What do you do when you’re unexpectedly laid off? Many young professionals across a wide variety of industries have been met with this challenging question. For two ad agency co-workers, the answer seemed simple, “We figured that if no one was going to give us a job, we may as well make some ourselves” said Shaun Walker Founder and CEO of HERO|farm, a marketing strategy and design services agency.
Walker, and former co-worker, Reid Stone, Chief Strategist at HERO|farm, set off to combine their talents and launch a venture with a social mission and new thinking in mind for the ad industry. Learn how their innovation sparked competition and why you should never look back.
Founders: Shaun Walker and Reid Stone
Location: Metairie, Louisiana
Industry: Advertising & Marketing
Startup Year: 2009
Startup Costs: Undisclosed
How We Got Started
In March of 2007, I was hired by an ad agency after interning for them for 6 months, where I worked until being let go in November 2008.
A co-worker from that agency and I worked together for about a year and a half before being laid off during the height of the recession. Of course, whenever a recession happens, the first budget to be slashed is marketing. We felt the period’s effects far sooner than most.
Once laid off, we interviewed for a few available jobs, but no one was truly hiring – especially in our industry. We figured that if no one was going to give us a job, we may as well make some ourselves. It was at this point that we decided to combine our talents – I was a creative and he was in account management – and started HERO|farm in late 2008, a venture with a social mission and new thinking in mind for the ad industry. Just recently, numerous national articles describing similar situations for other members in the ad industry have been written.
Another company, led by individuals who are twice our age, is doing what HERO|farm began doing two years ago. Our model is revolutionary for the “dying” and fragmented ad industry, which is suffering tremendously still.
We also utilized our connections to start up with some clients and also hired several other former co-workers who had also been laid off, using them as our contract workers.
Best Success Story
We thoroughly enjoy the success of one of our clients, myPhoneMD, a smartphone repair & accessory company based in Louisiana that has been a vital partner since initial brand development in 2009.
In less than a year, myPhoneMD has expanded from two locations in Mandeville and Baton Rouge to include 4 other stores in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans and Charleston, South Carolina – with plans to grow even further nationally. Within the next 12 months, another 10 stores will be opened.
Biggest Startup Challenge
Consistency. Working in the advertising industry, especially during this economy, is tough. Companies, outside of mega brands like Coke, do not sign long-term contracts. Most jobs are on a project-to-project basis, which makes bringing in steady money difficult. This is a major challenge, although we have faced and continue to face several others.
#1 Tip for Entrepreneurs
Why wait for time when all it does is run? Whatever it is, do it and don’t look back.