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Startup Stories: Cameron Bryant, Partner at Sparro

Cameron Bryant joins us to chat about how he and his brother, Morris, grew Sparro to become Australia’s largest independent digital marketing agency.

by hao-nguyen on November 18, 2021

Cameron Bryant is a Partner at Sparro, a company he founded in 2013 with his brother Morris, which has grown to become Australia’s largest independent digital marketing agency.

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Hey Cam, great to have you here with us today. Sparro and Morris have previously been featured on Balance the Grind, so it’s awesome to have you with us this time. For those who may not know, can you tell us a little about Sparro and what inspired you and your brother to start it?

Thanks for having us back! My brother Morris and I began Sparro back in 2013, as a vision for how digital marketing could, and should, be better: agile, transparent, and always delivering value.

At the time we were both working at Appliances Online, one of Australia’s fastest growing online retailers, in an incredible team that was at the forefront of eCommerce.

While starting our own agency was something we had discussed (we knew there was a gap in the market for Australian businesses wanting more from their agencies) we didn’t seriously entertain the idea until a friend approached us about an opportunity to write an SEO campaign for a company he was working for.

Nearly a decade in and Sparro has grown from a two-man band to Australia’s largest independent digital marketing agency – employing more than 80 people and managing $120m in ad spend every year.

To this day our goal continues to be around solving business – not channel – problems and drawing strategic connections between everything we do. By operating at the intersections of data, creative and media we strive to drive the most value and change for our clients.

The Sparro team has grown so much since you first started in 2013, I think you’re at 80 right now? How has your role as co-founder evolved as the team and client base has expanded?

It’s incredible – we have doubled in size over the last year. We are currently sitting at 81 employees and showing no signs of slowing down!

When we first started out Morris and I worked closely together, focusing our efforts on growing the business and helping clients grow or solve complex business problems.  While this is still a strong focus for us as an agency, as we’ve grown we’ve had to rethink our approach and be more strategic with how we share the load.

Now, we keep more separate roles to keep up with the demands of the business. Morris works closer with internal management and training, while I work alongside clients to understand their business objectives and how we can help them achieve their goals.

Although we have taken on different roles we are both driven by our business purpose to ‘expect more’. This is the underlying philosophy that drives everything we do – from our client service and unique hiring process to our learning, development, and knowledge sharing.

As a company that has always encouraged flexible working, during the recent lockdown what type of things did you do to help build and maintain your company culture?

During the lockdown we onboarded 20 staff members, and I’m proud to say that our team culture has only gotten stronger. From exercise classes, to themed meetings, one-on-one check ins and trivia nights, we made sure that our team remained close and felt supported, while still having fun from home.

The wellbeing of our people is always our number one priority. Knowing first hand the toll lockdown can take on your physical and mental health, we gave our staff two extra sick days, reminding everyone that sick days could and should be used to look after mental and emotional health too.

We also gifted care packages to each member of our team, to say thank you for their hard work.The highlight of this was hand-delivering the packages to staff in our own LGAs, which allowed Morris and I to properly meet some of our new starters. While this was great for lifting spirits across the board, it also reminded us just how lucky we are to work with such awesome humans.

Lockdown also saw some of us come together to grow lockdown mullets in support of the Blackdog Institute’s ‘Mullets for Mental Health’ (myself included!) The whole Sparro community got behind us, helping us raise an amazing $8500 for mental health, which I’m super proud of. Our questionable hairdos also provided some great lockdown laughs!

Sparro is well-known for hiring from diverse industries and sectors – from digital marketing experts to finance graduates to lawyers. How do you think this recruitment approach has helped shape the agency as it has grown?

Morris and I don’t come from agency backgrounds, so we aren’t your typical agency guys. We see our ability to hire incredible thinkers and cultural contributors as one of Sparro’s greatest assets, and we regularly receive feedback about our amazing team from partners and clients.

We’ve always believed that if we only hire candidates from other agencies, we create no competitive advantage in our people. As an agency, we regularly hire candidates who are just starting their careers after university or other studies, or making a career change by moving to digital marketing to pursue a new path.

Our team includes engineers, data scientists, finance graduates and lawyers – and these different skills and backgrounds continue to bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to the business.

We don’t hire for set behaviours, backgrounds or interests – instead we look for growth mindsets, an openness to learn, to challenge and be challenged, and share ideas. This ensures a competitive advantage and sees our people truly live and breathe our ‘expect more’ ethos.

Thanks for your time Cam, it’s always great chatting with you. We’re big fans of Sparro here at The Nudge Group so will definitely be following your story!

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