This month, Ascedia celebrates 15 years in business. We’ve weathered economic downturns and seen major shifts in technology, and through it all we’ve developed strong relationships with our clients by helping them navigate the often complicated and sometimes confusing world of digital marketing.
When I started this agency, digital is what I knew. After successfully leading the digital arm of a travel & hospitality agency, I could no longer ignore the drive I felt to run my own business. Growing up, I watched my father, my grandfather and even my great-grandfather run their own companies – entrepreneurship is in my blood. I wasn’t scared of the dedication it would take to be successful. I was surrounded by great people who I knew could help me get an agency off the ground. And I believed we would have some “luck” along the way too!
Ascedia started with four people, and today it's bigger than we ever envisioned. Back in 2000, we never thought about having more than 25 employees. When we started the agency, we just wanted to start the type of company that WE wanted to work at. That original vision has gotten us to where we are today.
Over the years, we’ve received various industry accolades and awards for our work. While these awards reinforce what I’ve always believed about Ascedia – that our work is unique and genuine – the number of trophies on our shelf doesn't fully represent who we are and what we’ve done. Here’s how I measure our success.
A Unique Culture
When Ascedia began, we envisioned a different type of digital marketing agency. We wanted to build a company with fewer layers – a flat structure would keep us nimble and able to quickly adapt to changes in the market. Mark and I wanted to create something that felt different from the corporations and other agencies we’d worked for in the past. But we understood early on that it’s not just about offering unconventional benefits and perks: you can't create culture with policy.
At Ascedia, we have an open, genuine and caring environment – where people care about each other, their work and our clients. We’ve seen that a fun environment and a performance-based organization aren't mutually exclusive. High performers are better able to enjoy the fun. They’re able to balance the demands of the job with our environment, which encourages people to laugh, be creative and connect with each other.
A Great Team
Ascedia isn’t a top-down organization – that’s not who we are. Every member of our team adds value and contributes to bigger decisions. I try to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in all of our employees by encouraging ideation, giving them room to share what they are passionate about and to go after it. We want to help our employees realize their dreams and take chances – and we reward those risks. When you empower employees to grow personally and professionally, that's when you get stronger people with new ideas, who aren't afraid to think outside the box and speak up for what they believe in.
Our people have made Ascedia what it is today. All of the great things about our culture have come about organically. Our employees wanted yoga classes, a garden club and a running club, and now we have them. Even our recognition program was developed by our employees, who wanted a chance to thank each other for their contributions. It’s all a reflection of what our employees care about and who they are – and because as leaders we’ve stayed flexible and adaptable, these things are possible.
A Common Philosophy
Since the day we opened our doors, we’ve never stopped being entrepreneurs. We’ve stayed open to risk and are always expanding our vision to include new offerings and services. At Ascedia, we’re constantly trying new ideas and systems. I don’t believe there's a silver bullet for every company. Because technology changes so rapidly, we have to be able to adapt. We have to be willing to give new things a shot – adopt the tool, use it for a while and sometimes decide that it’s time to let it go and try the next new thing. This spirit of experimentation is a big part of who we are, and it ultimately allows us to better serve our clients.
I'm not convinced that we control our destiny 100%. Today, all businesses are at the mercy of technology and changes in the market. As a result, Ascedia has gone through many transitions, from a custom development shop to a CMS-driven agency. We have added marketing services, video services and now have content services available to clients. Our spirit of entrepreneurship has kept us flexible enough to roll with whatever changes come our way.
A Bright Future
Fifteen years ago, digital was a small fraction of marketing budgets, if it was a line item at all. Today, the scales have tipped. We’re now able to help our clients get the most from their digital marketing budgets, beyond the website. Marketing services and content development are king, and it's so much more than words on a page. We help our clients create content that's effective, that reaches the right audiences and drives them to convert. And not just written content, but other media like video and infographics.
My goals for Ascedia are more grounded than just numbers. It's not about headcount or revenue - although of course we have those types of goals too. It's not about landing a marquee client or even about the metrics. It's about becoming a bigger organization that still feels like a family, remaining a company that cares about each other and supports each other as we take on new initiatives. I see us growing our people and our leadership so that we can move faster. I see the addition of new voices and fresh ideas that inspire original, fun work that our team is excited about. I call this “smart growth.”
Over the past 15 years, Ascedia’s team has had the luxury of growing up together. We started out as single people, newbies starting a company. We all moved through different life stages together – getting married, having kids – and I’m grateful to have been part of life’s intersection with work.
For Ascedia, change is the only constant. We're always tweaking and making adjustments – and we aren't done yet. Looking forward to the next 15 years!