Fell Swoop’s past, present, and future.
It all started in a windowless room in downtown Seattle next to a Chinese herbalist. The rent was $200 a month, and while the aforementioned room had a skylight, the landlord covered it up because, well, according to said landlord natural light is over-rated. From these humble beginnings, Matt Dente started Fell Swoop in 2008. He aimed to make a different kind of agency, one that balances the rigor of user-centered design with world-class creative and branding and puts a focus on service—both among employees and with clients. Matt’s vision has proven prescient, as Fell Swoop has grown from an agency of a few folks to over thirty five curious, collaborative professionals that offers the full creative lifecycle, from design to development, copywriting to production, ideation to creation, for clients such as Facebook, Time Inc., The New Yorker, People Magazine, and Microsoft Windows. Here’s a shot of the Fell Swoop crew:
Seven years is a lifetime in the world of tech, and agencies that don’t match their vision with the changing needs of business fall away. How does Matt think that his vision for Fell Swoop has dovetailed with the business climate? “More and more since our inception,” he says, “our clients have grown to appreciate transparency. They want less formality and more bang for the buck. Involvement in the design process is something clients deeply value—and demand.” Finding this balance between autonomy and collaboration is what gave birth to the Clarity Lab, our three-day, client-intensive workshop, as well as a general workflow approach that operates within an agile, sprint-based framework. “It’s all about evolving to find ways to invite our clients into the design process at every opportunity,” Matt comments, “which in turn increases our value by placing a premium on partnership.” As the agency has grown, so have our capabilities; in addition to digital design, we’ve expanded our offerings to include global social media strategy, content production, app design and development.
While process and collaboration are essential parts of the agency puzzle, no amount of it will add up to client satisfaction without smart, talented people behind the curtain. Of course, Seattle’s expansion and higher business profile mean recruiting only gets more difficult by the day: “It’s always difficult to find great people,” Matt says, “but when you’re competing with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and every other hot tech company, it’s a tough game.” What’s the answer? Create a culture that’s as appealing as it is efficient. “From the start I’ve always put emphasis on creating a great experience for staff.” With six weeks of PTO, profit sharing, great benefits, and a premium placed on work-life balance, Fell Swoop is truly competitive for talent. “I want our agency to be the kind of place that I always wanted to work at when I was younger.” Another aspect of a satisfying work culture is having a killer office space, and our recent move to Pioneer Square, conveniently located near CenturyLink Field, gives us an environment conducive to doing great work and harmoniously collaborating.
It’s these elements—service, creative smarts, and culture—that make the digital agency of the future.
And no, natural light is not over-rated.