The FCDC was at BrightonSEO and we had an interesting conversation with Fabio Embaló Baldé.
Fabio is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Viaduct Generation. He specialises in; SEO Consultancy, SEO strategy, SEO / Social analytics software, Team building, Product Management, Big Data analysis, and Business Intelligence.
Name: Fabio Embaló Baldé
What He Does: Fabio is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Viaduct Generation
Company: Viaduct Generation
Noteworthy: Viaduct Generation is an Independent SEO Agency supporting the online growth of under-represented founders and their allies.
💡The role of luck in career opportunities.
Fabio mentions that luck played a part in his career progression, such as being hired by Google due to his language skills. While luck may present opportunities, it is important to note that success often involves a combination of luck and intentional actions. Fabio’s story emphasizes the significance of being prepared, building skills, and making connections to maximize opportunities when they arise.
💡The value of supportive managers in professional growth.
Fabio expresses gratitude for having supportive managers throughout his career, from his internship to his role at Google. These managers played a vital role in closing his skill gap, providing guidance, and creating an environment where he felt comfortable asking questions and learning. This highlights the importance of mentorship and leadership in professional growth and development.
💡The pressure and challenges of handling a demanding role & knowing when it’s time to leave a role
Fabio talked about the pressure he faced while working at Searchmetrics, where he had numerous clients and had to travel extensively. He mentioned how the workload and constant traveling took a toll on him, leading to a point where he couldn’t handle it anymore.
Fabio shared his experience of realizing it was time to leave Searchmetrics. Despite the growth and success he experienced, he reached a breaking point due to the high pressure and excessive workload. He emphasized the importance of recognizing when a role is no longer sustainable and having the courage to step back and regroup.
💡The impact of George Floyd’s Death.
Fabio mentioned how the tragic murder of George Floyd in May 2020 influenced his decision to launch his own venture, Viaduct Generation. He discussed how witnessing the events surrounding Floyd’s death, combined with the emotions and heightened awareness during the COVID-19 lockdown, compelled him to take action and make a difference.
💡The Importance of Mission-driven Businesses
He also highlights the significance of running a mission-driven business. He emphasizes that beyond financial success, the impact his agency has on society is what truly drives him. By allocating a portion of their profits to charitable causes and supporting underrepresented founders, Fabio demonstrates the power of aligning business goals with a greater purpose. This underscores the growing recognition and demand for businesses that prioritize social responsibility and actively work toward positive change.
Confidence as a crucial soft skill.
Fabio emphasizes the importance of confidence in interviews and recommends approaching them with the mindset of showcasing why the company needs to hire you. The conversation acknowledges the struggle with confidence that some black and brown individuals may face and discusses the need to foster a mindset shift from seeking acceptance to asserting one’s value and skills.
The driving force of a meaningful mission.
Fabio Embalo emphasizes the significance of having a strong mission that goes beyond profit-making. He shares how his agency’s work is driven by the potential to create positive social impact, such as supporting education, combating slavery, and aiding marginalized communities. This showcases the power of aligning business goals with a meaningful cause.
Hiring based on character traits rather than just technical skills.
Fabio emphasized the significance of hiring individuals with good hearts and a genuine belief in the agency’s mission. He mentioned that during interviews, he assesses whether candidates are trying to impress him with their SEO knowledge or if they truly understand and align with the agency’s purpose. This insight highlights the value of hiring employees who share the same passion and vision, as it fosters a stronger connection and commitment to the agency’s mission.
Positioning Viaduct Generation to attract the right clients
The conversation delves into the challenge of positioning a niche agency like Viaduct Generation, which focuses on helping black-owned businesses and underrepresented founders. Fabio explains the need to educate and support these businesses, as they often face barriers in accessing funding and resources. The agency’s positioning aims to attract these clients while collaborating with charities, conducting free workshops, and partnering with black-owned marketplaces.
He mentioned the lack of funding for black-owned businesses, sharing statistics that emphasize the challenges they face. The company positions itself as an agency that understands these unique hurdles and offers practical solutions. They attract clients who resonate with their mission and value the support the organization provides.
Connect with Fabio
Chima Mmeje 0:04
All right, so hi, everyone. Well, it’s five year right now. I’m like crazy excited, crazy, crazy excited. Fabio is the only. Okay, he was a black agency. That is mission focused. He provides data marketing services, mostly SEO for for people. But I love the fact that he’s focused on small businesses that might not have been able to afford it with bigger agencies, and then they get the SEO services that they need to grow their businesses.
It’s a great mission. So if you are looking for us, Mr. Casey, please reach out via adaptogen amazing company. So I’m going to start as we always do, go all the way back to before SEO go all the way back to even before marketing. Five is going to tell us what his first job was and how he got that job. Like when he was still younger.
Fabio Embalo 0:55 So the first job two years I was an intern first and foremost, you know, my my sister, who’s an SEO I was 19 years old.
Chima Mmeje 1:07 I didn’t intend in at 19
Fabio Embalo 1:09 Yes, yes, I was in my second year of uni. My sister who’s much more experienced as CEO.
Chima Mmeje 1:14 Okay, hold on. Let’s pause here. Now, you got your first job ever when you were in uni? Yes. Okay, that’s, that’s that is. That is brilliant, because almost everyone I’ve spoken to has had some form of job where they’re like 10. Doing all sorts
Fabio Embalo 1:30 of Whetstone those getting complimented.
Chima Mmeje 1:34 And you have Christian boy 19. That means we have to go back to university. What did you study investing?
