How Divi Is Fueling Entrepreneurship in Portugal

Posted on August 14, 2018 by in Customer Spotlight | 18 comments

How Divi Is Fueling Entrepreneurship in Portugal

This post was submitted by Kevin Mullins as part of our community themed Divi Summer Sale week. Each day of the weeklong sale we will be publishing new stories submitted by community members about how Divi has helped them build their careers and businesses.


“Work is a major instrument of God’s providence; it is how he sustains the human world.”
― Timothy J. Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work

I have a confession to make; I never set out to start, own, or run a digital agency. Yet here I am, nearly four years later with happy clients all over the world, an amazing team and a growing cadre of global partners. It seems incredible to write it but I am so proud to be the diretor executivo of a story-driven design agency called Atomivox in Lisbon, Portugal.

How did a theologian and minister from California stumble into growing a digital agency focused on helping businesses grow through beautiful branding and web design, buyer personas and captivating messaging in Portugal? Turns out that I owe much of it to Divi.

The Backstory

Divi wasn’t my first foray into the world of websites, that journey actually started earlier as a hobby with a Mac app called RapidWeaver. My wife and I had moved from California (by way of Ireland) to Lisbon Portugal in 2010 with simple intentions; to serve Portugal and bless as many people as possible. In those early days, I was serving in a small local Christian church, dabbling in very simple web design while running a global localisation project for a U.S. client. Driven mainly by curiosity, designing websites became a minor pastime of mine and I was especially intrigued by RW’s approach to building pages using plugins and modules. When people started asking me if I could build small sites for them the excitement of formalising something began to emerge.

I was just starting to consider building something serious when from seemingly out of nowhere…Portugal’s economy hit a brick wall. In less than 18 months our newly adopted country went from relatively stable to being lumped in with the PIIGS (one of 5 bankrupt European countries) multiple bank failures, a collapsed government, riots and demonstrations and millions of Portuguese people, including many, many friends fleeing the country. Almost without warning we found ourselves fighting for survival alongside our friends and neighbors in the midst of Portugal’s very own Great Depression.

Divi: A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

In spite of living in financial armageddon the idea of web design never went away. As our personal resources began to dwindle from constant charity and a never-ending queue of desperate, hungry people I began to actively explore ways to enhance and broaden the reach of our charitable work — to do more by transforming a web hobby into some sort of business that could provide paychecks instead of handouts. The idea of building a design agency that could create jobs using talented local people seemed appealing. In late 2013 someone introduced me to the concept called Business As Missions (aka BAM), giving me a usable, practical framework for the business ideas I was toying with. To further cement my ideas I reached out to and was mentored by exceptionally talented individuals in business and higher education who had used business as a means to support and develop other emerging markets.

One day while doing research I came across a platform called WordPress, which led me down a rabbit trail of WordPress themes and opened up a world of amazing new possibilities in theme design, php development and the global WordPress ecosystem. Soon after, I discovered Elegant Themes and immediately signed up for an account to gain access to their theme library. Due to various social projects I wasn’t able to do much with my agency idea but all that suddenly changed in December of 2013 when the Divi theme dropped, demonstrating what a WordPress page builder could be. Despite being inexperienced in both web design and development, not to mention running a design agency, I knew that this theme was immensely powerful and a complete game changer. Suddenly I had a concept and a powerful design platform around which I could build an agency, serve global clients and provide the talented Portuguese designers and developers with jobs necessary for survival.

Atomivox: An Agency is Born

It’s been a five year journey and while it may sound like hyperbole, I am convinced that Divi has changed Portuguese lives and businesses for the better. Faced with a severe economic depression (from malinvestment and failed government policies) many Portuguese people began to turn to business creation to regain their footing. This may sound like par for the course in America but even until recently in Portugal and other parts of Europe, entrepreneurship has been an overlooked concept. Even though I was a newcomer to entrepreneurship, I knew that good business was a long-term solution to reversing the economic devastation plaguing Portugal.

Partnering with the talented Marcy Henriques, my VP of Design (who had previously run a successful design agency), we fused our personal convictions to Elegant Theme’s Divi and formed an agency to support and develop entrepreneurs. Our goal was to create amazing branding and websites for tech startups, SME’s and social organisations who themselves are on a mission to create innovative products and services. By supporting SME’s and startups we’ve positioned ourselves as forward-looking and outward focused, working to expand our footprint into larger markets like London and New York. As an early adopter of Divi, I’ve had the privilege of speaking to and learning from some of the veterans of the Divi community; people like Geno Queiroz, Tim Strifler and Ryan Crozier. Atomivox was born as a simple idea: bring hope to the Portuguese by bringing work to Portugal and while no entrepreneur story would be complete without the perennial mistakes disclaimer, we’re certain that as long as we keep delivering great story-driven web design, content narratives and custom digital graphics, the Atomivox story has only just begun.

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18 Comments

  1. Great story – very inspiring! Well done!

  2. …a great story! Love the site! What’s the name of the intro feature? I’ve been looking for one of those for my site! Any info would be greatly appreciated!

    Cheers!

    Rich

    • Thanks for the compliments Rich. We’re currently using the Perky Animate module for our header.

