How to grow a global creative agency in record time

Small businesses face unique challenges when it comes to growth and scaling. From deciding which projects to take on and where to focus investment, to experiencing new scenarios and onboarding new employees on a regular basis, it can be a lot to navigate. But with the right strategies and tools in place, it’s possible to thrive. 

One business that has experienced exceptional growth over the last four years is Myth Studio, a London based creative agency that produces explainer videos, motion graphics, 3D animation, and corporate communications. Launched during the pandemic, Myth Studio grew from two to nine full time staffers in the space of 18 months, while working with some of the most recognisable global brands.

There are key ingredients to this speed of success. That’s why, Jimmy Gordon, Myth Studio’s Business Partnerships Director, has shared his insights into the agency’s business story, best practices, and what it takes to grow a small business in today’s competitive market. 

Can you tell us a bit about Myth Studio’s origin story?

Our founder, James Finley, was an experienced freelancer but always had the ambition to start a studio. Myth Studio emerged after he had built the connections and gained the necessary experience. Starting out in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, the early days were tough with a lot of uncertainty – as with any new creative agency – but we knew we had the expertise to succeed, and we’ve been growing ever since.

What was it like launching during the pandemic? What challenges and opportunities did you encounter?

Looking back, the pandemic was the perfect time to launch. The lack of live film meant the demand for animation and motion graphics accelerated. At the same time, there was also the huge shift towards remote working. Because we were just starting out, it meant that working collaboratively and remotely – and having the tech stack in place to do so globally – was built in from day one instead of having to adapt from traditional processes. Working in this way from day one, and using tools like Dropbox, has lowered the barrier of entry and allowed us to move more quickly.

Who was your first major client? And what lessons did you learn from that experience that you can share with others interested in having a similar trajectory?

Our first major client was working with a long-standing partner of ours now, Revolt, to work on a project for Budweiser which was to be shown at Cannes Festival. It came out of the blue from our freelancing connections, and we actually almost turned it down because the two- week turnaround time was going to be a true all-hands-on-deck situation.

But we knew we couldn’t say no to a brand like that on our portfolio, so we jumped in. It was a crazy couple of weeks, but we delivered, thanks in no small part to Dropbox, which enabled us to collaborate at speed across locations. My biggest advice would be to take risks and say yes to opportunities outside your comfort zone. You learn a lot and can spot opportunities and areas to strengthen your business.

How has the way the team collaborates, and work together changed with the agency’s growth?

As a studio, we bring a lot of personality and intuition into everything we do and are constantly assessing our ways of working to retain that. It’s an ongoing cycle of improvement around our systems and processes and we’re always experimenting with collaborative tools to ensure we’re using what’s best. Particularly regarding security and efficiency, because things like encryption and storage levels are paramount when working with bigger brands.

What is that like incorporating freelancers into your team’s existing structures and workflows?

Working with freelancers has been a really key part of our growth strategy. When you’ve got a big project that comes on, and maybe the scope is a bit bigger than you thought it would be, you might have to double the team size. That’s why we decided to augment the work of our nine full-time staffers with a wide network of highly skilled freelancers, so we can be flexible in how we ramp up our creativity with additional support.

But obviously, freelancers use different systems and they each work differently to one another – and in order for this to work, people need to be integrated amongst the team and everybody needs to be singing from the same hymn sheet. So, we had to make changes to how we work. We now have a good flow for onboarding in place that factors in the need for security. You can’t just share everything when working with larger corporations, after all!

That was the main reason we migrated to Dropbox Enterprise. Now we can control folder permissions and add two-factor authentication on shared folders. Dropbox Capture also allows us to create a video archive of our processes for onboarding freelancers and new team members so setting up is a much more seamless experience.

From brief to final product, how do you work together as a team and with the client?

We set out to make everything as streamlined as possible from the outset, and we include the client in that.

It starts with jumping on a briefing call to scope out the project. After following up with notes from the call to ensure nothing has been lost in translation, we then start collaborating to put together a proposal to send to the client.

Once the project kicks off, we’ll set up a Slack channel including the client for easy comms. If using freelancers, they’ll be onboarded onto our Dropbox, too. In terms of project stages, these can vary, but it usually starts with creating style frames and motion tests before moving into storyboarding and then production. Adding and receiving feedback is crucial here, which is why we use Dropbox Replay for feedback on our video content because it’s super easy for client stakeholders to jump in and provide feedback on a frame-by-frame basis and to compare iterations side by side.

With people working across lots of locations, rather than sharing a screen and risking talking through a film which we all know can lag, everyone involved can jump into their own version and all watch at the same time. Organised version control and integrations with other editing tools mean that Replay also enables us to turn around content and sign off final versions faster.

Lastly, we’ll always use Dropbox Transfer for sending final deliverables for a quick, easy and professional looking packaged look and feel.

Have you had to develop your working practices over time for collaborating with international clients? What tips do you have for others looking to expand their brand and client base internationally?

Two words: collaborative tools. Working between time zones can be beneficial. For example, with the US, you can deliver a film at end of day our time, the client reviews it overnight our time, and we can jump in to amend the next day. But having the right tools to make sure things don’t get missed is so important here. It’s why Replay (one of our producers’ favourite tools) are key. It allows multiple people to add feedback neatly and accurately in one place.

Whether working with international or local clients, it is about removing friction so everyone can focus on the work that matters rather than wasting time on admin. Whether that is Slack instead of long email chains, Google Meet for super quick call links, or Replay to remove any ambiguity on feedback on videos thanks to timestamps and annotated comments.

Do you have any final advice to other SMBs and creative agencies looking to accelerate their growth?

It’s all about relationships. People like working with good people who do good work, and to have fun – it gives them no reason to go elsewhere. Internally, it’s why we have a studio as well as remote work, to allow people the flexibility to get together. From a growth perspective, don’t be afraid to leverage the relationships you have built. We are proof that they open doors.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of arming your people with the right technology. By having the right tools in their hands, our people are able to execute business-defining work, without having to be in the same room or on the same time zone.

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