A Conversation with Jamaican Digital Media Maven, Alex Morrissey

Alex Morrissey

Alex Morrissey is a Digital Media maven who at just 30-something, is at the helm of Jamaica’s ongoing digital and tech revival. He is currently the Managing Director of ESIROM Limited, a full-service Digital Media Agency managing and creating levels of content for some of the largest brands within the Caribbean.  His journey began in 2008 when he founded and launched JamaicansMusic, one of the very first digital media mega hubs for all things Reggae and Dancehall related – spanning music, videos, interviews, tracklists, and news (ranking top 25 of all webpages on Facebook at the time). This mega hub is not only aimed at documenting the dynamic and ever-shifting persona of Jamaica’s rich musical landscape but acted as the stepping stone for Morrissey to impart his skills and experience to companies open to growing their online presence. 

Esirom was founded in 2015. The company currently boasts a wide client list both locally and regionally, of which the majority are some of the largest brands across the Caribbean: Seprod, Supligen, Serge, Betty, Victoria Mutual, Guinness, Smirnoff, Grab n Go, among others. At it’s core, Esirom is a full-service digital marketing company with a focus on media creation and management.  The company was born out of a need to provide solutions for corporate entities under a corporate identity. Jamaicansmusic (in 2008)  was the catalyst that eventually led to Esirom being formed (2015) and the website then became a brand under the Esirom umbrella. Music is still a big part of the company and never forgotten as without the success of the Jamaicansmusic website none of this today would be possible.

Here is my conversation with Alex Morrissey:

Q: Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both?
A: I would say both, when I got started there was no other website like and when I started Esirom, nothing even remotely close existed, we did some amazing things that have now become an industry standard for digital agencies. Never would I have imagined that Facebook, a social media platform would be the vehicle to starting and running a successful business. Up to this day I still laugh at myself at how crazy that is and also a little fear sets in because a large percentage of work is done via these platforms and I think…what happens if they poof and disappear the next day, we will pivot and adjust of course but it’s a daunting thought. We also focus a lot on digital marketing and website development & sustainment, so when you take all of that plus social and really know how to tap into audiences, then you become a powerful resource that businesses will pay for the expertise you provide.

Q: What was your profession before you started your business Esirom ?
Prior to both & ESIROM,, I designed and developed websites as a freelancer and a little graphics here and there.

Q: Who or what motivated you to go into business?
A: Even though I always say I never set out to start a business, reflecting on my early days there is a trend, without even knowing the things I did prepared me to be a business owner when the time came. After graduating top of my college class with a BS in Industrial Design, all I could think about is landing my dream job at the top cell phone manufacturer company and being happy with that. Not even getting the chance to explore that, coming back to Jamaica after graduating I went straight into a 9-5 at a Web Development agency, seeing how things worked and the little success I was experiencing with my website I knew that to make it be a business I would need to sink all my time into it which meant stepping away from a guaranteed paycheck. I also didn’t like going anywhere looking at the price and walking back out, it was a big motivator to make enough money to be able to afford basic amenities without blinking and through entrepreneurship that gives you the chance to live without limits based on how much energy you put in.

Q:  Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
A: We started with $0 and used anything I saved to get the company going; once we landed a few clients then it wasn’t too hard, the most important thing I will say is that any profit was reinvested into the business or at an actual investment firm. There is not much information about investing business funds, and that is one of the challenges profitable small businesses face, what to do with any profit and how do you maximise it, so that over time the interest can work for you. Once you master this then you don’t need to raise capital if we are talking about digital business. For e.g. A credit card for running online ad campaigns was probably the biggest hurdle but once you can show the bank you have good habits then over time you will receive larger limits.

Q: Tell us about Esirom?
A: Esirom is a digital marketing agency that I started back in 2015. At first the agency only provided social media marketing services but as the need for quality photos and videos arose we quickly incorporated these services into the business forming a Multimedia division, the same for Technology which focuses on web development, apps and server management. Over the years, we have collectively worked with over 300 brands, locally, regionally and internationally. The content we create for these brands resulted in over 10 million likes/followers across the various social media platforms and hundreds of millions of exposure via reach and awareness campaigns. We plan to expand our divisions to two additional which will focus on Data and Analytics and the other on Original Productions such as podcasts and web series.

Q: What is the next big thing for Esirom
A: This is a big year for us, we are finally in a position to roll out a full scale sustainability program that will be done across Jamaica. We’re doing blood drives, beach clean ups, documentaries on the environment and impacts of social media on mental health, science competitions, artificial intelligent grants and even filming of a feature film to end the year. Expansion is another hot topic for us, we will be rolling into Montego Bay sometime in Q2 of this year and have our eyes set on Europe for Q3 2023.

