Leading Jersey digital agency Webreality today celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding.
Webreality was established on 20th January 2000 by Phil Balderson, who led the business until May 2008. In its first two decades it has grown into a landmark brand in the Jersey digital industry, synonymous in its target markets with capability, professionalism and exceptional client service.From its origins purely in website development, the company has expanded its services to encompass a full range of digital creative and technical services, including digital marketing management, custom software development, and digital design including brand development.
Webreality’s focus during its first decade was primarily on the local market, with many clients coming from Jersey’s dominant industries – especially finance and hospitality. Innovative use of website management software drove rapid business growth.
Export market growth
During its second decade, under new local ownership and management, the company’s good reputation spread into the UK market, resulting in many opportunities to take on exciting and challenging client work in London and other regions.
Today, Webreality is a significant Jersey exporter of top quality digital services to clients in the UK and further afield.
A third of Webreality’s clients are now outside Jersey, accounting for some 53% of its 2019 total revenues.
In particular, since 2010 it has developed a position as a leader in the private equity industry for website production and support, with clients including Apax Partners, Permira, Nordic Capital, Actis, CVC Capital Partners and Triton Partners. In this industry, Webreality’s Jersey origins have been beneficial because its team has a strong understanding of the funds sector from experience working in and servicing the local financial services industry.
Another industry in which Webreality has earned a dominant position is the UK auction house sector, where the company offers dedicated website technology, specialised digital marketing services, and a support service tailored to the particular needs of the clients. From a single auction house client in 2007, Webreality has built a portfolio of 22 today, with more in the pipeline.
The company has worked hard to keep its core team in Jersey, rather than grow in the UK, despite the challenges of finding relevant skills and experience in the Jersey employment market. Today, Webreality employs 25 people, 21 of whom live in Jersey, the other four in the UK. All of the company’s current Jersey employees have “Entitled” or “Entitled to work” residential status, and many joined the company as trainees, benefitting from in-work mentoring and learning to become the fully-fledged professionals they are today.
Length of service
Length of service to clients has been a particular hallmark of Webreality’s history. The company is proud that many Jersey businesses have been clients for well over a decade, including Jersey Electricity, Les Ormes, Rossborough Insurance, Dunell’s, Bedell Cristin and Seymour Hotels, who celebrate their own special anniversary this year.
Since its earliest days, Webreality has sought opportunities to provide its professional services free of charge or heavily subsidised to charities in Jersey and elsewhere. Its list of non-profit clients since 2000 includes 31 charities, large and small, including Jersey Hospice Care, The Bosdet Foundation, RNLI Jersey, the Jersey Christmas Appeal, Wetwheels Jersey, Jersey Employment Trust, and Jersey Cancer Relief.
Matthew Robins, Webreality’s Chief Executive, commented: “When Webreality was founded, the world wide web was only a few years old, and most businesses hadn’t yet adopted it in any way. The past two decades have seen business models and marketing strategies turned upside down as the world has gone online, and we are enormously proud of the part we’ve played in helping our clients navigate and make the most of the opportunities in the digital realm.
“Our philosophy has always been to build long-lasting client relationships, founded on a happy, stable team of excellent people. That ability to retain clients and team members over the very long term really marks Webreality out as unusual in the world of creative agencies. I am especially proud of the team – their dedication to excellence, service and learning, and the comments I hear from our clients about the quality of the work we do for them.
“For the future, we remain focused on retaining our existing valued clients by continuously improving the return they get on their investment in our services. Our motto is ‘Ever better.’ Our first two decades have embodied that outlook, and it will continue to guide us into the future.”