Regarded as one of the most creative minds in the dental digital marketing industry today, Shaz’s original company, Digimax, worked with some leading names from many sectors. They included the BBC, FHM, Barclays, UBS, HP, Lennox Lewis, Hiscox, James Caan, House of Fraser and McDonald’s.
This was before he decided to use his wealth of experience gleaned across all industries to solely focus on creating a cutting-edge company that would grow into the groundbreaking and award-winning influence in the dental market that it is today – Digimax Dental.
At the age of 18, as the new millennium started, Shaz too began his own new epoch, embarking on his first job. In a role than required him to teach an established graphic designer how to code websites, this was the first step on his journey to an illustrious career in digital design.
He recalls: ‘Mark [the graphic designer] treated me with the utmost respect – even if my ideas bemused him at times. I remember him chuckling when I kindly suggested: “If you want your customers to go ‘Wow!’ you can use this special effect I have used on my own homepage here.” Thinking back, I can see why he laughed.’
Accepting of Shaz’s youthful exuberance, the graphic designer immersed himself in everything the 18-year-old had to offer – knowledge often gleaned from the growing piles of books on web design he was accumulating and by surfing the web on a limited internet data allowance bequeathed to him by his older brother, Nad. This, of course, was in a time long before the concept (and accessibility) of unlimited access.
Shaz says: ‘For two years, I spent my evenings learning how to build and design websites by coding in HTML. I had also developed my Photoshop skills by watching my older brothers (both of whom were graphic designers).’
By the age 21, Shaz had launched Digimax, a catchy portmanteau that cleverly blended the words ‘Digital Design, Maximum Effect’. On graduating from Brunel with a degree in ecommerce and with help from friends and £3,000 saved from his freelance design work, he immediately converted his parents’ garage into an office.
Within a year, he had employed his first member of staff – a chap called Zed, who he found via an ad on Gumtree. Shaz recalls: ‘I was unable to pay him an annual salary, so we came to a three-days-a-week arrangement that suited us both. But, after three years working this way, he decided he needed a full-time job. Although, I suspect what he actually meant was that he wanted something more than just working out of a converted shed in someone’s back garden!’
Shaz was devastated at his departure but put on a brave face and, alone again, soldiered on, often working from early in the morning until 3.00am the following day. He recalls: ‘I was working myself into the ground. Time flew because I had so much work but I grew resentful about how little time I had to do anything else. I was becoming slower and slower at responding to new enquiries and this deeply upset me because designing had been so much fun before.’
The ‘light bulb’ moment came when his brother Vas sat him down and reasoned with him that he simply could not keep the business afloat on his own. ‘This was the turning point for me,’ says Shaz. ‘I took his advice, rented a serviced office nearby and interviewed my first proper full-time employee.’
In essence, Shaz had to invest in his own business if he was to continue attracting clients who were prepared to invest in his services.
17 years on – and now, with a thriving multi award-winning business situated in the heart of the capital, Digimax Dental boasts a team of 23 talented and enthusiastic people kept busy by the high demand for websites, SEO and branding – all of which are created to Shaz’s own high specifications.
His business vision is simple: create websites that deliver two ideals – a very fast ‘journey’ through an aesthetically appealing interface.
With principles borrowed from Amazon, the shopping website that arguably offers THE most straightforward buying experience online, Shaz believes in their seven influencing factors that he translates across to his own work when designing dental websites. They are:
Ever the entrepreneur, Shaz also drew on his experience when a business venture of his own had a troubled beginning. The solution not only turned around his company but also would ultimately benefit all of his clients.
When he saw a gap in the market for affordable TV wall brackets, Shaz, together with a long-time friend launched a company selling his own design online.
But, despite a great looking, functional website, the business was failing. With little to no visibility on Google’s search engine, he was losing out on engaging with potential customers. Panicked he was letting down his friend and business partner, Shaz took off a whole month from Digimax to learn the art of SEO.
He recalls: ‘I must have visited every forum, read every guide and white paper and implemented everything I possibly could. I paid for services, which promised to help, but actually did little more than dig me deeper into a financial hole. I implemented everything I learnt and very quickly realised I was becoming addicted to SEO. Everything I learnt made me more and more fascinated about the topic. I wanted to understand completely how Google decided to display one site above another site, in the string of search engine results.’
One year later, he achieved his goal and the website was at the top of Google for the term ‘TV bracket’ and ‘TV wall bracket’ amongst 10,000 other search terms.
He says: ‘By the end of the second year of business, we had achieved more than £450,000 worth of sales. We were supplying TV wall brackets to Tesco and Sony, who had actually found us on Google. My first real SEO strategy had worked! We were paying approximately £8 a bracket and selling them for £40 and more. The margins were healthy. This is when I understood that, my business needed to be more than about designing pretty websites. I needed to help my clients make a serious profit.’
With this new knowledge, he employed a small team to increase learning power and conduct research before implementing new SEO developments and ideas into their own business website projects.
Shaz explains: ‘I wanted to perfect the formula so waited two years before offering SEO services to clients. It’s an ever-changing skill and in order to keep up with Google’s constant moving of goalposts, I needed to fully understand the basics of what works when and why in order to stay abreast of the changes.’
Coincidentally, in 2012, the Google Penguin Update landed, which changed everything for the SEO industry world forever.
He explains: ‘It was one of the biggest changes made by Google to the way it ranked websites. SEO teams, who were using poor spam tactics, went out of business instantly, because their clients were penalised on Google and they lost their rankings.
‘Clients, who were using several of these companies, came to us for help and we started our dedicated SEO service. Powerful websites, combined with a steady flow of traffic, meant more business for our clients and, ultimately, more business for us. The more money our clients made from our efforts, the more money they were willing to invest in their projects with us and soon the word spread.’
Today his passion very much lies with dentistry and he enjoys designing websites for people who also care deeply about the work they do.
Shaz says: ‘I believe that success lies in the investment and commitment you make to your business and the people within it as well as to your clients. You need to be prepared to take calculated risks, to have trust in both your gut instinct and those around you, and to accept that you’re inevitably going to make mistakes. The secret is learning from all of the above.’
Indeed, they are factors that have helped Shaz to create what Digimax Dental is today – quite simply, the world’s highest rated dental marketing agency in the world.