Fabio Embalo 1:44
So I went to uni, I actually went to you need to do international business first. Okay, that was the first degree. No, it was what you started with? Well, I started with, okay. But then you were supposed to go and study abroad.
Second year, okay. And at the time, I was in a relationship with someone and I didn’t want to leave them behind. Okay, so I changed courses and the two courses at the same time Marketing and Economics.
Chima Mmeje 2:07 History switched for love. I switched for love. I did.
Fabio Embalo 2:13 Yes, I did. That was your love.
Chima Mmeje 2:16 So you switch from from business from international business? Yes to doing a course in Marketing and Economics and economics. Did you think that’s was a decision that you don’t regret?
Fabio Embalo 2:28 I don’t regret it at all. No. You know, I love the economics. I thought I was going to work in a bank. But then all of a sudden, I saw the marketing world. And I was like, these guys are so chilled. They don’t do anything in my mind. So you know, I went into the marketing instead.
Chima Mmeje 2:41 Alright, and then you get an internship, how did you get an internship? Was it through like your network? Did you have to apply? What was that process like getting your first internship,
Fabio Embalo 2:49 so a little bit of both. So as I was trying to say, at the start of the conversation, my sisters are much more experienced SEO than I am. She has been in the industry since 2003. And her first ever Job was a place called Media calm, very well known. And she still had connections there. And you know, when I was looking for an internship, she just made me apply in
Chima Mmeje 3:13 the user network to get where you want elections, connections to get where you want. Never be ashamed of that, for sure. All right. So what was your for what are you doing as an intern? Searching coffee?
Fabio Embalo 3:26
No, I wish I always been easier. Now at the time. I remember I will never forget my first day I went, I went into work. And they were like, oh, so do you. Do you know how SEO like how SEO works? And I remember reading like, I think we spoke about it on our podcast, actually reading one paragraph about SEO in my marketing book. So I was like, Yeah, I know what SEO is, you know, and then they were like, Okay, fine. Do a keyword research for us.
So I was there like, wow, like, big test? Yeah. Keywords, you know, so they don’t quite understand what I had to do. So it’s almost like, university is great for the theory, but it’s not great. For the practical, practical part. Yeah. So yeah, they had me doing a lot of keyword research they had me doing, they had me preparing a lot of presentations, so that they could then go and share with clients. At the time, I was like, continent outreach, part of the continent outreach team.
So I was doing a lot of 19 and 19. Yeah, as an intern. I don’t know how that’s a lot. How highly these pics of media come in, but they’ve changed. So yeah, I was doing a lot of like, outreach as well. So it was a three month internship, where I learned a lot. It was amazing.
Chima Mmeje 4:42 Okay, so what followed after that,
Fabio Embalo 4:45 I went back to uni for third year. And then I got like Mediacom asked me to be to work for them as an intern whilst I was a unit. Okay, and then I want to finish third year I moved to London. Okay. They hired me as an as an SEO Exec. And and then I got a lucky role. Google was as a Google analyst, as a marketing analyst.
Chima Mmeje 5:12 Why do you say lucky? Why do you use the word lucky?
Fabio Embalo 5:14 Because I, one of the main things that they liked was the fact that I spoke so many languages. And the languages I speak, I only speak them by Lakka. It’s not like I learned them, you know, like, I speak six languages. And languages. Please speak Spanish and Catalan. Okay. Both from Spain, be from Spain, right?
Yeah, I was born and raised in Spain. Okay. But from Spain, then I speak Portuguese. Okay. And the reason why I speak Portuguese is because my parents are from a country called Guinea Bissau. Yes. And in that country, they speak Creole and fuller. Okay. So that’s what’s that? Five? And then I speak English, because, you know, I moved here. So you know, is lucky really is not like, I was able to speak six languages.
Fabio Embalo 5:59 So they love the they love da, which is why, of course, I still had to interview and go through the process. But you know, it’s luck was on my side.
Chima Mmeje 6:07
So you work for Google as an analyst? Yes. For two years. Okay. Tell us about that. What is what is it Google analysts do a marketing analyst, marketing analysts? What what what did you really involve?
Fabio Embalo 6:19
So it was a lot of the time ensuring that whatever campaigns we’re putting out well, right, you know, understanding the data behind those campaigns as well. How is it reacting? What the numbers saying? You know, it was, it was okay. It was like, I don’t want to know we
Chima Mmeje 6:37
have we get into everything. Yeah. Because we’re trying to give people that are getting into SEO, the full picture. So hold nothing back. You sound like if you’re holding back on something that you want to be saying, No, how was it
Fabio Embalo 6:49
is more like, you know, I was a junior at the time. So I think I’ve always been quite a, an ambitious person. Okay. So it’s almost like, although I knew where I was, I didn’t live on my own.
Okay, one more than this type thing. You know, so yeah, it was great. It gave me great experience. It allowed me to understand the platform that today I sort of represent really well. And yeah, it was, it was a good role. I can’t complain. Alright, so you love free stuff.
Chima Mmeje 7:18 You worked at Google for two years? When did you know it was time to live?
Fabio Embalo 7:23 When another company came through the door with a bigger salary.
Chima Mmeje 7:28
Okay. Okay. So it was about money for you. It was about money. All right. So cool. Now, still on GOG, or something I always ask people is that when you walk into your first role, there is a lot of gap.
What I like to call the skill gap, where working your first role we talked about this yesterday with with Andy, we talked about, we talked about this with a lot of our guests that What are you What do you do to close that technical skill gap? When you’re starting in a foster your first like, proper job?
