Instead of a Columbus-based company eyeing expansion to a larger market like New York City, an NYC-based firm is ready and excited to open its second office in Columbus. Digital creative agency Wondersauce is making a second home at 445 N High St. in Short North.
“When we were thinking about how we wanted to scale the business, Columbus was something we had kind of always wanted to do,” says Founding Partner & COO Eric Mayville, a Westerville native.
Mayville headed to NYC after graduating from Ohio University, not finding a good fit for the kind of work he wanted to do in Columbus. There he would meet John Sampogna, another of the founding partners. The two decided to branch out on their own, finding they wanted to do things a little bit differently than the traditional agency. Another Ohio native living in San Francisco, Seth Klassen, would join the mix, rounding out the founding partners, with Executive Creative Director Brett Waszkelewicz taking post shortly thereafter.
Over a four-year span Wondersauce has expanding from a two-man team to a 50-person office in NYC – and has accumulated more employees with ties to the buckeye state. The team considered other locations for their second office but found Columbus to be the best fit. The market isn’t over saturated and close proximity to a number of universities means a pipeline of talent. And, there’s the opportunity to be part of a community.
“We’re just really looking forward to finding the ways we can impact the creative community and really be a part of it,” Mayville says.
One other comment really tipped the scales towards Columbus. During their search, Mayville heard, “You know I like to describe Columbus as a startup because it’s something that’s moving so fast and reinventing itself. It’s lean enough that it can zig and zag and move.”
Wondersuaces NYC and Columbus will have the same suite of services offering help with strategy assessments, user experience, design, technology and social strategy. Mayville says they didn’t just want to do ad campaigns or design banner ads, but create things that add value.
In all that they do, Wondersauce focuses on products that “can withstand the test of even digital time.” They are not an agency based on trends or gimmicks, but on tried and true practices that work.
“Simple is one of the hardest things to do,” Mayville adds.
There’s three main areas in which the agency finds themselves creating – publishing, brand experience and e-commerce.
For publishing, “We really take into consideration the publication flow,” Mayville says, and they try to create a superb online experience that matches the print experience. On their e-commerce platforms, it’s a detailed roadmap, helping with everything from when and how many products a company should release, to how the site will work and the engine it’s built on, to all the branding.
It’s likely that Wondersauce will work with their first Columbus client, t-shirt retailer Homage, on their e-commerce platform. It’s a partnership they are excited about.
“They really exude what we look for in clients,” Mayville says. It’s the Ohio born, Ohio raised loyalty that intrigues them. Mayville says they have a list of about 70 other Columbus-based companies they would love to work with, including well-known brands like Jeni’s. They are also aiming for the publishing market.
“We want to find a Columbus or Midwest-based publishing project we would get a chance to work on,” he adds.
Wondersauce Columbus should be up and running by March first. Mayville says they have already made a few hires but, “We’re hoping it will be 10-15 within the first year.” The firm is hiring all manner of positions including product management, a hybrid between account and project management, designers and developers.
Mayville is looking forward to bringing their easy to understand style of business to Columbus, a factor he says sets them apart from other agencies.
“We speak in a way that doesn’t confuse, that doesn’t talk down, and that’s how we operate through the entire process,” he says. But there’s one other thing too.
“And we have a weird name that people don’t ever forget,” Mayville says.