Who are you?
I am Attiya Abdulghany, the founder and CEO of a growth marketing agency Oliver + Sons. I’m from a small town outside of Washington DC, and moved to Barcelona about 6 years ago. I started my career at one of the first boutique digital marketing agencies (we called it “interactive marketing” back then) — just outside of Washington DC. After working with some early-phase startups in New York City, I took a head of marketing position for a music-tech company in the Valley (San Francisco). From there, I grew the marketing department from a team of one (myself) to a fully-functional team of twenty.
After my tenure there, I took a break, did some traveling and decided to move to Barcelona. I had been freelancing to fill the gaps in my career, but ultimately, the work grew organically. It wasn’t my plan to start a consulting firm or marketing agency, but it turned out that there was a lot of demand for my skill set. Now, we’re 8-9 people across 3 continents — in the US, where most of our clients are; in Australia; and of course here, in the EU.
Describe yourself with 3 words
Since we met Attiya at her office, she asked her colleagues to describe her. And, they gave us a long list!
What do you do?
I founded this company around 7 years ago. We specialize in growth hacking or growth marketing. Our clients usually come with a business problem, typically related to them needing to make twice as much money that year. We use an engagement-oriented approach with the clients as opposed to solely a services basis. We help with SEO, landing page testing, data analytics and all types of paid customer acquisition, among other things. Ultimately, it’s our goal to fill as many gaps as we can for our clients, so we wear a lot of hats. However, there are certain things that I’ve found over the years that we don’t do so well. We’re not a creative agency. And, we don’t really focus on social media, as an example. Generally speaking, our clients make investments based on which we tell them what they can expect in return.
I’ve been in digital marketing for almost 20 years, and it’s the only thing I know how to do as an adult! For better or worse I was never one of those people who tried different careers, I’ve always been focused on marketing.
What do you want to do in the future?
The company is in a really good place now. I don’t want to have an agency of 50 people. I like that we work well together and the work that we produce together; there’s just something magical about working with 10 people. Instead, my plan is to upskill the fantastic team that we already have in place. I love consulting and wouldn’t do anything else at this point.
What have your biggest struggles been as an entrepreneur?
I’ve been in several leadership roles before this, but I still find that becoming an entrepreneur is just something that happened to me and not something I was necessarily looking for. So much about being an entrepreneur is understanding that you’re not going to have all the answers always, and that you’re going to fail miserably and not being afraid of that. And, I’ve never really been afraid of failing.
Early in my career at the company I used to work for, I had so many mentors coming out of that job — people who worked at Yahoo, AirBnB, IBM. My network of people that mentored me are so solid and had such faith in me that I just wasn’t scared of not knowing what I was doing.
My biggest issue was just that for the longest time — I didn’t have any peers that were at the same stage as I was — both in life and with their businesses.
How do you feel about Planet Venus?
I think women have a lot of challenges when it comes to business. These are even tougher in the tech industry since it’s a male-dominated industry.
While we want to say that we live in a gender equal world, that’s not really the case, I don’t think so. At one of my first business meetings I told myself that I shouldn’t look too feminine because they won’t take me seriously.
“Am I wearing too much make-up?”, “Am I not wearing enough make-up?”
That is why networking amongst women is so important and I’m all for it.