Kevin Rice – Chief of Sales and Marketing at Hathway Agency

The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon changed the way I think about literally everything.

Kevin Rice’s entrepreneurial spirit and drive to understand the digital landscape across industries have given him the ability to solve real business problems within large organizations. Leveraging his own unique digital marketing insights and process for analyzing complex situations within an industry, Kevin has helped many brand leaders prepare for what’s next.

Kevin’s attitude has grown both his own career and the success of Hathway Agency, which is soon expanding its offices from San Luis Obispo, California, to San Francisco, and which has nearly 50 employees to date. Clients include TransUnion, Behr Process Corporation, Applied Materials, Inc., Titleist, and Transamerica Corporation. Hathway also ranked No. 601 on the 2014 Inc. 5000 list. Kevin and his wife, Cassy (one of his greatest supporters), live in San Luis Obispo, California, where they enjoy running, hiking, and days at the beach.

Where did the idea for Hathway Agency come from?

Through our experience working with big brands and observing how slowly and inefficiently some of them make decisions, we saw an opportunity to create a different kind of agency: one that would help its clients think, act, and innovate like a startup. This means helping them stay agile and work quickly, yet effectively.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I incorporate concepts I learned in the agile software development industry. I also use the mobile app Asana to facilitate teamwork without the delay of email. Plus, I always have my calendar open so I can easily identify tasks that need to be completed and add them to the next available time slot, if needed. This helps me prioritize my day and increase my efficiency.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The truth is, ideas are cheap — yet many people spend a lot of time trying to come up with ideas. However, I believe there is value in ideas that are derived from a clear strategy. For example, if you start by understanding industry drivers, business goals, specific objectives, competitors, and audience psychographics, ideas can flow from a stream of consciousness, but with purpose.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I love the digital wallet right now; I can’t wait until the physical wallet is completely obsolete, which I predict will happen within the next five years. When all stores are equipped to accept mobile payments, such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet, and the Department of Motor Vehicles even offers digital forms of government-issued identification — which I hear it’s currently working on — that’ll be a big movement for brands and the agencies that support them.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My job is extremely demanding and requires at least 12-16 hours of work each day. To keep up with that pace, I need to give my body a healthy dose of exercise. I incorporate different workout styles into my regimen, including CrossFit, yoga, running, cycling, and basketball. Doing this helps me stay not only physically fit, but also mentally fit, and it ensures that I’m always ready for the next challenge.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I had an internship at Intel in high school, and though it wasn’t a bad job by any means, I learned at an early age that I didn’t want to end up living in a cubicle in a corporate environment.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would have taken my college education more seriously. I graduated with good grades in just over three years, but I didn’t take advantage of all of the resources that a school like Cal Poly has to offer its students.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Our agency is ambitious, often taking on projects that force us to step up our game. However, we power through these situations by simply exercising our own strategy: acting like a startup. We build up the highly skilled experts we need to complete a project and equip them in an efficient amount of time to help our clients achieve their goals.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The first agency-style pitch we did for a large consumer products manufacturer was a huge failure. We had no idea what to expect, and we weren’t prepared with the right kind of research. As a result, we didn’t showcase our true personality and skills in the presentation. Needless to say, we weren’t asked back to the next round. Over the course of the year that followed, we put a tremendous amount of effort into building our business development department. Since then, we’ve created our own approach to pitches and presentations that has successfully won us multiple new clients and work.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

The concept of mobile coupons presents a unique business opportunity. The coupon industry and its major players have a very antiquated way of collecting, manually counting, and distributing payments for printed coupons. If you read up on the industry, you’ll be surprised by how manual the behind-the-scenes process actually is. As a result, that industry is ripe for disruption by someone employing the right type of technologies and business relationships.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Flowers and chocolates for my wife. Her support means the world to me, and because I can’t always be with her in person, I want to make sure she always knows this.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Google Apps powers my world. I love the real-time collaboration that I wouldn’t get from a Microsoft product. I also use Salesforce, Asana, Harvest, JIRA, Basecamp, and Slack.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon changed the way I think about literally everything.

Which people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

While I don’t know him personally, Matthew Dixon has drastically influenced my thinking throughout the past few years. I’m a believer in his approach and evangelize his thinking across our organization, beyond just sales. The idea that people don’t want to be asked what keeps them up at night, but would rather be told what should keep them up at night, is a core philosophy at our agency.


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