Dane Abramowitz is the founder of HOTSEAT digital agency (soon to be amalgamated into Liquid Thought), having previously worked at Red Bull for six years, ASICS for three years, and most recently as marketing manager at EGG — the brainchild of YDE founder Paul Simon and Arie Fabian, ex Fabiani.
The CJC caught up with him to find out more about his career trajectory thus far.
Why did you choose this career?
To be honest, I’ve never known what I wanted to do or be. All I knew is that I wouldn’t survive the normal nine-to-five office life, so Red Bull and ASICS were a great balance of work and play. I quickly realised though that I’d never reach my bigger dreams working for someone else, so I needed to start my own thing. I have my father to thank for the entrepreneurial drive in me.
I started a web design company when I was still at school and everyone wanted a website at that time. I was an 18-year-old kid having studied coding and subsequently started making semi-decent websites for small clients. At that age, it felt like I was printing money. I couldn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t doing it too.
That was my stepping stone into the world of marketing. Jump ahead five years and I’m at one of the biggest brands in the world, flying around the globe, a first job any person of my age at the time would dream of. I got comfortable though, and chose to leave to become digital manager at ASICS, an underdog in the sneaker scene. It excited me to know that I could make my mark and build something from the ground up. A few years in, in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic, the opportunity came about to work with a couple of big-thinking entrepreneurs, and I couldn’t say no to a startup in the retail sector. It was a wild ride to say the least, but I learnt everything I needed there, to move forward with my own agency.
Briefly explain what it is that you do
My agency has evolved quite significantly over the years through new employees, new ideas and the ever-changing landscape, but essentially what is soon to be the ecommerce wing of Liquid Thought, provides true end-to-end ecommerce management, from digital strategy, website development, paid media strategy and management, content creation and logistics. There’s a lot to unpack in each of those, but you get the jist of it.
Partnering with Liquid Thought has put us in the space of digital transformation. In a nutshell, there are a substantial number of brands and businesses that are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing online economy. Our focus is to help get them up to speed through new uses of technology, simplified automated processes and smart marketing strategies to break through the clutter.
What do you love about it?
We’re in such an interesting time, in South Africa and the world, to be in this space. The way we communicate with brands and people, and the way we engage with content and the way we are changing so quickly… I love watching all of it evolve and being a part of finding solutions to improve our lives.
There are so many clever people out there. Being in the marketing space I try to engage with as many of those people as possible and discover where their minds are taking them, which usually sparks a new idea or two. It’s no secret that South Africa has some major opportunities in the technology and development space and the right people to build the platforms and tools. I love being a part of that.
What don’t you love about it?
I don’t think there are things I can say I don’t like in this area. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t enjoy it. I have a huge belief in doing what you love, otherwise you’re just working to live. I am in a very fortunate position which allows me to work on projects that I enjoy, and have a life outside of work. I think too many marketing jobs destroy your ability to do anything else. In most marketing positions, you have to wear too many hats, so that the work becomes your life. Burn-out is real in this industry and it’s not worth it.
What advice can you offer to anyone who wants to pursue a similar career?
This really depends. Marketing within a brand can be super-fun; for me the prerequisite was finding a marketing job at a brand that wasn’t too corporate. If you’re in the same boat, look for brands that are doing really exciting, progressive stuff.
In terms of starting an agency, it’s all about connections. We have no website (until now), we have no credentials, nothing. Every single client, brand and business we have has come from word of mouth.
Do good work, build strong relationships and you will reap the rewards. I learnt this from a creative agency I hold in high regard, ICONIC. I worked with them at Red Bull, took them with me to ASICS and started a relationship with them at EGG before I left, simply because of the people, the way they treat me as a client and of course, the incredible quality of their work. That shows you the importance of nurturing relationships in this industry.
What are your plans for the future?
My focus on the immediate future is growing Liquid Commerce, the newly-formed wing of Liquid Thought. There aren’t many players of true end-to-end ecommerce in South Africa beside the obvious big few, but our goal is to be a one-stop-shop.
My brand marketing background, the many many years of web development from Liquid Thought, and the logistics expertise of my business partner means a real 360-degree ecommerce roll-out.
Other than that, we are working on an exciting app, but that’s all I’m saying about that for now.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Relationships and connections are key. Just the other day I went for coffee with an old Herzlia Constantia primary school friend who I don’t see too often. He’s a super-smart guy in the development space and I threw some ideas around with him. He’s now got me thinking about some ways in which we can work together going forward.
I’ve been in touch with school friends doing extremely innovative things in diverse areas. Check out Aerobotics founded by Benji Meltzer or Elevate founded by Matan Abraham. We’ve got some of the smartest individuals, right in this community.
Dane Abramowitz was born in Durban and moved to Cape Town before the age of one. He attended Herzlia for all of his schooling, starting at Constantia Primary. After school he specialised in multimedia at Vega School, and followed that with a post-grad in Entrepreneurship at UCT.
As an inclusive community forum, The Cape Jewish Chronicle will be focusing on stories of individuals within the community, with exciting 21st century careers. If you have an interesting story to share with the community, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Published in the PDF edition of the July 2021 issue.
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