How I started my agency: Anshey from Verbal + Visual
Hi Anshey! Can you give us a quick intro?
I’m Anshey, founder and CEO at Verbal + Visual. We are a digital product studio with a focus on the intersection of e-commerce and sustainability. Our mission is to work with purpose-driven brands to design, build, and scale their eCommerce presence.
And how did you get here?
At the beginning of my career, I worked at an agency for a few years and after that as a standalone freelancer.
So in terms of getting Verbal+Visual off the ground, it really started from years and years of personal experience in design, development, project management, accounting and everything else it takes to run a business as an independent.
And then at one point, I decided to make my business larger than just me. And 13 years later, here we are!
Fantastic. Tell me about the 13 years: Were there distinct points of growth? Or is it all one steady slope upwards?
It's definitely had a lot of ups and downs. Building a business is not linear at all. Even today in December 2022, the industry is seeing a pretty drastic market shakeup. So the ups & downs never end!
But really there have been 3 key phases at Verbal + Visual.
- The first was from 2009-2014. That’s when we started tapping into eCommerce and setting the true foundations for V+V.
- Next was the phase of growth from 2014-2021, which is when we truly established ourselves as one of the leading design and development agencies within the Shopify Plus community. And today - we’re entering a new phase.
- From 2022 onwards, it’s really about establishing longer term relationships with key enterprise-level partners and merchants to become a strategic partner for growth, not just an execution-led business.
Let’s chat about your team structure: Is everybody remote?
We follow a hybrid model. We're a distributed team, but we have our HQ in New York and satellite offices in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
And regardless of where you’re at in the world, we work on the same timezone: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST, Monday through Thursday - with Friday half days.
Our employees have ultimate flexibility to work from anywhere, but need to be online during those hours. And that’s because there’s 35 of us and our work is highly collaborative - so we need to be in sync.
Let’s discuss resource utilization: How does that work for you?
We have a resourcing model. Producers are in charge of requesting resources for a particular project, and we assign resources based on people’s availability.
The great thing for us is that, in addition to having an all-star full-time roster, we can also leverage Storetasker to bring on talented individuals on a flexible basis if we’re over-capacity.
Very interesting. And what does that resourcing model actually look like?
We use a tool called Forecast for resourcing. Intake forms from producers feed information into it and our head of operations + our producers review the input and make the decisions on how to resource projects.
In essence, every human resource is broken down into hours - and when we’re resourcing projects, we make sure to account for every billable hour. Of course, we’re not assuming that our employees are working flat 40 hour weeks heads-down, so instead we consider only 32 hours per week as billable per employee.
That buffer keeps our margins and healthy work-life balance in check.
What’s one thing you did NOT get right in the beginning of Verbal+Visual?
We didn't specialize from the outset. It took us years to really specialize within eCommerce, into Shopify. We ultimately got there, but it took us 5 years. I wish we could have gotten there sooner, but there’s no looking back, only forward!
Last question: What's been your key to success on Verbal+Visual?
Our key to success has been care. Care for our clients, care for our people, our work and care for the environment. Infusing that into our ethos and into our culture has been huge.