We had the good fortune of connecting with Dax Hamman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dax, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Small business owners face a real problem. They need basic marketing to work for them or their businesses, and therefore their goals, might fail. Yet they frequently get overcharged by agencies and let down by contractors. We created FIRESIDE to solve that exact problem, and ensure they have access to reliable, affordable marketing.
I used to work in big ad agencies on mega brands like Coca-Cola, Hilton, and Virgin Atlantic. For a while that feels very exciting, but over time you realize you’re not doing good. Waking up in the morning to help a soda manufacturer push sugar as a breakfast item to kids is NOT rewarding! But waking up and helping business owners achieve their goals very much is.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I don’t quite buy the expression about how if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life, BUT I do believe that if you are passionate about what you do, the hard times will be easier to overcome.
With FIRESIDE we took a problem that no-one had successfully solved for before, and made it happen. Finding ways to deliver quality at a low price is very hard in the marketing world, and we certainly had failures along the way. Our belief in business owners, and the impact our unique set of experiences could have, helped us keep going.
You have to take the ego out of it too. There were decisions we made early on that turned out to simply be wrong! At times we had the wrong processes, the wrong client types, the wrong types of team members,… and if ego gets in the way, you don’t allow yourself to see that and make the required changes.
That gets easier as you go along. I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years and really only feel I have something to prove to myself, my team and my colleagues. You learn that it’s far better to acknowledge the problem and work to fix it, than to stubbornly keep going believing you had everything right from the start.
An old VC investor once said in a board meeting, the only thing you know for certain about a startup’s business plan is that it’s wrong.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am originally from England, and over the last 12 years have been lucky enough to live in SF, Chicago, NY, and a few other places. I have found Colorado to be a great home, and Denver gives me everything I need… including direct flights to London! I travel a lot, and so I am often drawn to places that make me feel back at home.
Annette in Stanley Marketplace is a place like that. I have been known to meet my wife there with suitcase still in hand having got off a 9 hour flight. I also love Hillstone in Cherry Creek, and we know it so well now that we have our favorite table number we always ask for.
For people watching, Union Station is fun. I can work from anywhere so sometimes I will go there for the day with my laptop and just be a part of what’s going on with Denver.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I very much believe in the concept of smart luck, the idea that any of us who enjoy success did so in part because we had a number of lucky events happen along the way. The difference though between luck and smart luck is that smart luck is when you were at least smart enough to recognize it was happening, and then work hard to capitalize on it.
Aside from my parents teaching me a strong work ethic, and giving me access to a good education, a core piece of smart luck was the timing of the internet happening early in career. It allowed me to grow up in marketing and business at a time when people really needed help with this new thing, and being there early, I was able to be that person.
Every person that ever gave me a job, paid me to consult for them, or invested in my ventures, ultimately deserves a shoutout, but my wife and business partner, Sarah, has not only been a great supporter, but has also kept me in check. Whereas I understand people and their needs, and can develop solutions that will be of great help them, Sarah is an operational expert that makes those things actually work.