How This Immigrant Created a Successful Marketing Agency
The entrepreneurial spirit translates across cultures.
Darko Dodig fled Sarajevo with his family to escape the chaos of the Bosnian War. When they arrived in Canada in 1996, he was in fifth grade.
Fast forward to 2017. Dodig is the proud owner of Wisevu, a thriving web-design, development and internet-consulting agency based in Mississauga, Ontario. The company's ongoing dedication to gaining exposure for the Canadian business landscape has been monumental for many small companies.
The entrepreneurial spirit already was strong in Dodig's family before they set foot in North America. His father owned a restaurant in Medugorje, and his grandparents operated a vineyard.
“I think if parents want their kids to become entrepreneurs, they must show them that entrepreneurial spirit by leading by example,” Dodig says. “When we arrived in Canada, the government provided us with financial aid until my parents found work. Originally, my father found a job in a factory but later went to school to become a certified financial planner. My mother worked part-time while she studied English, then opened her own business called Prestige Décor.”
What are some of the biggest differences between Canada and Bosnia you’ve noticed from a marketing perspective?
"In Bosnia, word of mouth was the main form of advertising. In Canada, online marketing has become the standard of business growth."
What made you decide to get into online marketing?
"My mother’s business wasn’t doing very well at first. She was primarily advertising with fliers, newspaper ads and magazines. After a few years, her friend built a basic website using Microsoft FrontPage and showed me and my brother how to manage it. This project is what made us fall in love with online marketing. We went on to study computer engineering and business marketing at Humber College. Upon completing our program at Humber, we went on to York University to study business marketing for another three years. Throughout our studies, we were heavily involved in web development and SEO."
When did you decide to start Wisevu?
"Shortly after we finished school. We were taking a few online classes and reading countless articles on digital marketing to learn everything we could. Within a year of implementing our mother’s website, her business was booming. This is when we realized that we would start Wisevu.com, offering the same services that helped our mother's business succeed, to other local businesses who were in trouble."
What has been your most fascinating project?
"Our favorite project has been our mother’s business: Prestige Décor.
"We were able to take her struggling company and give it exposure it deserves. Now, it’s become one of the most successful window treatment stores in the greater Toronto areas. We did all this while we were in York University Business Marketing program. We used Prestige Décor on every school project we could in order to come up with strategies to make our mother’s business a success. This allowed us to get input from our experienced professors and develop a system that would allow us to not only help our mother but launch our own business, Wisevu Inc."
The United States and Canada seem similar on the surface, but actually are very different. What are some of the big differences you’ve noticed as an online marketer?
"We have noticed the local online market in Canada -- which Wisevu.com specializes in -- is much more competitive than comparable U.S. markets. Additionally, Canadian websites are much more up-to-date than our American counterparts. It seems that Canadians have embraced the online market and have started investing heavily into online marketing due to the fact that Canada’s per capita internet usage is fourth in the world, while the U.S.A. is 13th. Although this provides us with an incentive to sell to the U.S., Wisevu’s specialization is on the local Canadian market. This has given us a competitive advantage over other web agencies.
"Due to the drastic decline of the Canadian dollar, Wisevu’s costs have increased in 2016 and 2017 by about 25 percent when compared to 2015. Since around 80 percent of Canadian exports are to the U.S.A., we are very dependent on the U.S. dollar. We have been forced to cut down on outsourcing work to the United States as well as other countries. Also, we try to keep the dollar within Canada as much as possible, even if it means paying higher wages to Canadian workers. At Wisevu, we use PayPal to pay for many transactions. Just recently, the Canadian dollar was $0.70 compared to the U.S. dollar on PayPal. To put this more into perspective, for a $7,000 USD transaction we would pay $10,000 CAD. This makes a big difference to our bottom line!
"Despite these market uncertainties, Wisevu is happy to say our clients have remained satisfied and loyal. Our company is steadily growing each year. This is thanks to our focus on the Canadian market and working with local business owners to implement the most effective, local online-marketing strategies available."