Fabio Embalo 7:58 That’s a magnificent question. Look, I was very lucky in every role that I had. People were very like those above me were very helpful. You know, honestly, I can’t stress that enough. I media karma had amazing managers really good people really good at their job. That taught me a lot.
Google the same thing even worked the full width BMX after, and my boss was now the person that is now the Director of risin. Seven, insert Tasha. She was also amazing. And then yeah, the following choices I’m sure we’re gonna talk about in a second, I was always lucky, always lucky to have amazing people above me. That taught me what I needed without fully putting pressure on me.
Chima Mmeje 8:40
I’m going to say something here. I don’t believe that luck plays a role in success, because I think their management should be intentional. That’s that’s whole journey. Because there was something Andy said yesterday, if you watch the interview with Andy, he will say it. And it’s Andy attributed his one bad job, to bad management to micromanagement.
And then everyone will move on from that job went on to do great things, which tells you that it wasn’t about the people not being good at their job. It was the fact that they had bad managers. And then you just referenced that the first role that you had as an intern, you had great managers, even though it was an internship that allowed you to learn and to grow.
And then you said that carried over to Google. So Luck has nothing to do with it. But and everything to do with having great managers who support you and then those are the people that helped you to close the skill gap that you had. And you always felt like you could go to them there was no no time where you felt afraid that oh, I’m gonna get judged for not knowing this thing. Yeah,
Fabio Embalo 9:41
that’s that’s I think that’s the biggest challenge of any Junior rise almost like you get a job and in the back of your mind, you’re like, Okay, I can’t come across a stupid now I can’t come across us.
I don’t know what I’m talking about. Because you know, I got this job, and they expect me to know it. But not really like I tell all my team, all the juniors I have in my team I told them all The time I’m not sure you ask me a trillion questions, we can be here all day, then you be quiet and then feel pressure to do something that you don’t actually know how to do.
Chima Mmeje 10:08 That’s a very, that’s very good advice. That is very, very, very good advice. All right. So now, you’ve left Google, you’re going to your next role where you headhunted? Did you have to like, search for the role? How did that happen?
Fabio Embalo 10:19 So, so a company A company called Searchmetrics, okay, come knockin. Okay. They honestly, is a company, I will always be thankful to. They, they are a huge SEO platform. I know. Searchmetrics. So at the time, they were very big, like, perhaps the biggest other time that was was 2017.
Very strong German as well. I’ve always liked how efficient they are, you know, processes. Yeah, a lot of processes. And, you know, they came in with the Google Fonts I was saying earlier, you know, like, money that really catapulted me to the next level, you know, I got to a level where I was like, Damn, I’m literally 23 years old.
I think I was at the time. This, this is good money for me. And they allowed me to work with amazing companies. I had clients like British Airways, Barclays, Disney, Adidas, L’Oreal. I had amazing feature two holidays, amazing, amazing clients, Dream clients, basically. Yeah, like dream clients, like people like brands that to this day still carry me even support me in the road I’m doing today, you know, because it’s very easy to speak to prospects and say, Hey,
Chima Mmeje 11:34 I’ve done this for this. I’ve done this result. And because it’s like name dropping with big names, exactly, then it carries weight.
Fabio Embalo 11:40 Absolutely. That’s brilliant. So yeah, I will always be thankful to such metrics because of that. And I was a CSM that, what does that mean? client success manager?
Chima Mmeje 11:48 What did you do as CCSSO? I,
Fabio Embalo 11:52 everyone that was using the Search Metrics platform, okay, I was the person responsible in one, helping them understand how to use the platform and to helping them implement their strategies, through the data that we identified on Search Metrics.
Chima Mmeje 12:06 So that was like making sure that we’re getting results that they were paying for precisely. That’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. How long were your Search Metrics?
Fabio Embalo 12:13 I was a search metrics for two years, I think. Okay, so
Chima Mmeje 12:16 you, you, you, I think you’ve highlighted this company as a place where you really grow like, where you evolved into Fabio, who’s like this great SEO now, what are the specific things that you learned at Searchmetrics that you think will continue with you for like the rest of your career? I love that
Fabio Embalo 12:33
question. Like the thing about Searchmetrics, I think I did really well was not really well, like my boss at the time left. And I became because they kept hiring people, I became the most senior CSM, even though I had only been in the job for about two months. All of a sudden, I find myself with going from 30 clients to 86 clients 86 different accounts, like I was handling, I think it was like 6.5 million pounds of ARR, something like that, like a lot of money and a lot of pressure.
Now, when you see that money on the on the CRM, you’re like, Okay, I can’t miss it. That’s a lot of money. So yes, I was thrown into the deep end, and I just had to swim. You know, it’s just that like, when when you’re in a position where you have a good salary, I had a baby at the time as well and my son by then must have been like two years old or something. Would you have to swim? You know, and the reason why I say that, I appreciate it so much.
And the quality that to answer your question is the fact that my bosses are the time like the director of of CSM, he allowed me to handle things on my own, he easily could have hired someone more experience, he gave me a tsunami. Exactly. He and He gave me the trust as well, you know, because they could have easily gotten hired someone more experience, but they chose to trust me because they saw how I handled the the small client list I had previously.
And then they were like, Okay, if you can do it with these clients, try and do it with these. And if it doesn’t work, then you know, hire someone else. The best thing I’ve done best thing I’ve done
Chima Mmeje 14:17 so that’s so what’s the lesson in the
Fabio Embalo 14:19 the lesson is for me was I had to swim and swimming. And having all that responsibility made me realise that hey, I can do this with with my arm thing.
