LONDON, ONT. -- It’s a digital marketing company that was started by London veteran Corey Shelson five years ago.

"When I left high school, I joined the military and I spent the next 13 years in uniform. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and when I got home I realized I wanted to do other things."

Shelson enrolled in the Ivey School of Business after serving, and fell in love with marketing. He used his new skills to help his wife market her fitness business, and then took his knack for marketing one step further and opened up 44 North Digital Marketing in the forest city in 2015.

"I had an idea, I had a laptop and really I think by that point I had spent so much time in uniform and I had spent so much time working in these large organizations that I wanted to try something different." 

With dozens of clients, North 44 grew year over year, and then when the pandemic hit, the initial unknown for the company turned into its busiest time ever.

"Within a couple of weeks phone calls started happening with clients saying we don’t have a choice, we have to keep going and digital is our only chance of surviving. What can you do to help us? What can you do to help us get through COVID and be successful?"

Suddenly the 44 North team went from six employees to more than 14, making it one of the fastest growing tech companies in the country this year. The team works with companies across all sectors to help them build a digital presence that also allows them to grow and succeed in a digital form. 

"You see the likes of Joe Kools and Toboggan, downtown restaurants that we need to support because they are struggling through this," says Shelson. "We are working with them to bring a new digital functionality so they can take online bookings, they can do takeout and do curb side delivery." 

Vice President of Strategy and Operations Jackie Hougham says staff work hard to make sure clients are getting the full digital marketing experience. 

"What we’re doing is far greater than building out a website with that sense of launch and leave," says Hougham. "We as a team are a little bit unique because we love data and we really love to be able to analyze that data and understand where there are opportunities." 

Shelson says the pandemic has really highlighted the need to be able to run a business online.

"Businesses on a whole are going to realize how important having a digital presence is and it’s not about just having a website and posting three times to Facebook, it’s about providing the tools to make the buying experience easier." 

Moving forward 44 North Digital Marketing hopes to continue to grow not just its own business, but the businesses of many others, so that places can continue to operate and thrive no matter what challenges come their way.