• Chris Panzetta and Tash Tan, co-founders of creative digital company, S1T2. (SBS)
When S1T2 founders Tash Tan and Chris Panzetta first met at university it was dislike at first sight but they found a common interest using new and emerging technologies to tell stories in a creative way.
Amanda Copp

SBS Small Business Secrets
9 Jul - 5:35 PM  UPDATED 10 Jul - 9:05 AM

Mr Panzetta remembers the first time he saw Tash, who had turned up late for a lecture and dribbled a soccer ball the length of the theatre before bouncing it up every stair to the top of the hall.

“I’m just watching him like, ‘who does this guy think he is?’” Mr Panzetta recalls.

“We weren't actually mates in uni, we were in the same course, but he was always the guy who kicked a soccer ball around.”

After a bumpy start, a decade later Mr Panzetta and and Mr Tan have built a successful interactive digital agency, boasting clients like Adobe, Samsung and Vivid Sydney.

They now have an average growth rate between 80 and 150 per cent year on year and employ 20 staff.

“S1T2 stands for ‘story first, technology second’”, Mr Panzetta explained.

“So essentially what we try and do, or what we believe, is that storytelling is the best, most effective form of communication.”

“We believe the ways to tell stories are always changing so we essentially look at new technologies and new ways to tell stories, to help communicate, educate people, to make people feel,” he said.

“We look at new technology and say how can this be used for creative expression … whether that be AI, VR, or something like that.”

While the pair are now running a successful business, they said coming out of university and straight into the creative field was a big leap.

“You're fresh out of uni, there is no road map to do it, there's no course that you take anymore, or assignments set, it's just, 'Okay make it happen,’” said Mr Panzetta.

He said it was scary starting out, but taking risks has become part of S1T2’s business model.

“We've been told by one client once that we're fearless and I think that you have to realise that risks don't happen at the start of a business and they don't happen at the end - they're always happening.”

“You're always taking some risks, you just have to be comfortable with change, comfortable with taking a risk, comfortable that your team can handle it,” he said.

Mr Tan adds, “In companies, especially in ones that are a bit more established, they get to this point where they almost rest on their laurels.”

S1T2 don’t want to get to that point, they are pushing boundaries in the creative digital field which makes them attractive to big clients.

Mr Panzetta said technology is causing big shifts in all industries and businesses need to be across those changes to maintain success in a rapidly changing space.

“Anyone starting today, should really take a look at, not what small businesses meant before -  think about what small businesses will mean tomorrow,” he said.

“We fundamentally believe there's large shifts happening in our societies, small business today can be a global business overnight if it needs to be … so it's looking at it at a much bigger scope because you can be more powerful than you've ever been before as a small business.”

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