our support system.

I followed one woman I met that night on Twitter. She had her own development company, and she worked on mobile apps. When she retweeted a tweet about one local firm looking for an outside designer to do some app prep work, I quickly sent off an email.

I really needed anything to get by, and this gig was perfect for the short time period. It was enough for me to get through January. The design work was really some short-term marketing work for a multinational corporation called ProMinent Fluid Controls Ltd, which in itself was an amazing opportunity. The Canadian division of the company has an office located in Guelph, which means my local client roster can develop.

One opportunity leads to another, though, and ProMinent started hinting that they were looking for some long-term marketing help. They didn’t want full-time, but they wanted client services they could depend on to produce results. I went through about a month of getting to know the people and prepare my work, and I got a contract to handle their advertising. We’re putting together the first of this year’s six product campaigns this month.

Thanks to DemoCampGuelph, my firm is more than just a creative firm. Wildfire Studios isn’t just about graphic design, photography, or creative copywriting. I’m now handling the advertising for the Canadian division of a multinational. To me, this is the new start that I desperately needed.

Thanks to DemoCampGuelph, not only do I still have a job and a business to call my own, but I have one of the best jobs in the world. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.

DemoCampGuelph 24 will be held on May 28th, please register if you’re joining us.