Q: Many businesses have a moment they call their “big three break”, whether it be a news story, a big contract etc. Have you or your business had that “”big break ” yet?
A: I would say we have experienced many big breaks over the years, from winning international awards to opening more than one office, providing services the market wants before any other agency. We are grateful for all the “big break” moments that can be perceived as success but we don’t stop – our big break meter resets everyday, they should happen all the time, celebrated and move to the next. Once you get comfortable with the idea that you have made it then the hunger and innovation dies so stay hungry, humble and continuously innovate.

Q: Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
A: The biggest challenges the business faces can be summed up to the following:

  • Not being paid on time – we would love to push for payment terms that make sense, 21 days would be more acceptable, anything over that makes it very difficult to keep the lights on the flip side business owners also need to accept this won’t change and become pro accountants and find ways to save so you can make payroll every single time.
  • Not being paid what we are worth – when you first start out you may have to discount your services but as you build & grow, companies in Jamaica should try to match what other agencies are paid overseas and there is no doubt that we in Jamaica and the Caribbean, we do more than we are asked and we don’t always bill for it.
  • Finding talents that want to work – by this I mean people with strong work ethics who continue to push and work tirelessly for the goals.

Q: Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?
A: The freedom to be able to work anywhere in the world, that is the greatest advantage to owning a digital business. In the creative space you are constantly bouncing ideas, illustrating plans and learning from your peers, but it’s not the same as trying to do that virtually. I’ve been doing this a long time so I know if I don’t get this done wherever I am then it’s going to cause a domino effect. I also see that the business I created is made for others who may not have an opportunity to work at a company that pushes them to be the best they can while still encouraging them to take time off when it’s needed, don’t burn out – no job is worth that. Seeing my team grow over the years professionally and personally is very satisfying. Money has never been a motivator for me to get into business, it simply is a tool that you need to survive, once I have the minimum to survive I am quite content.

Q: What motivates you on a day-to-day basis?
A: The fact that no day is the same for me is what keeps a smile on my face. Everyone around me always says that I am forever calm and it doesn’t seem that much bothers me, this is mostly true and its because I know at the end of the day that my job, my companies are just that, a job and a business, it only comes to life when you have a great team so they motivate me and I get to learn from them, somewhat feels like your back at school but this time we are all working together to complete each project to the best of our abilities.

Q: How do you motivate people that aren’t close to you and enable them to see your vision?
A: I just tell my story, that seems to motivate most – don’t try to exaggerate or make it sound nicer than it is, just be real and honest about the journey and the struggles to get to the point I currently am and also remind them that I am still learning, I still make mistakes but they don’t hold me back from what I want to accomplish. Ultimately anyone can do what they want in business but only if they believe in themselves and take the risks needed to break through the noise.

Q: How do you remind yourself of what’s important?
A: I create a list usually in January of a new year and keep it simple, 3 top level goals I want to achieve for the year and then break them down into smaller goals. Ideas will popup everyday but I check my list, if it doesn’t align then I jot it down and move on.

Q: What time do you wake up and do you have a routine?
A: Waking up usually isn’t the issue for me, it’s more falling asleep. My brain is always on so it’s usually difficult to fall asleep before 3:00am. And then I typically wake up at 7:00am but I don’t actually start working until 9:30am so my routine is very simple: I drink tea, do a little exercise, check my calendar for the day and hit the ground running. I usually skip breakfast and lunch but have healthy snacks in between and then cook a solid meal for dinner.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I have a few, currently, I enjoy gardening which I’ve always had an interest in but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit, being at home more than the office helped to pass the time but also just took me back to basics because you start with nothing but soil and seed and then you get to watch it grow through all the various stages. Interestingly too it helped me to come up with new ideas for the business because my mind was clear. Resting by catching up on the latest on-demand shows and going for long walks up at the Holywell Park are also up on my hobby list.

Q: If the economy crashed hard and there was no more room for your sector, what would you do with yourself?
A: I believe even if the economy crashed there would still be a need for the technology sector and I’ve always thought about going into Cyber Security as well. We truly don’t do enough to protect ourselves and businesses from potential threats. I would start on a basic level of advising persons how they can do this without paying and then offer consultation for medium-large enterprises. If I didn’t feel the need to jump straight back into work then I would find entrepreneurs who need the advice to get to the next level and work with them to get there.

Alex Morrisey

Q: Seven day, six nights, all expenses paid, my vacation destination is…
A: Vietnam! I’ve been once many years ago and I am eager to go back and explore the country and soak up as much of their culture as I can.

Q: My favourite guilty pleasure is..
A: a malted milkshake from Devon House, Devon Stout is my go-to flavour.

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About the author

Xavier Murphy