September 18, 2017
Well, it’s really been way too long since I’ve published a new post. And this one is kind of special, because this past July 1st marked our 15-year anniversary. Sure, it’s a cliché, but if you were to tell me at the very beginning where we’d be today as a company, or describe the kind of work we’re delivering, or tell me about the incredible team we’ve assembled, or the clients we’re partnering with, I’m really not so sure how I’d process it. It’s exciting and humbling all at once.
To celebrate, we figured a bit of adventure was in order, so we packed the entire team in a bus and headed to Whistler for a two-day retreat, a town-hall, and a little bit of trouble. And by trouble I mean skydiving, white water rafting, and off-road ATVing!
Btw, did I mention we’re hiring?
This past year was an interesting one. We had some changes to our leadership team with the departure of one of our founders. Not anticipated, but probably a sign of a healthy business – one that needs to continually evolve as the landscape around us is also in a constant state of change. And of course, we wish him well in his future adventures.
We also added amazing new talent to our team in both our Vancouver and NYC studios. With each trip I make back to our Vancouver HQ, there’s almost always one or two new faces I need to put to a name. Our New York City studio is also expanding, with a headcount of 6 today, we’re anticipating we’ll grow to a team of 10 or more in the coming months. If you're in NYC and would like to connect, we'd love to meet you!
We also recently added a data and analytics offering within our strategy group, with Justine Yu joining us from Possible, Los Angeles. We’re very excited to have her on our team, because data is critical to what we do, and this role has been a priority for us for a very long time.
Data ensures the work we do is grounded in validated insight; it’s not just about measuring for optimization in a digital marketing kind of way, but for influencing our decisions in the design process, or determining what we should be designing in the first place. It’s about removing the guesswork, and applying rigor to the human aspect of thinking through a solution to a business problem we know we can solve through strategy, design, and technology.
It’s also been an incredible year of growth for us. We have a very good excuse for going dark the past several months, with 16 new clients over the past year that we’re pretty excited about...
Building out our e-commerce capabilities.
We’re working with several new clients to launch transactional web platforms and content experiences including Loloi Rugs, Performix, Orb Wellness, and easily one of our most interesting clients, Samuel French.
We’ve also started working extensively with the ShopifyPlus platform, something we’ve been eager to dig into for a while! P.s., if you haven’t considered buying Shopify stock yet, I highly recommend it. This company is going to dominate e-commerce in the very near future.
Going deep on financial services and fintech.
Easily one of the most intriguing verticals for us; it’s an epicenter for digital innovation, with no shortage of fintech startups unbundling the consumer financial services business bit-by-bit, while legacy organizations continue to balance investing in said startups with their own innovation endeavors. If you haven’t read the Innovator’s Dilemma, this is exactly what it’s about.
Over the past year, we’ve had several opportunities to help new clients in this space – both local and global – advance their digital offering while increasing our own understanding of the nuanced complexities of the financial services industry.
While we’ve continued to support our friends at Coast Capital, Canada’s largest Credit Union, this past year saw new strategy and design engagements with Credential Financial, a national provider of wealth management products and services, Fiserv, a global leader in financial technology solutions, and, while we can't name it, we're now working with one of the world's leading financial institutions, based right here in New York City.
We also had the opportunity to work with early stage startup, Bluestone Life, a team set on reshaping life insurance. We helped this mission-driven organization to define a brand platform and a product vision. We utilized our 6-week sprint framework to conduct collaborative workshops and to prototype a solution quickly. If you’re in the US and looking for coverage, you really should check them out.
Bringing design to the tech industry.
We also continue to see a real opportunity in the technology space. The drive to constantly innovate through new products and services means there’s a never ending need for brand strategy, product design, and customer experience work. This industry is unique, as there's a real gap between design-led brands, and those organizations slower to make design a priority. And frankly, we like working with both, equally ;)
Our recent experience in this vertical has taken us across the spectrum, working with Google, an organization that has made design as a core value, and Media.net, historically focused on their technology, looking to our team to help guide brand strategy.
Supporting our local partners.
In the Vancouver market, we also started working with the fine folks at the Vancouver Aquarium on their ambitious launch of Ocean.org, and the community platform, Shoreline Cleanup. We’ve also been engaged by BCLC to lead a sizable digital platform strategy project. Not to mention our continued relationships with BC Hydro and Telus. All great companies.
While today, we do a majority of our work south of the border, it’s great to see these Vancouver organizations investing in digital and design, and we’re excited to be a part of their evolution.
We turned 15 this year, and I think that’s pretty incredible.
It really does take a team to make something like this happen. It takes harmony in how a team works together, at the leadership level, and at the front lines of delivery.
And not just our internal team, but also the team that sits on the other side of the table – our client partners. Because, while we get to invoice you for the time we spend together, we simply can’t do what we do without trust, collaboration, and a shared vision for what’s possible, to change perspectives, to persuade, and to connect with hearts and minds.
We thank you for helping us reach this amazing milestone.