Chima Mmeje 14:31
Alright, so I’m trying to think of how this would benefit someone who is like starting out in their career. And it sounds like a lot of pressure from you. I’m being honest. Yeah, it sounds like a lot of pressure. It sounds like they gave you an opportunity and you stepped up to it. So how how does that translates to everything else that you’ve done?
They gave you an opportunity. You stepped up to rates and then you went from handling words to something clients to like 80 Something clients would like a lot more Sounds like pressure of pressure, pressure pressure. How will someone even handle that much pressure?
Fabio Embalo 15:05
You know what it is? I think it’s confidence. Like if an answer, I think is is the cause is that right? Like when you were literally just talking about it when you were a junior, there’s a lot of questions in your mind. You may be the most talented individual ever. Yeah. But you, you lacked the confidence.
Because you know this, you look at someone that’s been working for longer than you and you’re like, Ah, they’re definitely better than me type thing. But then you realise that, hey, with a little bit of confidence, I know I’m good at what I’m doing. Yeah. And hey, I’ve got the CEO of jet to holidays, congratulating me on something I told them to do. Competence. Lada is the answer confidence.
Chima Mmeje 15:45 So basically, that means that when you when you get a job, and then there will be that period where your time to shine comes. And then if you step up, and you do the job. And then you how will I say, prove the faith that was placed in you. It builds your confidence, and that is going to carry over to everything that you do, because you’re going to keep believing that it doesn’t matter what they throw at me. I can handle this. I can handle this stuff. So
Fabio Embalo 16:09 just said something. Yes. You just said something that reminded me of like a religious Christian saying, God will never give you something that you cannot handle. Yes,
Chima Mmeje 16:20
yes. Yes. Yes. That’s a good one. All right. So that was that was a lot to unpack for Searchmetrics. So when did you know it was time to leave? Searchmetrics? That’s always the next question.
When do you know it’s time to leave this role? And go to the national question, like you had a fabulous time here, you grew monumentally. So when did you know that this great rule, it’s time for me to come out and step into the next thing.
Fabio Embalo 16:43 You ask me a question before I answer it. How does someone handle so much pressure? Yeah,
Chima Mmeje 16:49 I crushed. See, I liked the honesty. I love that honesty,
Fabio Embalo 16:53
I got to a point I was doing it for the 80 Something clients, I must have done it for like 14 months. And by by the end of April, I couldn’t like you know, as I was saying, I had a baby at home. I was travelling so much. Because as a CSM, you have to go visit clients, and I had clients in the Nordics. I had clients in the Middle East, I had clients in South America like travelling, so I’m just travelling to all these clients, maybe spending two days in London, see my baby who’s growing up.
And until I kept telling them, Hey, like I actually need help here. And they didn’t hire anyone for a while. And by the time they hired someone I had had already handed in my notice. Wow. So it was it came too late. For a good period, I regretted it. Because, again, it was perhaps the second best period of my life. And yeah, like I left and and the only reason was because I crashed. I couldn’t handle all the travelling and clients
Chima Mmeje 17:58
I think I think that’s that’s the brave thing to admit. Because knowing when to step back and say this is too much for me, I need to regroup and then come back again. That’s something a lot of people don’t have the courage to do. Because we feel like we need to keep going until we die. Literally, we need to keep going until we die.
But when you get to this place, there was something someone told me recently that you’re not supposed to be here all the time is not sustainable. You cannot be here, you need to come here, come here, come here like ebbs and flow. If you’re here all the time, how do you sustain this level of energy is not realistic. So if you get here and you’re here for too long, you start to feel that pressure, then it’s knowing when to say I need to step back, so that I can come back stronger.
And I think as black people, this is something we struggle with that survivor mentality prevents us from taking that step back. Because we feel like if we let go of opportunity, nothing better is going to come. And he’s something that we keep talking about in the community, leaving space for something greater to come into your life. And I love that we’re touching on this right now. Fabio, what did you do next after Searchmetrics?
Fabio Embalo 19:07 So I must have left Searchmetrics in November 2019. Yeah. I then took the Christmas period of type thing December, you know, okay. And then in January, I got a new job at a company called sprinkler and sprinkler like the the Cambridge analytical of the US, like a lot of data, but I stepped away from SEO. Like that’s how intense he got. Yeah, that was like SEO that yeah, that’s not for me anymore. Okay. No
Chima Mmeje 19:36 stepping into data now. So I went into social media data. Wow. You know, I never knew what researching social media before. That’s interesting.
Fabio Embalo 19:43 We’ll get the you will know why. Why you didn’t know. Okay. So yeah, I started that job in January. And I was only there until May. Because in May the tragic murder of George Floyd happened. Yeah. And that’s when I decided to To launch viaduct.
Chima Mmeje 20:01 Okay, so let’s talk about sprinkler. What do you do at sprinkler
Fabio Embalo 20:05 sprinkler? I was I was essentially a consultant. Okay, so I was a business consultant, he was very much like, who is the data telling us? He was very? Look, everyone, be careful with your social media, you know, because there’s platforms out there,
Chima Mmeje 20:19 please, please initiate like, explain. Explain, please. Yeah. So
Fabio Embalo 20:22 sprinkler is a platform that allows companies to dictate what ads you as a user, like, see? Right? So their biggest partner is Twitter. And what they do is like, you, you may not realise it, you or you may, you may do that. You have circles in your Twitter, like, there’s only you may have, you may follow 9000 people,
Chima Mmeje 20:48 but the only specific tweet, you keep saying the circle? Yes.
