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5 Years Later


5 years ago this month Jon and I sat down to discuss the future of our careers in this industry. It was a transitional period for us, we had both become unemployed due to an all-to-common-for-the-time office shut down. We were faced with a choice: Get a job at another agency or start our own company with the clients who were abandoned by our previous employer. Our decision to go out on our own became clear after interviewing with a few of the usual suspects. The interviews revealed that all of these companies were more or less saying the same things, were structured the same way, and were delivering similar work. We felt there was a better way.

We didn’t want to rely on the legacy of past employers as the basis for our new company. Instead, we wanted to challenge the existing formula that so many others were using.

Here are a few of the things we decided to implement from day one:

Partners on every piece of business
We hated it when we used to pitch business and then not get to work on it because as senior creative staff we were moved on to the next pitch. We wanted clients to work with the people who pitched the business. This also ensured that we only pitched business we actually would want to work on.

Small agile teams
No more teams of 20 people where you had no idea what 12 of the people did.

No technology builds
We believed that building technology (infrastructure, data and application layer) is a totally different business from designing user experience. In our experience you can’t be great at both, so we decided we would focus on being great at defining and designing user experience, not building it.

90% of employees to be creative (CD,AD,GD,CW,etc)
We wanted a company built by creative people for creative people.

No account managers
Account managers typically create a layer between the client and the people doing their work. We want our clients to work with the people doing the work. Putting clients in contact with the team, leads to better work. No more broken telephone or account managers promising things that couldn’t be delivered.

2 Billing rates (Partners + Associates)
We were sick of these ridiculous rate sheets that agencies had. 20 different titles with 20 different billing rates. If you want to know our rates I can tell you over the phone.

Most of the above has remained unchanged. Along the way we added a couple of Partners, hired more Associates, took on some technology (i.e. front-end builds) and created a group that specifically deals with digital marketing programs. The growth has been steady and the vision remains unchanged.

Doing something new and different takes courage and commitment – especially when your a prospective client or staff member. We want to thank everyone involved with Teehan+Lax over the past 5 years. Thanks for believing in what we we’re building – For taking a chance to try something different.

Geoff Teehan More posts by Geoff Teehan