4 Weeks At An Innovation Agency

The year is 2018.
Feb 10, I had my graduation ceremony.
Feb 11, my girlfriend went on a two month trip to visit her parents.
Feb 12, I started my first day working at On-Off Group.

It’s been 4 weeks since then I decided I want to document my journey working for a startup company. I think most people that I met in college would have expected me to go the classic corporate route. My course required me to take 1,500 hours of corporate internships — which is exactly what made me realize that I don’t want to work in a traditional corporate setting. An opportunity presented itself when an old friend who started at On-Off Group referred me to her boss, who was looking for a business development and sales guy. I’ve had experience in the field through my AIESEC days in college, so that was a good fit.

Brief company background: On-Off Group is a startup consulting firm specializing in Design Thinking and User Experience Design. It’s the only organization in the Philippines of its kind, offering companies human-centered design and innovation. We deliver organizational innovation though a series of private workshops and consultations. We also offer our workshops to the public.

I decided to write up some of the things I learned in the last 4 weeks about working for a consulting startup. Maybe I can inspire someone else to evaluate their life-goals and choose a path that’ll make them happy.

Here are my 4 week observations:

Pace.
The first thing I noticed was the pace. There was no “sit in this cubicle and read these 4 on-boarding manuals for the week” type of situation. From Day 1 I was sitting in on meetings, talking to the ops team, having meaningful conversations with everyone in the office, from the interns to the big boss. It was fast and I loved it. I hate sitting around without anything important to do.

Office culture.
The team is small and young. Our average age is definitely below 30 and it shows. The team is around 10–12 large, depending on the amount of interns at the time. There are no cubicles or desks — instead we have one long white-board desk. It fits all of us, and the surface is a white-board to take notes on and to iterate ideas with. It’s awesome, I’m looking for a way to get one of those for my own apartment. There’s pros and cons to the open-office culture (especially as a sales person when I need to jump on a call and people are discussing things) but that’s what we have the lounging area for. Everyone in the office knows each other well — there’s no moving between office floors to get something from HR, no random people that you don’t know and, best of all, no awkward lunches.

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Our awesome whiteboard desk featuring our UX team working their asses off!

 

Pay.
I was kind of expecting to be underpaid working for a startup, to be honest. I’m in Business Development so my other assumption was that I’d be almost entirely paid on commission — and to my pleasant surprise, I was wrong. I’m actually getting paid quite a bit more than my peers with similar job descriptions. Speaking of…

Job Description.
My JD is pretty simple, at least on paper. I’m meant to sell our services and help build the company’s sales/CRM process from pretty much the ground-up, systems-wise at least. Despite that, I often find myself doing plenty of other things, from re-designing pitching decks to acting as a tester for a client’s usability tests. Sometimes I act as a devil’s advocate for new ideas and sometimes I’m helping out on things that interest me that are completely unrelated to sales. I get to choose how I spend my time freely, in and outside my JD.

Flexibility.
“If you don’t need to be in the office, don’t be in the office,” is one of the simple rules we follow for the business development team. I work from home half the time because I’m only in the office if there’s a meeting I need to be apart of. It’s great — I can take calls and respond to emails from clients from the comfort of my home without the stress of commuting to Makati. And even while in the office, we can go down and get food or whatever we want at any given time. It’s the beauty of working with leaders that value culture and understand that you’ll perform at your best when you’re comfortable.

Purpose.
One of my biggest fears leaving college was that I’d be working with people who don’t give a shit. I’d seen it day in and day out in my corporate internships, hell, I’d even been like that. People working like drones just there for their paycheck. I’m really lucky to be working with people that believe in the company, product and most importantly, each other. I’d feel that even with the other factors mentioned above, this one was the one that pleasantly surprised me the most over the last 4 weeks.

I’m really curious what I’ll be experiencing in the next 4 weeks. So far the experience has been great and I’m enjoying my work.

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