Fabio Embalo 20:52 Exactly. And they do that on purpose, because those people are normally people that you either engage the most with, or you share a similar sort of taking the way you tweet, etcetera. And that happens on purpose. It’s not by just wondering about that. Yeah, so that happens on purpose.
And then companies use that for their own benefit, too. So the way they advertise is that you may see a specific advert from other know, Louis Vuitton. Okay, and I may see another type of advert from Louis Vuitton that would suit more
Chima Mmeje 21:23
to you, to me. So that’s like some some crazy level of personalization. Very scary. Very scary, because you need a lot of data about the person to tell to tailor ads to that. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that was what sprinkler was doing. Yeah.
Fabio Embalo 21:37
So spring is just like Cambridge analytic everyone may remember the Yeah, remember the big scandal, big scandal with Facebook and the elections is literally the same kind of the American version, which company now? Like, I think they their value was like six or 7 billion when I was working there.
So very big company. And yeah, like, I mean, it was very insightful because you know, I love data, but it was scary. There’s no doubt about that. Like SEO is not scary, you know? But Tao that’s because we
Chima Mmeje 22:07 see so much about ourselves on social media on everything you can tell everything about a person’s life by looking at their social media.
Fabio Embalo 22:14 Everything Everything Wow, so yeah, I was sprinkler. Alright, so
Chima Mmeje 22:17 what was the big takeaway for you from sprinkler while you work? There was a big thing you learned run away
Fabio Embalo 22:21 from social media did certainly make everything private after that I was private on social media for a while but then on Twitter my head of marketing mainly be public.
Chima Mmeje 22:31 Yeah, just use just I guess like recently more activists. Yeah, that’s before you. You didn’t really use the post.
Fabio Embalo 22:39 Like, honestly, after trust me, sprinkler really did scare me scared of social media. But the big takeaway from sprinkler was Don’t do something for the money because I’m legit. Legit wants sprinkler only for the money.
Chima Mmeje 22:56 Okay, hold on now, because yesterday we had, we had Andy talking about moving rows, but making sure it’s not for the morning, boy, you’re learning in the early days. And then we had wills who comes in here, say, do it for the morning, and for what you’re learning but prioritise money.
And now we have five of you. It’s almost like every single one of them is pathetic. We have five years saying, don’t go to a role for the money.
Fabio Embalo 23:25 I can’t agree with what wills will told you though, because for me, if you want to do something for the money, do it for the money as long as you’re passionate about what you’re about to do.
Chima Mmeje 23:35 I don’t understand if you want to do something for the money, do it for the money because you’re passionate about what the job.
Fabio Embalo 23:42 So for example, me Well, earlier, I told you I only moved to Searchmetrics because of the money. Yeah, right. Yeah. But I was already passionate about digital marketing. Okay, so the move made sense, okay, in this sense,
Chima Mmeje 23:53 so money wasn’t like the entire goal. It was something I really enjoyed doing. Exactly.
Fabio Embalo 23:57 They offered me more money. So I was like, Yeah, let’s go okay. In this case, I want him to social media data analysis. And he was something that truly didn’t end up enjoying. So however the move made sense to me because they may they paid me a lot more money that was getting paid before
Chima Mmeje 24:13 spec sprinkler
Fabio Embalo 24:16
sprinkler, they pay me more money than they paid me or Searchmetrics Okay, so obviously the move at the time felt right, like you know, hey, I left these guys I handed in my notice and now I’m getting paid an extra x money you know, it was it felt amazing, but then within a month of being that was like, What have I done?
You know, but again, then all of a sudden you find yourself in this position of you have to you have to fight because you have responsibilities at home. Yeah, you have a kid you have life. Exactly. And you know, you can’t just once again step away, you know, so yeah, but then obviously lockdown happened. Lockdown happened in March. And by May as I was saying earlier, the whole thing and towards for it to happen.
Chima Mmeje 24:58
And then after that Okay, walk me through your because I know everybody, everyone who’s black processed judge flows that differently. It was like a melting point was like that, that trigger where you’ve where you’ve experienced this and then there’s that one incident that like switches and switches something off in your brain and like no this is it. How did that make you feel to the extent that you were like I need to branch out and do my own thing? I want to understand that correlation. It’s
Fabio Embalo 25:25
a fantastic question. Look at us as black people, we’ve we’ve been seeing crazy stuff by the hands of the police all across the world for years, George Floyd was on the first time. Yes, yeah. However, I think, because we had been at home on lockdown for so long, spending so much time on social media, emotions running high, because you’re not really socialising too much with too many people. And then seeing a grown man crying and pleading for his life and ask and shouting, for his mom that was already dead. Like, it was striking. It was different. It was like we all see it.
We see reports of someone dying, someone being killed by the police. But not a lot of times you have videos, watching the death who live in front, you know, like from the moment that he’s alive and walking normal to the moment that he’s on the floor. God, you know, and as I was saying, I think it’s the emotion how high everyone’s emotions were with lockdown and not being able to go out and etcetera.
