In Business Since 2021
Oko provides businesses with a unique digital strategy, upheld by the Vancouver creative community. Through goal setting, strategic planning, streamlined communication and scheduled catch-ups, clients have a front-row seat to strategy and milestones. Oko is a boutique agency to ensure that every little detail has been thoughtfully examined by the founders, Devyn Benner and Jasmine Jex. Devyn was raised between Kelowna, Victoria, and Quadra Island, BC. When she moved to Vancouver during her last years of high school, she was taken under the wings of Pablo and MJ Zamudio at El Kartel, and assisted in the managing of the creative space, events and community. After graduation, she studied and worked abroad, growing roots in Paris, London and Hong Kong. Freelancing in various roles and industries gave her insight into the common threads of successful business practices around the world. Devyn’s nomadic early life experience gave way to the self-awareness that catalyzes her capacity to build community on and off the clock. Jasmine was raised bi-coastal between Vancouver and Connecticut. She studied Fashion Marketing at the Wilson School of Design, during which she served as the student representative on the Faculty Council. She wore many hats and quickly advanced within roles under the guidance of serial entrepreneur Adele Tetangco, from intern at Garmentory to web coordinator of Et Tigre. While working in fashion, Jasmine became passionate about extending the life cycle of consumer goods and founded the circular fashion platform, Remint. These experiences gave her the tools, knowledge and ability to guide both startups and established brands in creating and managing their digital identity. Devyn and Jasmine founded Oko in November 2021 after coming to the realization that their joint creative efforts were surpassing side-hustle status. Since then, Oko has helped more than 23 brands innovate their digital strategy efforts. Take Tripadvisor: their Facebook follower growth increased from 1k to 4.8k per week within the first two months of Oko’s management. Beyond social growth, brands that work with Oko see conversion. In partnership with Oko, a BC tech start-up successfully onboarded half of all users via social media. Oko is passionate about bringing digital expertise to promising emerging businesses and is optimistic about the year ahead, seeing a 54% month-over-month revenue growth so far in 2023.
Best Youth Entrepreneur
What motivated you to start your business and what is your vision for the future of the company?
In the digital world, there are no borders. In order to thrive online, one must understand communities beyond their physical location. More than half of social interaction is now digital and we find ourselves identifying with the niche that reflects our personal values. In the years leading up to founding Oko, we watched household brands being replaced by brands that were disrupting their industry not through innovation in technology- but rather through innovation in marketing strategy. As founders that grew up with a smart phone in our hands, we see the logic in modernizing marketing efforts and offer brands comprehensive strategies to do so. We’re looking forward to expansion in the upcoming year. New offerings such as public relations and film production will streamline marketing efforts and offer more organization for our clients. Oko’s in-house team is growing to include experts in all of our offerings as we form alliances with other freelancers and agencies. We owe our clients, creative partners, and community for Oko's strong first year, and we look forward to celebrating our collective success in 2023.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Youth Entrepreneur Award?
We take responsibility for making the most of our short lived experience as professionals, which has taken courage but built the grit required to run a successful startup. In the beginning of our SWOT analysis, we felt our age may be perceived as a weakness, but under further investigation we found our age to be an asset in the digital space, and with time and experience we’ve proven that hunch to hold true. Oko attracts an experienced clientele of founders and executives that are looking to revamp their digital efforts and appeal to a younger audience. Our tagline is “Oko gets it”, which to us means staying contemporary within any given niche, community or culture; and our position as Gen-Z founders has proven to be an asset in understanding what this takes in the digital space. We’re proud to use our identity to our advantage, and propel business owners of all levels of digital prowess forward using progressive digital strategy. Mentors have helped us get to where we are today, and this gratitude is what propels us towards taking other young members of the entrepreneurial community under our guidance. One step we’ve recently taken in this direction is lecturing at universities, sharing insight with business and marketing students at schools like Wilson School of Design, Vancouver Community College, and John Casablancas Institute. We’ve also taken on apprentices at Oko, which have turned into permanent, in-house positions. Building a community of young professionals we can collaborate with is something we’re always pursuing, and we always have an eye and an ear out to help bolster the local community of emerging entrepreneurs. We’ll be honest, we’re no strangers to blue sky thinking. We’ve found, however, that during this time of economic hardship, smaller community initiatives and tangible goals have introduced the most hope to founders and small businesses. Many small businesses no longer have the budget for an in-house marketing team, and we offer these teams a digital strategy to implement themselves. Through our in-person digital strategy sessions, we walk through building a social media strategy to make this information even more accessible to bootstrapping founders or thought leaders. And lastly, we’ve introduced the Oko Startup Program to offer our services at a discounted rate to emerging businesses that we see high potential in. We see Oko becoming a pillar in the local economy, and hope to become an example to other youth looking to embrace entrepreneurship and community.
Why do you think you should win the Premier’s People’s Choice Award?
We grew up immersed in British Columbia and its diverse communities. BC is a source of inspiration for us and a place we’d always hoped to contribute to. As our agency has grown, we’ve brought along our creative community and connected them to an international roster of clients. Since founding our company in November 2021 we’ve worked with 23 brands (half of which have been startups). Oko has acclimated to the needs of bootstrapping founders, prioritizing accessibility for emerging businesses. Social media strategy sessions are one way Oko lends its expertise to entrepreneurs. During these sessions, key aspects of social media marketing are covered: target market analysis, competitor analysis, branding guidance, educational resources, growth, engagement, content, collaboration, influencer strategies and platform-specific insights. Partnerships include Wilson School of Design, Spaces Coworking, Vancouver Community College, Local Health Co and John Casablancas Institute. It has given Oko an opportunity to become more familiar with the needs and nuances of emerging local businesses and allows us to cater our offerings accordingly. Passionate about seeing businesses grow from the ground up, we introduced Oko’s Startup Program. Through the program, we’re able to garner a diverse client roster and gain an intimate understanding of the start-up sphere. Clients benefit from the holistic, invested approach of an in-house marketing team and the expertise and connections of an outsourced agency. As a part of the local creative ecosystem, we lean on experts in areas such as graphic design and photography; while the creative community looks to Oko as a connection to commerce they may not have an introduction to otherwise. This is especially beneficial to creatives when it comes to partnerships with Oko’s roster of international clients. These partnerships offer an opportunity for Vancouver creatives to gain exposure from each project's unique audience. Connecting people, industries, and ideas make Oko an accelerator of the local economy. Beyond our public offerings, we’re committed to making digital success accessible through our strategy sessions and Oko’s Startup Program. While supporting startups, we’re simultaneously bolstering the Vancouver creative community through partnerships with international brands. We look forward to playing a part in propelling our local commerce and creative communities toward success.