We caught up with Yelena Gaufman, Strategy Partner and Marc Nohr, CEO, at Fold7 about how small agency life compares to big agency life, their key challenges and what the future holds for Fold7.
What are the benefits of being in a small agency environment VS being in a big network agency?
A small agency really is all about the people. There’s no time for politics or egos - you just get on with stuff. You don’t have to put process in place to break down hierarchy, it just doesn’t exist. You don’t talk about integration, you just do it.
Of course when I came to Fold7, being a smaller agency I expected it to run at a faster pace. I expected it to feel less corporate and more entrepreneurial, and my instincts were right about all those things. But I completely underestimated how different it would feel on an emotional level. I have never felt as personally invested as I do now, which for me is the best thing about my move to a smaller agency.
You just have a lot more skin in the game.
What are the key challenges you have faced with moving and how are you overcoming them?
Doing more with less. Being small means you can be nimble. It makes people hungrier and more ambitious. But a few more bodies wouldn’t hurt. I’m working on that - trying to hire amazing talent to grow team strategy!
What is the key reason that you decided to move across to a smaller agency?
I wanted to experience something different. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to stay in the industry. I was still in the 'brainstorming a new career’ phase when the opportunity came up (rather, when you called with the perfect role for me). I knew it was exactly what I was looking for from my very first interview. It was a time of exciting change at Fold7 and I would have the privilege of helping shape the future. There were no rules or historic baggage just a desire to do something special.
What would you recommend to someone just starting out, a big network agency or a smaller creative agency?
Be honest with yourself about what you love doing and do more of that.
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
Hillary Clinton (during the debates) - I could do with a few rounds in the ring with Trump.
Fold 7 have recently hired some exceptional senior talent from large network agencies. What has been the key to your success in attracting and securing these individuals?
Our beautiful office, our client list, and our culture, predicated as it is on being unbureaucratic, and putting ambition (both client and staff) first.
What do you feel are the key benefits to a smaller agency in hiring talent from large networks?
I don't think it's about size. It's about experience. We want the best talent, some of it resides in large networks and feels constrained. For the right people, an agency like ours can be liberating.
Culturally and operationally smaller agencies are often very different to large networks. How much emphasis do you put on onboarding and learning and development?
A lot, but we could do more. Dunbar's number says any social network has a limit at 150 people - which tells you why above a certain size, organisations become dysfunctional.
What does the future hold for Fold 7?
Momentum. Lots of it.
Thank you Marc. Thank you Yelena :)
Fold7 is a 21st Century advertising agency, focused on 21st Century consumers. Their guiding principle is ambition and that is the filter that they apply to everything that they do – ambition for their clients; businesses, for the talent they employ, and for the work they produce.