And as I was saying, because we’re all at home. Normally, when something happens when something tragic happens, we see it on social media. But the next day you’re going to work you go to work you socialise with your friends. And it’s almost like it slowly goes to the back of your mind. But with the George Floyd situation, because we were all at home,
Chima Mmeje 26:49 can we had no option but to process it’s
Fabio Embalo 26:53 constantly CNN on social media, or the protests or different angles of the of the death? It was, it was something that I think millions of people felt like, you know, I need to do something, you know, and it was an amazing moment. I think it was an amazing, he is almost like a martyr moment, right? Like someone died. But then millions of people tried to find a way to really help
Chima Mmeje 27:20 because that was where the Black Lives Matters, movement, hashtag everything, just like kicked off from there. Alright, so now you start in bad dogs in the middle of a pandemic.
That is probably the most fearless thing I’ve had in my life. Starting a new agency, right smack dab in the middle of a pandemic, when when companies are causing jobs to save money, he started an agency I’m speechless, to be honest. All right, you start your agency. How many people did you start with?
Fabio Embalo 27:57
So at the start, it was me and two of my business partners and now they’re no longer partners. Okay. It was two of my best friends. What happened was my friend Quincy, who’s an amazing DJ, check him out MasterChef amazing if you look at my piano, anyway, he called me when the whole thing was happening with George Floyd.
He called me and he’s a very cheerful person. But that day he was serious on the phone. He was I could hear the anger through the phone, because I Fabiola, like we need to do something like we need to find a way. The initial point was we need to find a way to keep money in the pockets of black people in the hands of black people.
Yes. So that whenever situations like this happen, we have power amongst us to go and fight properly. Yeah, you know, right, rather than or you see we also have countless of charities propping up yes, no one really knows where the money’s going. Yes. And you then look
Chima Mmeje 28:53 at patient on the large scale, most of them including
Fabio Embalo 28:55 black live. Exactly. And then you saw the families not getting a penny. So then all of a sudden, yeah, that’s why he called me he was like, Yeah, we need to create something where people can put money into. And then amongst us as a community. It’s almost like creating a micro black economy in the UK. And I found that fascinating. But all of a sudden, I was like I was like, how do we do that?
And then between all three of us. I was like, Look guys, like because one is very artistic. Like he’s an incredible artist. The other one is a DJ. And then I was like, Look, guys, really, what we need to try and do is put money in the pockets of entrepreneurs, black entrepreneurs, you put money in the pockets of black businesses, they create jobs for more black people than more black people have more money in their pockets, then all of a sudden we are all higher in position in society.
Now all of a sudden we can start influencing decisions and actions etc. Sounds like the only thing I’m good at is SEO. So as I brought forward the idea of SEO, why don’t we create an SEO agency that supports black owned businesses. And that was the whole birth of it. And I’ve said this countless of times in the past, at the time, what drove me was in business. It wasn’t I didn’t go into this for money, exactly. For money, which the best businesses in business
Chima Mmeje 30:32 was driven by money by profit, or not, but not this year,
Fabio Embalo 30:35
and a lot of them will advise you to not do something out of emotion. However, V G is an emotion born business. That was the only thing driving us like working 13 hours a day, no money, no, no clients at the time creating the business plan, looking at every detail of how we wanted the organisation to look like, and thankfully, very much looks like that today. Like, yeah, it’s, it was emotion, it was anger.
Chima Mmeje 31:01 I understand. I definitely understand that. So now you have Vijay, tell us about the story of your first clients. That’s always the one that people remember the first client,
Fabio Embalo 31:11
I will never forget him. So as I told you, everything was born out of emotion until you get to a point where you’re like, Damn, I’ve got bills to pay, bro. And we don’t have a client right now. You know, and, and we, we had partner up with, with Search Metrics as our main SEO platform provider.
And we had to pay for search matching Search Metrics. They gave us a ridiculous discount the biggest discount they’ve ever given 21, because they understood that this is a mission. Exactly. And at the time, you may remember, we all remember, a lot of companies were trying to do performative stuff. But these guys didn’t do performative stuff. They actually came with, hey, here you go, like the biggest discount we’ve ever given 60% of the platform, a big platform that only enterprise companies, yes.
Chima Mmeje 31:56 Because there’s anyone that can afford it exactly.
Fabio Embalo 31:59
Big platform go out and help those that you feel like deserve need help. So yes, we had the bills, you know, every quarter at a time, we only paid 500 pounds a quarter. But you know, we had invested a lot in the business in like, you know, creating in and the technology for et cetera. And then it gets to the seventh of January 2020, we won. And we officially launched, officially start trading.
And then all of a sudden, we’re like, okay, in March, we have to pay another bill of 500 pounds, our savings are pretty much gone by this point. You know, interesting, like, what do we do now? And then I’m one of my partners by then had already left. Because he was like, I can’t do startup life, I actually can’t afford it also.
Okay. So I went after the best salesman, I know that he’s my business partner today. And he was trained at IBM and softcat. So very tough sales, sales training. And I looked at him, he looked at me, he was like, if we don’t find a client, in two months, we were done. Like this dream is over.
And we went out we’re now cold, cold, cold people, cold emails, using platforms like Upwork and bark, etc. and found a client that didn’t really didn’t fit the mission. It was haich d v training. So he is like the logistics of vans and stuff. And we call them he was this guy called Shan Shan, proper Giza cockney accent, you know? And I was like, Yeah, I mean, you’re not the person I set out to,
Chima Mmeje 33:41 to help you to help. By my mind. I was like, you have views. That’s fine.
Fabio Embalo 33:47 I have bills, and I have a dream to help these people. And if I don’t take you right now, my dream is just a dream. And he will go back to find a job and hey, performative acts here. So yeah, we took him in 1000 1300 pound a month contract.
