Hugh Rees is Co-Founder and Head of Digital at Expose Media, a digitally led creative agency for leaders who seek greatness, not sameness. Founded in 2014, Expose Media combines strategy, creativity, and technology to build business value for clients through the power of digital marketing, focusing on omnichannel marketing. Boasting an impressive 15 years in the IT industry, 10 years in Web and Digital, and 5 years in Digital Marketing, Hugh is the modern day wiseman. Claiming the title of Serial Entrepreneur, Hugh has also co-founded IT start-up Inturo and digital publication My City Life.
Key Takeaways From Our Conversation
“I fail constantly. Everyday I make mistakes, but it’s how you learn from those mistakes, pick yourself up and move forward. Find your ‘why’ of what makes you get up in the morning and really hold onto that, let that drive you. Don’t be frightened of making mistakes because it’s how we learn.” – Hugh Rees
Side hustles provide an opportunity to explore pre-existing skill sets in fields you may not have considered previously.
They also help you expand your network, allowing you to develop relationships with other change makers.
For entrepreneurs, side hustles are often the catalyst needed to launch the business ideas they are most passionate about.
A good rule of thumb is to continuously be in the mindset of a small agency looking to fulfill as many client needs as possible.
By strategizing about different services you can offer, you’ll be able to determine what is working and what is not working.
This will allow you to decide which services make the most sense, ultimately achieving the highest return.
Enjoying the show?
We'd love a 5-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast platform!
Your review lets us know what we are producing is valued and appreciated, while helping other entrepreneurs find us and be inspired, motivated, and educated by our incredible guests too.
Questions or comments? Send us a voice message.
Get in touch with Hugh Rees
Resources · Transcript · Tell YOUR Story
Nicole Holland 0:00
Hey there, welcome to the show. I'm Nicole Holland, your host, and I'm thrilled to bring you season one episode two of fascinating founders, where we dive in and uncover the stories that came before the success of some of the world's most fascinating founders. hailing from a multitude of industries and socio economic starts, you're going to learn what's made these fascinating men and women realize their dreams from an inspired idea to millions in revenue disrupting, innovating and impacting humanity for the better. You never know what's going to come up in our casual conversations. So get your notebooks ready, cozy up with a great Cup of Joe, and join us as I dive in to learn how these inspiring individuals have figured out how to thrive in a time where most people give up on their dreams. Joining me today is my friend Hugh Reese. He's the co founder and head of digital at expose media, a digitally led creative agency for leaders who seek greatness not sameness, founded in 2014, expose media combined strategy, creativity and technology to build business value for clients through the power of digital marketing, focusing on omni channel marketing. He has tons of industry experience which we'll talk about in the interview, boasting and impressive 15 years in the IT industry, 10 years in Web and Digital and five years in digital marketing. Mr. Reese is the modern day wise man claiming the title of serial entrepreneur. He has also co founded it startup in terreaux, and digital publication, my city life. Whew. Thank you so much for being with us.
Hugh Rees 1:41
Thanks for having me, Nicole. What an intro. I like that.
Nicole Holland 1:43
I'm super excited to have you with us. And before we dive into your backstory, let's bring people up to date. Excellent. Yeah.
Hugh Rees 1:51
So we are now located in two countries. So Australia is as our home base and so Brisbane Australia and we are have had a service office in San Francisco for the last year. And we've finally moved that to Austin, Texas, which I'm really excited about. And we've got our first ever employee in the United States to help manage our US expansion. As you mentioned, we're pushing hard into the US because that that market is huge for us. And that's where we're finding the most cutthroat at the moment. And, and letting us expand at a rapid pace, as you said, so we now 17 strongly in our company, which is cool and scary at the same time. And we basically doubled our growth every year for the last three years. So we're on a very, very fast track to an end this year as well to do to expand and grow. So we're basically your client base is an e commerce brand looking to expand and scale. So we help brands as sort of cut through that that revenue ceiling that they're hitting at the moment through omni channel marketing, as you said, and really get to that next level. And it's exciting. I love working with brands and then my
You know, it's it's I'm not gonna lie, making money is good,
Nicole Holland 3:02
so much fun.
Hugh Rees 3:04
Yeah, I give it I get a really good kick out of it. Um, so it's been exciting, exciting challenge for us. And also, as you mentioned, I have been awarded Entrepreneur of the Year in Australia for modeling, which is cool. And then voted top 100 entrepreneurs of 2018. So that's awesome. Cool, nice little pat on the back for that.
