London-based eCommerce SEO agency NOVOS, who has grown 50% last year and is set to clock £1 million in revenue.
2020 would probably go down in history as one of my most challenging years for businesses across the globe. Downsizing, business closures and the lingering uncertainty caused many companies to stall recruitment and the trend, sadly, continues. However, the huge shift in customer shopping behaviour to online channels has given a strong boost to eCommerce while creating new jobs in the sector.
It has also ushered in good news for the London-based eCommerce SEO agency, NOVOS, who has grown its client base to over 100 global eCommerce brands and expanded its team by more than 50% last year whilst hiring throughout the lockdown.
While helping its clients, eCom businesses spread across the UK, the US and the European markets, generate over £40 million in revenue, the agency itself has reached 7 figures in revenue.
NOVOS was founded in 2018 by two ex-agency workers, Samuel Hurley and Antonio Wedral, with the aim of helping eCom businesses scale with SEO. They both realised how the traditional agencies were bogged down with hierarchies, micromanaged employees, and complex SEO jargon which affected the service that the client received. Most importantly, there were very few SEO agencies that truly understood the unique requirements of an eCom business, so only generalist SEO plans ruled the market.
These market gaps served as catalysts for the formation of NOVOS — a specialist eCommerce SEO agency.
Our personal backgrounds may be responsible for our deep interest in eCom.
Antonio was inspired by his entrepreneur parents who had to abandon their successful retail business, Sebastian, in erstwhile Yugoslavia and flee to the UK due to the war. He worked odd retail jobs through college and then landed a role with one of the UK’s top fashion portal, Gentleman’s Journal. Samuel, on the other hand, had developed a knack for fashion and design early on — he had founded an eCom business, as a side hustle, selling accessories for men. His business gained traction but had to be closed to give way to NOVOS.
NOVOS initially started as a small freelance business run on the side when Sam and Antonio also had their full-time jobs. However, due to the growing work, it was becoming increasingly difficult to continue NOVOS as a side hustle — as Samuel, who was going through the mortgage process of his first house couldn’t leave his full-time job just yet. Antonio, only 23 at the time, decided to take the plunge and work on NOVOS full-time. Sam followed just 6 months later.
We were 20-something, ex-agency employees trying to make our mark in the UK’s agency scene that is already saturated with more than 25k agencies.
The biggest challenge faced by the startup agency was to establish its niche in the crowded agency market. Thanks to being laser-focused on eCommerce, the duo landed their first contract with a popular eCom brand, it was all an upward journey from there. Being in an industry where word-of-mouth and references are paramount, they started receiving work from even bigger clients which led to their first round of hiring.
The next thing to hit the agency was something that impacted the whole world – the COVID-19 pandemic.
We were quite happy with how quickly we were progressing, so we hired more staff and put a deposit down on large office space in Central London. Then came March 2020 — where we saw 6 of our biggest clients freezing their contacts.
The knee-jerk reaction by companies across industries brought in a scary time for NOVOS but it didn’t last long. Due to its healthy cash reserves, the company managed to sail through at the beginning of the pandemic. Later as the eCommerce sector became the lifeline of a shrinking economy, NOVOS continued to grow.
Scaling the agency with remote hiring and onboarding amidst the pandemic was also challenging – but the situation wasn’t unique for NOVOS. Several companies across the globe have had to adapt to the new normal.
The most difficult part of remote onboarding of new employees is transmitting the company culture.
NOVOS’ co-founder, Sam Hurley, explains the strategy employed by the company for successful onboarding of new employees in this article.
Besides boasting 100 global eCommerce as its happy customers, NOVOS has also managed to pull official recognition for its work by winning international awards.
NOVOS won two Global Search Awards for ‘Best use of search in eCom’ and ‘Best SEO Agency’ — this was echoed at Global Agency awards where NOVOS bagged an award for the category of ‘Best SEO Agency’. Further validating its authority of eCom SEO, NOVOS won both UK Search Awards and The Drum Awards (DADI) for its eCom focused SEO strategy for Bloom & Wild. The company was also selected as a finalist for ‘The Startup Agency of The Year’ at The Drum Awards.
When we first started hiring for NOVOS, we wanted to ensure that it has a positive company culture. We knew how it was like to work in toxic work environments, so we were ready to do everything needed to make NOVOS a healthy workplace.
Founded on the values of diversity, inclusion and transparency, the agency has a number of initiatives that showcases its commitment to building a good company culture.
Unlimited holidays, Yoga classes, PT sessions are some of the benefits that the company offers to its employees to ensure their wellbeing whilst working remotely.
Mental health is equally valued at the agency as the employees are encouraged to check-in with their emotional wellbeing via biweekly anonymous surveys called the Happiness Index. Holiday policy also includes ‘self-care’ days – paid time off for mental health reasons.
The agency’s employee wellbeing initiative and company culture has been publically lauded at the international search awards and featured in The Cosmopolitan. It was one of the reasons for winning the ‘SEO Agency of the Year’ award.
And the Journey Continues
What’s in store for the growing agency in 2021?
2020 has been a great teacher to us as we learned how to successfully work as a team remotely. It also made our hiring more diverse geographically as we hired (and continue to hire) all across the country. We have also made the decision to adopt a hybrid office model where our staff would come to the office only once or twice a week whilst working remotely at their desired location.
The agency’s hiring spree continues as it aims to double its size and revenue by the end of next financial year. Open positions can be found on the company’s website here.
NOVOS is trusted by over 100 global eCom brands. They are eCommerce specialists focused on growing business through SEO, content marketing & Digital PR.