But all of a sudden, all of a sudden, we could already pay for Searchmetrics because that was 500 pounds of water. So I was like, Hey, we are operating at a profit here. And yeah, that’s that was the first client and from there on the moment, we got one last just follows in there just followed. It was amazing. Honestly.
Chima Mmeje 34:28 I think it’s so important for people see here that struggle, because we glorify success, and I I know I’m I feel like I’m part of the problem because I’ve glorified the good parts of, of freelancing, of the success of freelancing, but I think something that people don’t realise is that it can be really hard in the beginning for oh my god, it can be so hard, so hard finding that first clients, and then you have those periods where the gigs are not steady, and then you start to wonder,
Oh my God, are we going out of business? So how do you decompress from all of the pressure of running an agency because agency, like we all know, is high pressure, everything is moving at a very fast pace. There’s just so little margin for error. How do you decompress from all of that?
Fabio Embalo 35:15
Honestly, Chima, like right now, even to right now, this very moment. I love the impact our business is having in society. Like, for example, like, on our events, our birth anniversary event in July, the money that we raised because of the money that we raised, we were able to put for women in Africa in education for four years. So for me, like, honestly, everyone tells me this, ah, running a business is so stressful.
Maybe I’ll change it asked me again in a year’s time. But right now I can tell you, I’ve never really stressed when it comes to the business. Yes, clients stress me out. Of course, managing staff stresses me out. But when it comes to the actual work, in my mind, I’m always like, Yo, I’m only doing this because I have the potential of changing someone’s life. And I don’t care that is one person or is 50 people by the end of it, I actually don’t.
So it really what drives me is the fact that no matter what, this client is going to pay me because I’m doing work for him. And your money, whether you like me or not, is gonna go to either helping women in Africa education, help those in the LGBTQ LGBTQ community in Africa, struggling with AIDS, because one of our biggest partners is frontline frontline aides that help those in that community in the continent, and always going to help combat slavery, that is still happening to this very day, through one of our other partners, anti slavery International, the oldest charity in the world. And all 5% of our profits go to those charities every month.
Chima Mmeje 36:56
That’s brilliant. It’s not just performative, saying this is what wants to do. No. putting the money in the hands of organisations that are making the change. So important. So so important. So your agencies is like one year plus insane growth. It’s so amazing visibility on social media.
You have a team of what 15 Now 15. Now, yes, that’s growth. That’s good. What is something that you always look for when you’re hiring for an agency? Like one character trait that has nothing to do with SEO, but you think can lead to great success in clients relationships high
Fabio Embalo 37:33 a higher souls? A higher souls,
Chima Mmeje 37:36 he’s a soul collector.
Fabio Embalo 37:39
You can call me that. Good hearts like honestly, it’s always the feeling happy. What does that even mean? I hire people, like whenever I have a good connection with the moment I speak to them. And the moment I speak to them, one of the very first questions I ask is, oh, what do you understand by viaduct generation? What do you think we do? Yes. And I can instantly tell whether Are you trying to impress me with your SEO knowledge? Or are you trying to impress me with how much you believe in the mission.
And that is the moment, that’s what I’m telling you is the soul is like, the mission, the moment you speak about our mission, if you’re faking it, I’m gonna be able to tell like all of us, if you speak to a white person that is talking to you about the importance of black lives, and all of that, you will know whether they actually mean in believing you, or whether they just say no to sound goods, you know, so that’s exactly it. So, in my mind, I told you earlier, man is over 80 accounts as a yes, much.
Yes. So in my mind, right now, I can easily hire inexperienced people that have the talent or the potential to become amazing NCOs and then train them and then train them. But first and foremost, I need them to understand the mission. If they’re
Chima Mmeje 38:51 going to support the walk exactly. You and SEO, exactly.
Fabio Embalo 38:54 If they understand the mission, everything else will just come training on SEO Come on. We’ve all done it. You can learn it, it’s fine. So yeah,
Chima Mmeje 39:03
alright, so now the biggest question, positioning, what you do is so niche, because you’re trying to help black owned companies? How do you position by adopts Gen, to attract those kind of people?
Because that’s something that is so important that is going to lead to the success. If you don’t position right there, you’ll end up attracting all the wrong kinds of companies. Again, how do you position
Fabio Embalo 39:27
magnet? Magnificent question. So the first and always mission is black owned businesses. However, we now support underrepresented founders as a whole. So those in the LGBTQ community, female founders, any ethnic minority group, as well as at the forefront, black owned businesses, first and foremost.
Now, there’s a big problem within the community. And as a matter of fact, my talk was about that today. You missed it. Yes. Okay, there’s a The problem in the community is, there’s a lack of education on the topic of SEL, there’s a lack of funding on black owned businesses. As a matter of fact, only 46% of black owned businesses get approved by a bank loan in the UK.
Chima Mmeje 40:16 That’s That’s mad in comparison, only 46% of black owned businesses get approved for loans.
Fabio Embalo 40:21 In comparison, 75.3% of white owned businesses get approved. So it’s a big difference. This, these stats alone shows to you that the majority of black owned businesses in the UK have to bootstrap their businesses,
Chima Mmeje 40:35 which is hard, usually leads to failure to be honest,
Fabio Embalo 40:40 because they can’t really invest in a practice like SEO, because we all know how expensive it is. Yes, yes, we make it more accessible. But at the same time,
Chima Mmeje 40:47 you need money to do SEO, and it takes time. That’s time is what a bootstrap company does not have
Fabio Embalo 40:53 that you’ve said it oh, how do you invest 8000 pounds, let’s just say it might be in No, let’s just say 8000 pounds in a quarter for SEO, just a random number 6000 in a course in SEO, in three months, you know seeing results? Yes. Or ROI?
