It all started in the back bedroom in 2007...
In 2007, LTF was just one guy (Me) in the spare bedroom. I’d just taken on, what felt like at the time was, a HUGE mortgage (little did I know!), my girlfriend was expecting our first baby, and I’d decided to leave the relative safety of my last company (which we’d put up for sale) and its salary and bonuses, for the utter terror and uncertainty of pure freelancing / self-employment.
Myself and my childhood friend Simon had always done the occasional website project “on the side”. He was working from home back in Brighton (my home town), and I was now up in Northamptonshire, but usually working for clients in London (where most of my network resides having lived and worked there for 5 years). But now I had a baby on the way, a wife about to go onto statutory Maternity Pay, and a big mortgage to pay… Argh!
The journey began with a great arrangement with my friend and former business partner, Tom, who agreed to put LTF (Me!) on a retainer so he could still deliver for clients whilst the sale of our previous business went through. As it usually does, the sale of that business took months, and so I was able to hit the ground running with a regular 2 to 3 days a week of design and consultancy whilst I worked to build new contacts and clients both in London and locally in Northamptonshire.
In the beginning, I can trace the initial growth of LTF down to just a few key “connectors” through whom I met and subsequently worked with several great clients, who then in turn went on to refer me into their own networks for business, and so on. There was Stephen Rapport (now Founder of Pact.com) who actually found my ad on GumTree.com of all places, and went on to work with LTF for over 5 years with his CrashPadder.com website (which was sold to AirBnB!).
During my time working with Stephen, he referred me to several hugely important and valuable clients including Georgie & Bryony from LikeMinders (now a client of LTF’s for nearly 10 years!).
There was Julia Langkraehr, an absolute force of an entrepreneur and an incredible Woman. Julia put her faith in my new venture and commissioned us to re-brand and deliver a website for her multi-million pound retail business, and went on to introduce me to MANY key clients in LTF’s growth, including Samantha Collins with Aspire (again now in their 10th year working with LTF). There were many supports, connectors, friends and contacts that put their belief in me and helped me build LTF from the spare room, into what it is today.
In addition to my networking, I felt I needed an outreach strategy too to establish myself in the local area (I knew NOBODY here). My first port of call was to start attending local networking events which (while I did meet some interesting people and a couple of clients) looking back didn’t yield a lot.
It was my decision to reach out to as many printing companies, and marketing consultants, that really made the difference. One firm in particular, JR Press run by Geoff Fone, were extremely welcoming, and made almost an instant decision to refer ALL of their website design enquiries to me.
Not only that, but after a few months of being partners, Geoff decided he liked my approach, and would like to retain me to help JR Press with their own online marketing (this was probably my first ever Digital Marketing customer now I think about it!).
Through my work with JR Press, I met many local businesses who became clients. Two of note are Rofin Baasel, now in their 10th year of being an LTF client, and Phoenix Metals, also in their 10th year of being an LTF client! All of these people have invested in their design and online marketing with LTF every single year, and continue to do so.
After only 6 months of working alone, with the occasional bit of web development from Simon down in Brighton, I was overwhelmed with the workload and decided to seek out help. I wrote to Northampton University looking to connect with recent graphic design graduates and was lucky to meet Matt Holland (now entering his 9th year with the business and very much my right hand man!).
6 months of Matt and I working in my spare room was quite enough and I made the big decision to invest in an office for LTF. The budget was small, and the fear factor was huge! But we found Yorks Farm (still our home now) and Peter the Farmer became our great friend and Landlord! Moving into that tiny little barn was SO exciting, and Matt and I felt like proper entrepreneurs with our tiny meeting table and grown up desks with spinny chairs.
The 3 years following that move into an office saw probably our steepest growth curves, with revenue almost doubling each year for 3 years in a row, and the taking on of 2 further full time employees.
In 2012 we had outgrown our tiny barn, and were also getting involved in projects with larger clients that required more meetings and “thinking space”, so we decided to work with the Farmer to renovate one of the larger barns on the farm, and make it LTF’s new home. It was a massive FIVE TIMES the size of our previous barn, and had its own kitchen, meeting room, reception area, and server room.
One of our awesome Klarifi platforms
In our new lovely home, we continued to flourish and grow. Bringing on new members of the team on both a full time and what I call “Permalance” basis along the way, and winning some fantastic clients along the way… always punching above our weight, and focusing on the next thing and innovating.
In June 2018 we will see our 10th anniversary! And many of our clients will have been with us since the very beginning, which is testament to them and the work we do with them.
Here’s to the next 10 years. Come join us on the journey!
Highlights have included…
- Delivering the online Journal of Sport Therapy for Birmingham University and launching it live with Graham Taylor (former England Manager)
- Winning Digital Agency of the Year at the Digital Experience Awards beating several big london agencies
- Winning Best use of SEO at the Digital Experience Awards, even beating MoneySuperMarket.com
- Having my daughter!
- Delivering a Nationwide Digital Marketing campaign for the NHS recruiting Nurses and Doctors into Northamptonshire
- Working with the one and only Timmy Mallet on his websites, and receiving a personal commissioned painting from him of my family on Brighton beach!
- Winning best IT reseller website with Servium
- Launching our sister company Klarifi and delivering award winning projects
- Delivering our first ever 6 figure project for a large US based company
- Delivering Barclaycard’s internal magazine
- Getting married!
- Delivering a Nation wide Social Media campaign for MornFlake with a £250,000 budget
- Building a system that helped LikeMinders grow 500% in one year!!
Here's to the next 10 years!
Rick O’neill, FRSA
Rick O’Neill, Founder of LTF Digital, is a digital consultant to the medical aesthetics, cosmetic surgery and pharma sectors. With more than 20 years’ experience in digital marketing. He is also a founding partner of The Aesthetic Entrepreneurs, investor and advisor to several other digital businesses and is currently digital consultant UK and Europe to Merz Aesthetics.
We’re with you for the long haul. And that means working for your business, not just a project. Delivering quality, not just a job. So we’re professional, process-oriented and a true partner to our clients. We can’t imagine it any other way.
In 20 years, we’ve built up a roster of some of the UK’s finest digital talent. We bring you the best in-house skills, whatever your needs and however your business develops. It’s all part of our partnership commitment.
Thanks to a wealth of experience, there are very few sectors where we’re starting from scratch. From law to education, e-commerce to B2B, aesthetics to industrials, we’ll hit the ground running..