Daniel Kogan is the founder and CEO of 1Digital Agency, a global digital marketing agency with offices located in Philadelphia, PA, and Miami, FL. Dan has been personally involved in the design, development, digital marketing, and branding of eCommerce websites since 1999, and brings that management experience to the benefit of his strategic vision for 1Digital Agency. He has helped found multiple multi-million dollar eCommerce startups and possesses a unique viewpoint on where this unpredictable industry is headed next. His multifaceted background enables him, and 1Digital by extension, to effectively respond to rapidly changing factors in eCommerce as a general industry.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Daniel Kogan: I started my career in 1997. I started working for companies like GMAC and Intel as a developer. 1999 I started selling products on eBay, and then launched my first website selling Fitness, As Seen On TV merchandise. During my phases of learning, I picked up search engine optimization, web design, and e-commerce development. I quickly became very successful both on eBay and on my first website which became one of the leading As Seen On TV websites in that time. 2 years later I sold my As Seen On TV eCommerce website and ventured into the world of fashion. I opened up multiple stores in the Philadelphia area, only to learn how difficult they would be to operate. In 2004 I decided to use my Online skills and created what was at the time one of the leading premium fashion websites called emoda.com. I found a lot of success by utilizing my design, development, and search engine optimization skills, as well as paid media skills, and I led emoda to be one of the most successful online fashion retailers during that time. I can attribute all of my startup success for both of these industries to my love and appreciation of eCommerce.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Daniel Kogan: Quickly after launching my As Seen on TV e-commerce business, the 2001 dot-com Bubble Burst. During that time, we were growing so fast and our merchant account needed to be secured by somebody with a net worth of over $1000000. Unfortunately, during the bubble burst lenders were not opening their arms up to risky Ventures, and increasing our merchant processing power was almost impossible. At the same time, people that I knew were not able to sign off and help us as everybody was looking out for themselves during the market collapse.
Another incident that was very difficult to deal with was in 2007, and in 2008 during the next financial crash, my newer venture emoda.com went through a very difficult period. We had amassed a large amount of inventory and had a very large staff to deal with as demand during our growth needed more resources. During the collapse, our customers stopped spending on expensive premium fashion products almost overnight. Dealing with how to keep our staff, and dealing with our inventory levels, and vendor relations was a very difficult period in our journey. That was the Catalyst that eventually took us from a very successful fast fashion eCommerce company to bankruptcy and in the end, we were forced to close our doors.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Daniel Kogan: The most common mistake I see entrepreneurs make is growing too fast. Often I find entrepreneurs taking out many loans to help their businesses grow quickly. They expand too fast. Growing too quickly can lead to many mistakes, which I experienced in my entrepreneurship life. I suggest a slow approach to growth and taking one step at a time. Build a quality Foundation. Also, look at your bottom line. Growth without a net profit that is healthy enough to maintain Rough Waters can be a very dangerous formula for any new business startup. Another mistake seen in my career as an entrepreneur is seeing how many entrepreneurs bring Partners into their deals. Partnerships are very difficult and with multiple personalities behind the steering wheel, I’ve often found that Partnerships and having too many cooks in the kitchen leads to disaster situations. I suggest always trying to be the sole Decision Maker in any business that a new entrepreneur ventures into.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Daniel Kogan: We are an eCommerce agency, the pandemic has positively impacted our growth. Many of our clients that were previously holding off on projects have reached out to us with bigger budgets to grow their online stores. They are spending more on design, development, and digital marketing including SEO and PPC services. Most of our clients see the value of e-commerce growth and something that can help them through a pandemic like covid-19. Being online is more important now than it’s ever been. Our agency focuses on e-commerce clients and Merchants across the world and we help customers grow online with e-commerce best-in-class stores.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Daniel Kogan: I think what makes 1Digital stand out from our competition is the fact that I have 20 + years of experience In the e-commerce space. I was also once a customer, multiple times dealing with different agencies across the US. I never really had a lot of experience working for an agency so I built my own path for 1Digital and the way we operate with clients. We try to treat clients the way we would want to be treated ourselves. We hone in and focus on e-commerce, and what made my previous e-commerce stores very successful, very quickly and we fine-tune our process to make sure that we are constantly getting better, smarter, and faster. Based on years of experience in e-commerce and knowing the eCommerce landscape, customer behavior, eCommerce shopping carts, and search engine optimization techniques, we have excelled as an eCommerce digital agency. That brings us to an advantage over many of our competitors.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Daniel Kogan: What makes me a strong leader is the ability to make decisions during critical moments. I also see the vision for one digital, and that helps me guide the team in all aspects of our growth. I also am in tune with the fact that I make mistakes, and I like to go go go and go back to fix those mistakes in order to keep the wheel in motion. I’m a fast thinker, but I’m very careful with the steps taken that follow the vision in the path that I see for the future of 1Digital. Being able to take risks with the speed that we take risks at 1Digital, allows us to take chances others may not but also reap the rewards of the acceleration that we put into place for our growth.
How important do you think it is for a leader to be mindful of his own brand?
Daniel Kogan: Branding is super important for our business. It’s important to have a vision that clients and customers see when they visit our properties online. Whether it’s an advertisement or it’s visiting our website, their experience should be equal and somebody should understand that they are visiting 1Digital. If we can’t brand ourselves how can we expect customers to trust us to brand them. Branding for 1Digital agency is critical and one of the pillars of our success.
How do you monitor if the people in your department are performing at their best?
Daniel Kogan: We monitor our staff with a very transparent CRM system that we all use, and that we invite our clients to use. We’re able to see communication, time tracking, and correspondence between employees and customers. This helps transparency across the board and allows us to see where we went wrong or how we do things right. Find success by keeping up with our deliverables, meeting KPIs, and getting great reviews from clients. Returning to clients also helps us measure success.
Do you think entrepreneurship is something that you’re born with or something that you can learn along the way?
Daniel Kogan: I am a firm believer that entrepreneurship is something that you were born with. I’ve always wanted to work from as young of an age as I could remember. I think I started mowing lawns at 11 years old, selling baseball cards at 12 years old, and selling subscriptions to newspapers at 13 years old. I have had a bug in me since as far back as I can remember and I don’t think that is something that you can just develop.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Daniel Kogan: I am a process person. I believe in working smarter not harder. If I can figure out a process to make my situation easier, or my team’s process better, or a process better for a client, that is a win. If I can save a little bit of time each time I’m doing mundane items, that is working smarter not harder.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Daniel Kogan for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Daniel Kogan or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.