Mecenato is two months shy of the first birthday and we have tons to share

Our very public experiment of crafting what could be the next generation of a communications agency is now ten months old. So in the best “Lean Startup” fashion, I’d like to take you through the assumptions, learnings and validations that we have collected so far.

Here we go:

Physical presence is still necessary;

No Skype, Google Hangout, BBM or WhatsApp will ever solve that. Unless your portfolio is smoking hot and your recommendations come from the best brands in the world, no client will ever start a relationship with you without a strong referral, a lunch, a meeting or a chat over coffee. Conferences play a role here. It’s good to meet potential clients, and you can also use it as a place to gather your remote team for a get together.

Track your cash flow at all times;

The length of the runway, it’s called. Target Monthly Revenue (TMR) andCash Burn Rate (CBR) are probably the most important things we’ve learned so far. Every maker or entrepreneur out there should get to know these things. Check ‘The Personal MBA’ book for a quick introduction to these topics.

Less anxiety, more work, please;

With ultimate freedom comes ultimate anxiety. It’s very hard to deal with this one. We are still learning.

Yet, clients are ready if you are;

You’d think that clients would find it hard to trust an agency that doesn’t have an office, with a staff they can’t see or control. You’d be wrong. Clients are pretty much like meat eaters. They don’t want to see the slaughtering, they just want the juicy steak! As long as you have a good value and show them the goods (at or before the deadline), our experience is that the lack of all the rest has no negative effects on the perception of the agency. We’ve just done a complete interaction design job for a client in Saudi Arabia without ever hearing their voice. The work was entirely managed via a mix of Basecamp, email and our dedicated client area on our own website.

Working with agencies is still the quickest path to cash;

You call it freelacing. I call it interactive consulting. We would be talking about the same thing. Traditional advertising agencies have been our quickest path to cash by far, and working with them on interactive projects for their client’s list has been the easiest so far. The downside of it is that we build no public portfolio of our own. Yes, I do talk about the work we’ve done for Nike, Coke, Nokia, Emirates, HSBC in private meetings, but I can never publish these ideas as our own in our website. This is an issue.

I will be adding more insights and learnings as we go.


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