Interview with Kaila Troia, Co-Founder of Capital District Digital, based out of the Troy Innovation Garage, about the story of the company founded by her and her partner Anthony Troia.
Can you tell a little about yourself, who you are and what you do?
I’m one of the co-founders of Capital District Digital. Me and my partner, Anthony Troia, started this company four and a half years ago. We offer all-inclusive digital marketing packages to small and medium sized businesses in the local area. We do our best to try and package everything together for a company so they don’t have to spend thousands of dollars up front and all of their basic digital marketing needs are already put together. It could be a new website that’s mobile responsive, their web hosting, SSL certificate, search engine optimization, back-end website maintenance; we try to put that all together for a small business for a low monthly cost.
How did you get where you are today? What’s your story?
Both me and Anthony used to work for local newspapers and they were trying to expand their sales because of course, newsprint sales are on the verge of dying out. They needed to supplement their newspaper sales with something else, so a lot of them got into selling digital products like websites and search engine marketing and Anthony was on the retention side of the newspaper that he worked for, so he was seeing clients cancel and why they were canceling. A lot of it was because prices were so high that a small business could not sustain it in the long term. Others were because of customer service, with not enough follow through. So we thought that we could fill that gap that a lot of local competitors weren’t offering, so that’s why we have the pricing model we do and we’re very hands on with our clients. We know providing excellent customer service is one of the most important things.
Your company also does a lot of work with ecommerce. Did you provide that service from the start or did you find yourself picking up new features as you grew as a company?
We picked up new features. Actually, in the very beginning we were mainly doing directories and offering landing pages to clients. Then it evolved into the all-inclusive packages we’re doing now and as we were getting more and more clients who had a need for ecommerce, we were beginning to focus more on that. Within the last year, we developed our own wordpress plugin in a partnership with a payment processor over in Utah and it’s a premium style plugin, sort of like a paypal pro, in which the credit card processing form is right on the customer’s website. We do it where it’s the same 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction that all the other companies charge, but we’re not charging a monthly fee for the premium service of having that credit card form there. We are trying to offer something to our clients that’s not going to add an extra cost for them, but they’re still getting that premium service.
Relating to your company name being Capital District Digital are your customers mainly in the Capital District Region?
I would say 95% of our customers are in the Capital District local area. We just signed up a client yesterday who’s down in Cairo, NY, that’s about an hour away. We have a couple clients in New Jersey, but our focus is the Capital Region because we do want to see all of our clients in person and build a relationship.
So your company does the majority of its work locally and has an office at The Garage. How has the Troy Innovation Garage and the community around Troy impacted your business?
Capital District Digital is a small business; we’ve been building our client base for the last four years. Before we came to the Troy Innovation Garage we had a home office because with our business we can work anywhere that we bring our laptops. So the Troy Innovation Garage actually has been a very influential and important move for us. It allows us to not only socialize with other garage members, but it gives us a place where we can bring clients and they’re wowed. We’re not just saying, “Hey we’ll meet you at a coffee shop!”, but they now can come to our office and now we have this grand space with four different meeting spaces to choose from. Every single one of our clients that comes here are speechless and wondering how they can get involved.
What has been the most impactful experience you have had as a company?
I would say in fall 2016, we’re members of the Capital Region Chamber and I went through their entrepreneurial boot camp course, which is a semester long course that meets two times a week for pretty much the entire fall. That really helped us solidify a business plan. It helped us make connections both in our field, as well as in a bunch of other fields. We have actually gone back every semester following, to help every new class come in with their marketing. That semester I went through it, I ended up getting third place in the business plan competition, so that’s really helped us get organized and see what we’re missing in our company.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give to your younger self or other entrepreneurs just starting out?
Believe in yourself, believe in your ability. Even when we first started the business, I had the hardest time believing that what I was putting out was good enough. Even though clients were happy and telling me this is exactly what they want, my mind was telling me, well there’s other stuff you could be doing and maybe you’re not good enough. So what I would definitely say to myself is believe in yourself; that your good enough and that you’re going to have a successful company. All that all the hard work you put in is going to be worth it. It may be hard at first because you may be working a full time job and doing this on the side or you may be working nights, weekends, around the clock to make your business successful and actually come to fruition, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.