Nicole Holland 3:24
Very cool, very cool. And as all founders know, there's a lot of sacrifice that goes into building a company building a brand and scaling it. And so I feel like we could maybe talk a little bit about that. But first I want to get back to when did your entrepreneurial bug bite you? So how, how long ago was it
Hugh Rees 3:48
so I am a little bit of a serial entrepreneur. I actually started my first business in my first year of university in 1998. So I left it As a country boy born and raised, and anyone listening knows where rural Queensland is in Australia, that's that's where I grew up in a cattle farm. And my parents were very much, very much the fostering of my my interest in in business and trying to do more. And so they, they, you know, helped me on the way to go to get a degree at university. And when I got there, I actually I didn't, I didn't really enjoy University. I didn't it just never really stuck with me. I struggled to go through uni, I struggled to do the reading and, and get good grades. And my mind was always elsewhere. So I guess that's sort of that, that, you know, trying to struggle trying to focus thing and you always look at the shiny object syndrome, we're always talking about, you know, and so, I've just got, I've got that opportunity to start working with a local travel agency and helping them with their it. And yeah, it sort of stuck. And that was the first one. So from there, I had a few shoes fails and keyboard tries. Yeah, it's I've never really had a A full time job, or actually a lie. I did have a full time job. I got a job software company I was actually headhunted. So yeah, I was headhunted to be to work as a software developer. And I work with them for seven years. But on the side, I was always having a side hustle. I think just cool.
Nicole Holland 5:17
Cool. So was that sort of a consulting role than that? When you say you were helping the travel agency? Yeah. Well, I like was there a specific company that you established? Or was this just you saying, Hey, I can help you and I'm ready. I'm a contractor.
Hugh Rees 5:35
Yeah. So it was it was that um, so my, I went to university for software engineering, so I was a Bachelor of it majoring in software engineering. So I've always been sort of that analytical mindset. So when an opportunity came up, I helped them with actually writing their booking system to actually book travel. So as doing the code, writing all the software, helping them with their local computer tech You know, networking or that sort of thing? Yeah. And and, you know, software is always was always a passion for me. It always, always was. Even I think I, I've actually stopped coding two years ago, I made a conscious decision to to sort of quit it. I just didn't enjoy it anymore. But I still love it. I still geek out about it. Yeah, it's it's a fascinating thing.
Nicole Holland 6:19
That's awesome. So how did you shift then from the software into expose media? Like what was sort of that path to get from? You were working full time doing software had some side hustles going on. And all the sudden, bam, you have an agency.
Hugh Rees 6:41
It's my journey is an interesting one. Come with I'm going to go into this. This is crazy. So when I do the juicy stuff,
Nicole Holland 6:50
well, we want the juicy juicy stuff.
Hugh Rees 6:52
Yeah. So when I was I was working at the software company. I was there now. client service manager at the time, I met a young lady who sort of took me by storm. And she had a design agency here in Brisbane. So I left my job and to help her with her agency ended up marrying her, which was, which was cool. And then we got divorced a bit later. Yeah. And I. So when we sweat, I, I sort of took the web side of things and digital side of things. And I went out on my own. And so that was a probably about two or three years doing that by myself. And a mutual friend of mine introduced me to a guy called Phil Winton, who had a design agency who needed some help with their web building web design. So obviously, he had his own I had web, so we sort of started working together, and that was 2011. When they get I'm gonna say 2011 to that Been 12. So, yeah, why sort of moved into his office, we started doing work together. And it got to the point where we were just immersing each other so much. So we was like, yeah, we're doing so much work. And we came to, I think, was 2014. We're like, this is ridiculous. We need to join forces and start doing it as one. So that is essentially how expose media was born. We sat down and we shook each other's hands. And we said, right, let's do this. And then, yeah, fasttrack, five years now. And here we are.
Nicole Holland 8:29
Amazing, isn't it?
Hugh Rees 8:31
Yeah. It's interesting journey, because we were a traditional web design graphic design company. We never even thought about doing digital marketing. Never. And yeah, it's it's crazy and how that sort of it as well.
Nicole Holland 8:43
And how did that pivot? At what point did you decide that you wanted to go into digital marketing?