Chima Mmeje 41:13 Yes. And I will see like you and I will see you in six months.
Fabio Embalo 41:17
Exactly. So how can a bootstrapped business think out 1000 pounds and expect money back impossible. So what we do instead is not only do we collaborate with charities to help the individuals, but then we do free webinars every month free workshops every month, we partner up with companies like Jeremy and what CUDA who are black owned marketplaces, so they have hundreds of black owned businesses within their marketplaces.
And all those people attend our talks, our events. And they, they get to understand what SEO is like, so that they can slowly start incorporating things into their websites. We’ve seen great things great success already, of companies that have come to our work service to our events to our training sessions.
They’ve incorporated through their developers they have they’ve incorporated some of our tips. And you can see the progression that they’ve had to the point that we now have two of the clients that we have, have come through that process of we learn this in one of your events, where now you can afford it now. Yes, you know, so he’s, I’ve always had a five, have you? High five for five year game plan? In my mind? I was very realistic. At the beginning. I was like, There’s no way I will only have black on clients from the very first Yes, I have to survive to be able to fulfil.
Yes. So my five year game plan has always been 20%, black owned businesses at the start? And 80% Whatever. Yes, yeah. And in five years, hopefully, I’m able to switch that. And the way I want to switch that is when I get to a point where the business is self sufficient with the clients that we’ve got. And per five clients that we have, that we have, I want to get one black Home Business Pro Bono, where they don’t have to pay me for anything.
Chima Mmeje 43:14 You wanted to ask you a pro bono Yes, in five years,
Fabio Embalo 43:18 in the next three years now. And I will do it. I will do it I already have I have a blog on business, for example. I’m not gonna say names or anything, but they pay us 500 pounds a month. Nothing,
Chima Mmeje 43:33 we are just literally not even do anything that doesn’t even get you content
Fabio Embalo 43:38 with me. It gets your content, it gets you tech and it gets your digital PR
Chima Mmeje 43:43 because you supporting them.
Fabio Embalo 43:45 And the intention is in my whole team believes in that they they all want to work hard to see change in. So in five years, my intention is self sufficient business with a significant amount of annual recurring revenue, good salaries across my whole team. And per every five clients that are paying one
Chima Mmeje 44:07
is a pro bono black business. Yes, that is that is actually how you put money in the hands of black businesses will then harness find the ones who can’t afford to pay for SEO and marketing will have a business as promising. Yes. And then help them get to where they need to be. Yes, that is that is brilliant, fabulous.
You literally live in the mission, but not about in a different way. Not as in nonprofits. But as a as a profits business, which is not something that we really talk about for profit businesses that are mission based. They’re actually living a fulfilling a mission.
Yeah. That’s brilliant. Fabulous. All right, so last question. If you want to give an advice to our community members who are getting into SEO and marketing roles, what are one soft skills you think they should learn? And one tip for interviewing that’s not a skill to learn and tip for interviewing,
Fabio Embalo 44:56 look skills, I will always go with something that you’re actually interested about. So, soft skills soft skills.
Chima Mmeje 45:02 Yes. How do you mean? Like, you know how you interview for an SEO role? Well, non SEO skills that you need.
Fabio Embalo 45:10
Okay? Look, someone Alexa once told me something unique. They told me when you go into an interview, you have to tell them why they they need to hire you know, don’t go into the interview with please hire me. You need to go into the interview with this. This is how good I am. You actually need me in your company. I don’t need you as much as you switch.
Chima Mmeje 45:35 Yeah, flip the fuck is sweet? Yes.
Fabio Embalo 45:38
Yes, absolutely. And I’ve done that my whole career. My whole career. Whenever I was interviewing, I always went into into the interview like, I don’t know, like, they always tell you, we’re interviewing more candidates, I always go into the interview with I am the best in the pile that you’ve got.
And this is the reason why always justify it. Be confident in yourself. No doubt, confidence, but realistic as well. Don’t go there just lying about how good you are or whatever. Go there with what you know you’re good at and sell yourself. Life is all about selling bro.
Chima Mmeje 46:15
So the soft skill is confidence. Confidence is the soft skill you need to have because that is what you’re going to need. If you’re going to be telling your interviewer. I’m the best person and then why do I need to work for you give me a reason to come in here. Not me giving you a reason to hire me. So confidence.
And I think this is something oh my god, this is something that we struggle with as black people mine. Yeah, we struggle with this black people, brown skinned people. We struggle with confidence. And then it shows where we are in front of people that are going to make decisions that will affect the rest of our lives.
And that’s something I keep thinking how do we change that? How do we go from from people that are begging for people to accept us to people who are saying Although I don’t need you to accept me, you need me to come in here and make the change because I’m the best. That is that is a question. I think we need to keep exploring. How do we get there mindsets? Fabio, thank you so much. This has been an amazing interview. Thank you so much. If you want to check out Fabio heart, they find you on Twitter.
Fabio Embalo 47:17 So Twitter is Fabio at Fabio V G seven. And then just follow via that Jen on Twitter. We’re there. We’re on Instagram as well on LinkedIn viaduct generation. Just follow us.
Chima Mmeje 47:28 All right, thank you so much. Bye bye
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