  3. Great story! Just to let you know I’m starting my own company of IT Consulting, focusing mainly on 3D Virtual Tours using Matterport technology, home automation and general IT business, including the developing of “simple” websites using Divi for customers! So, don’t be afraid, I won’t be a major competitor! 🙂 And if you need a virtual tour, just keep in touch (just search for ruimduarte at social networks! Cheers!

    • Thanks for commenting Rui! Great to hear about another entrepreneur. Drop us a line and let’s chat more.

  4. Enjoyed this article. Very powerful, encouraging and inspiring. Best wishes!

  5. Alternative title for this article: “Jesus for salvation by grace, Divi for salvation by works.” Seriously, I’m very inspired by this article and the perseverance of Kevin and his team. God is good!

    • Thanks Matthew. Glad to hear that our story inspired you.

  6. Great story – Thanks for sharing – We build websites since 2002 and at that time we avoided WordPress because it got hacked all the time. Instead, we moved to TYPO3 and start from 2004 – 2010 we were a very active member of the web-empowered church WEC movement which made TYPO3 accessible for non-techs. At that time there was no sable DIVI, but the WEC Package had all up and running with one click and we were able to concentrate on training others, which helped a lot of people meanwhile. Then in 2010 that WEC idea got buried as the Dev’s from TYPO3 Core started to develop something which then years later still did not happen. So many TYPO3 devs moved on to other CMS – most went to Drupal – which is now a great multilingual system (WordPress still is monolingual in the core, unfortunately), again others like us went to Processwire – a really great tool for Designers and there we met many who originally was actually at WordPress and while talking and working with them we then also came to know DIVI 3.* and that was really something which was still not like the WEC Packages but which had the potential for it. Meanwhile, we do the same like you and support churches, businesses, and even governmental agencies with WordPress DIVI sites as we can reuse and build up sites fast and then concentrate on training others to do things by themselves and still having them in our support systems. The only handicap we had is that RipOff Business here at WordPress but we meanwhile found a solution for that problem too and built up an Inspire to share network of several agencies where we started to more or less refurbish most if the wpmudev plugins – that was the “coffee club – its unfortunately not much more” we started off before using DIVI and they complained so much about Divi there uagh – until we realized that the support at DIVI is much much better actually and faster than the one at WPMUDEV especially since they introduced their crappy live chat – unfortunately now DIVI seems to take the same root with that live chat idea – we really don’t need that as we live in a country where our people won’t speak much English nor can the support of ET read Thai, this means we need to translate all requests from the people we help first into English language and doing that live simply won’t work at all! And having all that in a Mail won’t help our clients to motivate them so that they see that they get lots of feedback from DIVI and that it would be great to learn English too 😉 So that live chat really turns off right now many of them as they can’t participate and they can’t post any more requests by themselves – where we helped them to translate their requests – and in the ET forum all those great devs at DIVI aren’t any more available – that is now really sad and a thumbs down for DIVI.
    We meanwhile also started to use OXYGEN and what we realized is that our customers who often have no web know how at all really prefer OXYGEN over DIVI for one simple reason – They (our customers) like to learn more, they like to get challenged and not only be a click a click artist. They like to modify headers and footers to their needs, they really like the way OXYGEN enables them to insert dynamic content and actually also most of it to be not at all bound to any template – They like that with OXYGEN they now can use SCSS and common frameworks like Bootstrap and so much more. We are happy about that development as we always recommended to DIVI to be much more Developer friendly as even Coffee Club Retirees like to experiment and not only like to do a click job. I think DIVI is currently going in a slightly wrong direction missing all those developers and upcoming developers – many of them are already at OXYGEN. Still, DIVI will be the package which drives people to use a CMS at all – let’s say – DIVI is our Entry package for everyone but those who like to do more get an Option with OXYGEN – which integrates with DIVI and other Builder just perfect.
    The funny thing is that we met there the former devs of WPMUDEV, who also left that biggest WordPress Coffee House in the WordPress Community. They are now with OXYGEN. Let’s hope that DIVI will take over the complete WPMUDEV community as they now mainly support DIVI too but can’t match with the ET support – especially here on the facebook groups – especially the Elegant Marketplace Group with very knowledgeable people.
    I am looking forward to being able to follow our Mission for God’s Kingdom to web empower many more people and institutions around the world with DIVI and OXYGEN.
    Andi

    • Thank you for sharing your story Andi. We’ve heard of Oxygen and will have to do a head-to-head comparison soon. All the best in your work.

    • I concur. Divi is for the most basic jobs for my agency now – due to lack of header options, blog options, etc… And they seem to release features a lot dont want or need.

      Oxygen is great and will only get better with 2.1 with ACF and Toolset integration! Elementor is great also.

      Will definitely return to Divi once they catch up. But it seems this could take a looong time.

      • We’ve looked into Elementor also. Whatever works to get the job done I suppose. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jack. Hope our story inspired you.

  7. Great to see other aspiring and inspiring businesses in this amazing country. 🙂

    • No disagreement here Matt. Glad you’ve found what we’ve found! Best of luck!

  8. Hi
    ! I write from Italy, Sicily. I want to congratulate you on your story and on your beautiful site. I really liked some effects in particular that of parallax of the Team page, “Get a Team” section.
    There are three parallax levels: the background, the png image and the divider. Can I ask how you got it? Thank you and 1000 best wishes for your business.

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