Hugh Rees 8:49
So we started doing a lot of e commerce websites for our clients, Shopify, custom builds, and they want more clients. We did the web design for they said how Can you do a digital marketing? At the time? We were, you know, there was there was we had to staff it was filling it staff. We were a small agency and as agencies do they go, yeah, we can do that we can do this, we can do anything you want. We charge them a fee. And yet we're everyone's happy, small fee, and happy. And we were honestly just threw ourselves into it. And I just found that it just made sense to me. It really the numbers and, you know, digital marketing for me is much like trading the stock market. You know, it's all money in money out, pulling the levers to get the most return, seeing what's working, see what's not working. So it's Yeah, it just made sense. And so more and more, that started to happen. And then it was 2017. It was the day my daughter was born. I thought we need to do better. I need to make more money. I have someone who relies on me now. So we basically pivoted and we went all in on marketing. And now for three years like Yeah,
Nicole Holland 10:01
that is awesome. So Hugh, if you could sum up some of your very best advice for a business owner who really resonated with your message and your history, and would love to follow in your footsteps, what would you tell them?
Hugh Rees 10:18
Um, yeah, good question. Over the last 15 years, it's been an interesting journey and self discovery, I think. And we may have touched on this a little bit earlier. I fail constantly. Every day, I make mistakes. But it's how you learn from those mistakes, pick yourself up and forward. Find your why what makes you get up in the morning, and really hold on to that and make let that drive you. And don't be frightened and making mistakes, because that's how we learn. I've made some, you know, over over the last 15 years, some decisions that obviously, were not the best decisions, but I think they shaped me into who I am today. And without them, I wouldn't be where I am. So just embrace that and and really, really push forward and know that you can do whatever you put your mind to.
Nicole Holland 11:06
Awesome. And also, if you would love to share with our listeners about, you know how they can get in touch with you how they can get more support from you, if it's a fit, if they want to learn whatever the case may be, I want to turn over the mic to you for that. And also, if there's anything that you kind of wish I would have asked you, but didn't, please, you've got the mic share away.
Hugh Rees 11:29
Sure. So basically, one of the things that I'm constantly pushing myself for is to get myself out there. I've always been one sort of the person who sit in the corner and just do my thing and not really wave a flag and say, Hey, here I am. And I've had a few close friends who are very successful over the last year really, I would say, slap me in the face and say, you've got to put yourself out there, you've got to film content, you've got to produce content. You've got to let the world know you're here and then that only can can accelerate your Growth when you put it into a paid media paid marketing strategy, that's, that's gold, pure gold. So I'm really starting to do that. And the reason why I'm on this show, to sort of get get the world to know who I am. And yeah, if you guys want to follow up with me and want any help with marketing or have any questions in terms of ecommerce growth, or how to run Facebook ads, if you want to help or run Google ads or Snapchat, any of those sort of channels, then reach out, go to the website, expose dot media, it is just expose dot media and there's no.com it's it's one of those cool new domain names, or follow me on Instagram to underscore race. Yeah, and I'd love to hear from you.
Nicole Holland 12:41
Amazing and I really, really appreciate your vulnerability there and sharing because a lot of times we know all of the things especially like those of us who do done for you services, it's like, you know, the cobblers shoes cobblers, kids shoes, right. So sometimes we know the things and we want to do that. things but it really is so uncomfortable to take that step. Especially for introverts who maybe aren't used to the, you know, they haven't had the experience yet and they're not comfortable. And as you know, and as my listeners know, I'm a huge fan of Podcast Guesting it was not always easy for me. And still to this day, you know, I have discomfort when I do it. But it is so valuable and you know, with all of the different ways of doing content, like you said, being able to then put money behind that. It is such a genius move, because you get to co create so like Podcast Guesting, for example, I'm the one right now who's got to do the production has got to put it out who's got to get my audience etc, etc. And you as a guest get to come on, share about your stuff. And then like you're done, you shouldn't be done though. One of the things about Podcast Guesting is That there's so much more you can do with it. So just don't let it lay. And I just from a personal standpoint, want to say how proud I am of you because I've probably talked with you about interviewing you for about a year. And so thank you for doing this. Thank you for your vulnerability. Thank you for sharing your truth and inspiring other founders to do it too. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did with hue wreath of expose media. And if you did, be sure to check out the show notes page, where we have links to all the mentioned resources, ways to get in touch with you, and also a transcript of today's episode and more. You can find that as well as all of the fascinating founders episodes at fascinating founders.com thank you so much for being with us today. And always remember that successful people learn from successful people. I'm Nicole hollens signing off
I'm always looking to feature awesome humans who have taken at least one company from zero to mid-market on this podcast. If that's you and you want to chat about your story with me, click here and apply to be my guest.
If you are an established business or brand with interesting stories and valuable expertise to share, strategic Podcast Guesting might be the best next step to add to your company's marketing and publicity plans.
Let's find out. Get your complimentary Podcast Guesting Evaluation here.