26 October 2010


10 Minutes with Alex Chatzimikes

When Alex Chatzimikes - and his FDC business partner, Dale Moreton - took the plunge and relocated their then three-man enterprise from London's metropolis to rural Leicestershire in 2009, he never would have envisaged such a business boom.

The past 12 months have seen a meteoric rise in the marketing and design agency's client base, which now includes British Sugar, Ola Holidays and Davidsons. But what really makes the creative mastermind behind FDC, Leicestershire's full design agency, tick?

How did you meet Dale, and when did you set up FDC?

"We met through a common friend I had made at Uni. Dale recognised that he could sell what I could produce, so it all started from there. FDC was set up in Chiswick by Dale and me in 2007 to cater for the design needs of IT companies. It has grown since then to encompass the wide range of clients is has today."

When did you first realise you had an eye for design?

"Ever since I was a little child I had an inclination towards drawing. In my early teens I started stealing my grandfather's books on art or world museums and slowly started building my own collection."

What inspires you creatively?

"You do things in life just because of the simple fact that they give you some kind of pleasure. But I haven't actually managed to pinpoint the answer of what it is that drives me. I suppose it's a good feeling. The fact that once I've designed something that's aesthetic and pleasing to the eye, that I feel some sort of deep satisfaction."

What triggered FDC's relocation from London to the Midlands, and why have you ever looked back?

"Apart from having been fed up with London, we recognised that there was an opportunity in the Midlands for a full service design agency as most of the design work here is handled by web design agencies which are not geared to produce such work on a high standard.

"Here it's a strategic point. We're not far from London - if you get the right train it's 50 minutes from Euston. London is saturated with design agencies, and everywhere else is saturated with web development agencies because everyone can do it from their bedrooms."

How have you seen FDC grow, and what is the most important thing you've learned?

"I've learnt how to manage people; how to be aware of what others are doing."

How would you best encapsulate FDC in one sentence?

"We focus on your business and its needs; we design the product and communicate your services across to your target market."

What FDC work have you created that you are most proud of?

"Holmewood Hall, purely in terms of aesthetics because we essentially helped the client a lot with this. He had gone to a software development company who created a very complicated content management system, which didn't really do the trick. It was too complicated and he couldn't do things like change the page titles. So we developed it in Drupal and he really liked it because he can do all the changes he wants."

What are FDC's three key strengths?

"Our name says it all: Focus. Design. Communicate (FDC). It's our ability to focus on the business of the client, rather than just taking it on board like another project. We actually challenge the clients...and they appreciate that. Some of them have actually commented on the fact that they came in for the meeting and we said 'you can't do that' or 'it's a bad idea', rather than saying 'yes' just to collect money.

"The other one is design, because obviously we're a design agency. The whole point is that we focus on the business and the problem, then we design the solution, the product, the service.

"Then we communicate that because there's no point in having a very good product and a very good website that nobody knows about, so you need to do other stuff like the SEO and the marketing, and that's where the communicate part comes in."

Why is email marketing the future?

"Because it's quantifiable data. When you send out an email marketing campaign you can instantly see how many people have opened it, how many people considered it to be spam, how many people unsubscribed to it...so then you can use that data to give back to the people you did the email marketing for, and they can use this information."

What direction would you like to see FDC take?

"I want to keep it small and intimate. I want to be proud of it. I want to have people that really enjoy working here. I want them to be excited and I want them to be a part of it."

What is the most valuable piece of career advice you've ever had, and from whom?

"I remember I failed a mathematics test at school, and mathematics was my dad's thing, so he got really mad. He came up to my room, he took a pen out and he wrote: 'R.T.P.' I said: 'What's that?' and he said: 'Read the problem. And this is not just about mathematics; it's about everything in life'."


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