Startup Vs. Agency
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Which would be a better career option, leadership role in a small well-funded startup, or designer in a creative agency? I know it depends on what the startup is, or who the creative agency is... but still...
I've often thought about the agency life vs. startup culture, and am curious to hear the experiences everyone has from them.
I like the actual work that comes out of most design agencies, yet the startup companies seem to have a more free culture (if that makes sense).
depends if you want to work on one thing for a long time.... gets boring after the first 18 months in a startup.
Start-ups BLOW. I got fucked by a start-up when they asked me to relocate to Chicago...
... I moved all my shit (sold a 1/4 of it... Tossed a 1/4 of it) and about a month after I got up to that filthy hell hole... They bought out another design firm. I went from lead AD to a fucking bump on a log. The fuckers running that bullshit told me 'too bad'... So I packed up what was left of my shit and headed back to where the cost of living actually made sense.
Never trust a start-up unless you ask for a piece of the pie... Your chances of getting fucked by a startup are far greater than settling with an established firm.
- what was the startup?identity
As a visual designer, you will probably expand your portfolio while working at an agency (e.g., different clients, different challenges, etc.).
What do you mean by startup? Like a company that does other stuff besides design? Like designing packing for spices?
- Yes. a spice startup. Seems likely.youngdesigner
Startup means any business that's got a product delivered WITH design, but the company does not do work for design itself. Skype, Vimeo, Twitter, etc... had fallen into this category before they were bought.
Definitely working on the same thing for a while would get boring...
Startups are big risk on so many levels, but also a big reward if they succeed. It is like playing the lottery.
There are many breeds of startup. If you are looking at a gig that's venture funded, or has VC driving it, then just acknowledge that you are signing up for the wild west and anything can happen, good or bad, because for the most part the business model is to simply get one set of investors paid out by another set. Its a lot like a ponzee scheme most of the time.
If however you are looking at a firm that's privately backed or driven by angel investors, and has a product that requires great design and creative thinking, then it might be really fun. If the startup doesn't fit well with your personal interests, chances are slim that it will be a good fit.
I was at a funded music startup that melted down in true wild west style, and I ended up losing a couple of months salary out of the deal. Overall, super fun experience, but lessons learned.
The Dark Side Of Tech Startups
- So what side are you on? You seem to talk shit about all of it, so it would make sense to state your claim on this.lvl_13
Agencies are more fun.
variety or single product to focus.
even with equity at a start up, you need to stay at least a year for little vesting you get.
you work just as hard but agency folks are more fun.
startups, engineering is still king, design is an after thought (skin that shit).
You rarely see 'bros' at agencies
but at startups, way too many 'bros'
at agency you learn how to pitch and sell (yourself and your work)
you get about 20-30% less at salary with a promise of millions.
at startup, you will be the lead designer, production and qa. you learn a lot about launches and technology.
startups are great place to find people you click with to start your own shit.
at agency, you are more exposed to design / art.
at startup, you are more exposed to ux and product design.
- Almost everyone I started business projects with I met at agencies. I find startup people are usually too caught up trying to make it work to consider new opportunities.zarkonite
- make it work to consider new opportunities.zarkonite
- RE: "startups are great place to find people you click with to start your own shit."zarkonite
- Really? almost everyone i know after they are off the vesting clief, wants to start their own.2002
- "you get about 20-30% less at salary with a promise of millions." YEAHSigDesign
If you're young, I'd say go for an agency. Build out your book with all the killer brands, and get some variety going. Then you have more bargaining power. They'll work you to death and you'll make way less, but you'll learn loads.
Then once you get a bit more seasoned, chase the cash I guess. You can make 6 figures easy in Silicon Valley at a start up. There are tremendous opportunities at start ups to define a product and brand, but you're no longer working with the cool kids. 98% engineers. But you stand out that way as well.
It's all about jumping strategically... but I've learned that over way too many years now.
btw, ogilvy has the sexiest girls...
Agencies Work you hard but usually more reliable consistent and atmosphere if your not caught up in some political bullshit.
But most good startups will not hire without agency experience.
With start ups, you have to have good chemistry. Depends also on start up cash, who what, where, when,... its a roller coaster ride. One day your happy next day its chaos. The relationship dynamics in a startup will change fast especially if you are with a start focused on scalable growth.
Once the start up reaches over 30 people you will not recognized where you are anymore. which also will create some people drama and people trying to show value in power struggles.
Also plan to see people come and go as start up culture in management is heavily focused on if someone is right for the job for sake of scalable growth and your contribution to the start up on all levels.... if it survives and there is a good exit plan. You can make out pretty nicely, if you survive the early stages with a good contract,
Depends on the personality. However alot of good startups focus on your professional relationships in early stages. This is the new mantra of a quality person in leadership. in how many quality people will follow you from your old job. So agency relationships are important in this dynamic. The start up will focus on specific agency talent for this reason.
Also agencies seem to be one way for startups to pitch to an agencies client if they have a specific company targeted startup product or service.
- wolff olins has the sexiest girls!doesnotexist
What kind of startup? Don't want to deal with these kind of guys:
Startups suck, usually unexperienced, young people with no clue of business there. Also they try to fuck you up everytime. Even happened to me; applied as designer, contract as designer and on my first day I was introduced as a developer and they were not set to change that. Got fired then after three months. Assholes. Company doesn't exist anymore and has never made any profit.
Startup: Depends on if you want to work every day of the week, including holidays. Get an LLC to protect your own assets.
You can make bank, and do it. Just have to put the hours in.
Agencies: Basically get experience and get your portfolio in order, which if you don't have... you can't get work otherwise unless you have warm leads.
Best option, both:
I just prefer to freelance at agencies at a day or week rate. You report to your self and take time off when you want.
Meet with anyone and work with people you get along with.
If you really want to learn product design/ux then a startup may be better. However, there are a lot of agencies that specialize in that line of work as well.