Why Build an Agency in Chicago?


In August of 2013, I set out with my dog Max (now our CMO) on a cross-country road-trip from Los Angeles to Chicago. I had spent the beginning of the year leading a comprehensive qual-based research project for Volkswagen while working at Deutsch LA. This research would later lead to a brief for and insights for the creation of a new VW.com. The real takeaway though was my experience in Chicago. I spent two weeks in the city in the middle of January and came away with a newfound appreciation and love for the city. Chicago felt like home – even if it hadn’t always been that way.

Upon arrival in the city (and a speeding ticket in Nebraska) I found that my feelings were validated. It also helped that I arrived in the midst of summer this time around. I entered into the freelance scene here in Chicago, plying my trade at Y&R Midwest, Blast Radius and mcgarrybowen before accepting a full-time role at MCD Partners. I met great people, learned tons and fully enjoyed my time here in the city – however, I still felt a yearning for something bigger, something worthy of calling my own.

During my time at MCD Partners, I met someone similar – someone who shared the desire and drive for something bigger and something where we could build something we could be both be proud of. This person was of course Ron Coalson, a Creative Director who is now my partner.

We created and are striving to live up to a company that matches our own individual ambitions outside of traditional agency life. This company is Hustlemore, a product and marketing agency with an emphasis on product creation, strategy and kick-ass creative. We’ve already proven the effectiveness of our process with partners like Innovative Express Care & Kaiser Tiger.

While most agency start-ups have been founded on the coasts – we sought to take what we had learned throughout our careers and deliver on an agency and a brand that matched up with values we saw on the streets and the businesses of Chicago: Hard work, humility and an insatiable hustle to take on what’s next.

We organized our agency and our model around 4 key concepts:

  1. People: While it’s almost cliche at this point? You can’t build an agency or a product without great people. You just can’t. Great talent leads to great opportunities.
  2. Perspective: The creative and products being designed on the coasts aren’t always designed or thought about with real people people in mind. We want to build real products for real people to solve real problems. No more of this…
  3. Technology: No new business/agency can start today without access to great technology partners, developers and expertise. We aim to build connections and partnerships with the best people. One of those is Tension Design.
  4. Opportunity: The Chicago start-up scene is underrated to a ridiculous degree. Resources like 1871, publications like BuiltinChicago and ChicagoInno showcase the best and brightest here and focus on sustainability and practicality rather than flashes in the pan.

We want to build our business for the long term and could think of no better city to build it then what we consider the foundation of America.

It is the city of broad shoulders after all.

We can’t wait to work with you.

Photo Credit: Bert Kaufmann

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *