42ponies*: The first 474 days
On Oct 8th 2015 Uli and I founded the 42ponies GmbH. Usually you’d do these types of recaps and reflections after the first 100 days, or after the first year. But this week, exactly 474 days after that fateful day at the notary’s, is the very first week since we founded our company that I’ve had a little spare time and most importantly spare head space to actually sit down and start writing. That fact alone gives a pretty good impression of how our year has been. But to put it in words: whirlwind, phenomenal, exhausting, scary, humbling, exhilarating, full, rewarding and really just the beginning. Here are some of my favourite memories.
Welcome to the Ponyhof
We officially established our company on Oct 8th, 2015. And we signed our lease on the Ponyhof (the “stables” – it sounds better in German, believe me). Uli and I sat down on the raggedy, stained carpet, ordered some sushi, and reveled in our visions of world domination. Then we decided that we’d go for new wooden flooring – stat -, a new coat of paint, and mentally prepared for a gazillion Ikea trips. And for no reason other than being a little mental, we even gave ourselves a hard deadline for the official office opening: our first annual Halloween party on October 30th. A big shout out to Svenja, Sven, Markus and Peter for being our rocks, our PAX and IT builders, our couriers and biggest cheerleaders during those first few weeks.
We first wrote to her on a Friday, she came in the following Monday, we offered her the job Tuesday and Wednesday she had signed the contract (just in time before Uli took off on vacation). We are beyond lucky to have found Bettina. Hiring your first full time employee is a very scary proposition. But she completes our trio infernale, is the perfect balance between Uli and myself and has shaped and progressed the ponies* immensely through her experience, passion, skill and creativity.
Now we’re nine people that make their living as full time or part time ponies*. And we’re growing. A big thank you also goes out to Florian Wagenhuber, our freelance graphic designer with Conscious Design, who’s a pony at heart. 🙂
True to our corporate history (which makes our agency life a little more structured than other agencies) Uli and I have established regular 1:1s, conducted our first employee satisfaction survey and had our first team offsite, and our employees have inidivual yearly commitments. Hopefully this will help us grow our team and our business in a sensible manner, while maintaining a corporate culture of enablement, individual responsibility and passion.
A full blown team offsite! In the middle of a hot August, with some tough discussions, a little stand up paddle boarding (SUP) adventure and a new company mantra:
“Mit uns kann man ponies* stehlen” (you can steal ponies* with us – again: sounds much better in German…). It embodies everything we want to stand for. We are true partners for our clients, we are reliable, responsible and we’re game for – almost – anything.
We also slightly changed our brand positioning. We are now “42ponies*, your agency for communications and digital business”. Our long-term goal has always been 360° of communications. To help our clients from strategy to execution to measurement to optimization. While the term full service agency seems to have lost its pazzaz in the industry, we are actually quite comfortable with it. We know that successful campaigns utilize whichever communications channel and measure yields the best outcomes for the desired results – and quite frankly we would be bored if we only did PR, or only Social, or only Influencer Marketing. After all, that’s one of the reasons we’re called 42ponies* (for the uninitiated: 42, the answer).
We also discussed a few ground rules on “how not to be a shitty agency”. Blog post on that coming soon. 😉
werk, werk, werk
It might sound cheesy, but we’ve been very fortunate (and frankly, good at our jobs) to be able to work with wonderful brands, kind and daring clients and to rock a lot of very fun projects this past year. Here are a few examples, but I’d invite you to also check out our references site.
We’re turning 1!
Spooky demons, lovely sugar skulls and delicious treats. The annual ponies* Halloween bash didn’t disappoint. We celebrated our one year anniversary with clients, partners, friends, family and the usual Halloween shenanigans.
It was a thrilling year. So much so, that the entire team opted for a cozy, “quiet” christmas party in Bettina’s kitchen instead of something a little more active. With three different home-made cheese fondues it soon turned really comfy (full bellies and such…). We have a few changes coming up within our team and our client structure. We’re hiring fantastic people at the moment, are expanding and working even harder towards our goal of being a true 360° communications agency.
And Uli and myself? We are proud of us, our team. We don’t regret a thing, are constantly learning, experimenting, daring a little more each day. And eventually we’ll get this work-life-balance thing right… 🙂