Entrepreneurship, and Consulting — Stories on how to Build, Scale, and Grow Design Companies.

How do you stand out as a design agency in a field quickly becoming commoditized? How do you get clients when no one cares about you? How do you build a culture? Or hire the best talent when you’re competing against top industry companies?

After starting one company and scaling another, this page, and the articles listed below, are what I’ve written dedicated to answering all of those questions and much more. Not simply the successful decisions, but the difficult ones, the ones that failed, and the topics no one told me about.

Myself and a three cofounders started Raft in 2015, and during our brief four-year history we went from an office in a squatter space to building a multi-million euro company.

  • We handled research across the US and UK for Facebook on new consumer products from Building 8
  • We partnered with Elsevier on research, strategy, and design, to introduce new digital products and refine current products in their medical software portfolio
  • ING leveraged us within their Innovation Organisation to design products and run business initiatives over multiple years
  • MasterCard’s Pre-paid division worked with us to introduce user-centered thinking to their organisation
  • NS (The Dutch Railways) brought us in to drive their Innovation Organisation and Digital Train efforts including, at times, being product owner for their core consumer applications over the course of an ongoing three year relationship

After four years running Raft (2015–2019), we exited and joined argodesign, one of the top design agencies in the world alongside frog, IDEO, and Designit.

At argodesign (2019–2022), we unlocked an entirely new set of global experiences, challenges, and opportunities. We scaled the studio in Amsterdam and developed a larger pool of talent to help out client partners, we brought in more diverse leadership styles, and most important, we gained access to an amazing set of new clients including with IBM, Dreamworks, NBCU, HP, Maxeon, and many more.

After building one company in Raft, and scaling another in argo, in 2022 I left argo and joined Modernist to work for a third time in growing and scaling a design studio.

Look for more stories and lessons below as I begin a new period in my career!

Articles — Raft History and Lessons (2015–2018)

Articles — As argodesign Amsterdam (2019 —2022 )

Articles — Modernist (2022 — )

Claps are welcomed! We also have more articles on the story of Raft, a small Amsterdam design consultancy.
Instagram: the_kieselguhr_kid
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joefletcher2/

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