DO WE STILL COUNT AS A STARTUP?

Updated: Oct 6


On October 2, 2017, we came together as a trio. Since then, we’ve moved once, expanded our office and added five more members to our team.

Three years later and we’re nowhere near huge. We’re still relatively unknown other than to you, our loyal blog post reader. And we continue to approach each project and client—no matter the size—as if the future of our agency depends on it. Maybe that’s because it does.

So where does that put us? Are we still the new kids on the 2000 block of Cherokee? Doubtful. Are we getting ready to issue an IPO? Not quite.

But we’re also not building every estimate from scratch and scrambling to figure out if we should lease or buy a printer after our hand-me-down crashed and earned a Viking funeral off our second floor deck. (That’s a true story no one cares to hear more about.)

While we may not have “made it” just yet, we do think it’s time to reflect on some of the milestones we’ve hit over the course of this three-year whirlwind that has been both unpredictable and everything we could’ve hoped.

October 2017—clocked in for day one at a card table, thanks to the generosity of our friends at Greenleaf Procurement


December 2017—sent out our first Darling holiday gift just before the deadline, socks of course


February 2018ruptured a pipe in our new office by hanging a toilet paper holder in the exact wrong spot


July 2018—our first intern bravely joins us, with about as much experience as we had at the time


October 2018—launched a beer on behalf of three of our clients (took long enough)


February 2019—our first full-time employee jumps on board to add creative depth and range


March 2019—first run of Darling t-shirts

April 2019—witnessed a couple of our characters throw out the first pitch at Busch Stadium


May 2019—conducted the first Darling cocktail competition, the results of which are hotly contested to this day


June 2019—splashed down at The Lake of the Ozarks with the entire extended family, including 7 kids, two grandparents, a fiancé and our three angel investors, Toni Edinger, Leslie Rodick and Sarah Padberg


July 2019—feral garage cat heroically spayed by an art director


September 2019—Flash Rodick makes his first advertising appearance on a billboard with a life-size photo

October 2019—turned the tables by outfitting our friends at The Watering Bowl with Darling t-shirts


November 2019—welcomed our second employee who we stole from another industry

December 2019—converted the upstairs apartment into more office


January 2020—brought in a data strategist and 3-time chili cook-off champion

February 2020—took on temporary employment at Toppers Pizza and won our first gold ADDY


February 2020—transplanted a writer shortly before sending everyone to work from home for an undetermined period of time


April 2020—hung a sign on our building

June 2020—survived our first Darling camping trip


October 2020—Welcoming our 8th teammate


A lot has happened, but we still like to think of ourselves as lean and nice. We want to remain hungry and able to choose our own adventure. And in this moment, 3+ years after launching, we’re looking around like Wayne and Garth flashing backstage passes while we are in fact backstage.

As we’ve grown, we have been fortunate to receive support, likes, shares and referrals from countless friends, family and colleagues. We appreciate it more than you can ever know. Thank you for getting us off the ground, and please continue to root for us as if we’re still brand new.

So, if it’s okay with everyone, we’ll keep referring to ourselves as a startup as long as we’re scrappy and slightly startled when the office phone rings.