Episode #46 | 3 Lessons Creative Agencies & Freelancers Can Learn From Tech Startups

Sam speaks with Creative Agency Founder and former classmate at the University of Colorado, Jake Hurwitz. Jake shares the story of how he came to start Thursday Labs, a Creative Agency specializing in the startup space, and Sam & Jake dig into three lessons freelancers and creative businesses can learn from startups when it comes to growth. Together, Sam & Jake discuss:

  • Why sharing performance data like ROI, impressions, or new customers will help you win more clients
  • Why internal systems for tracking, reporting, and producing deliverables are critical to long-term growth
  • Why customer experience is the only REAL way to stand out from competitors

Watch the full episode:

3 Lessons Creative Agencies & Freelancers Can Learn From Tech Startups | #45 ft. Jake Hurwitz

Listen to the episode:

Episode transcription:

[00:00:00] Jake Hurwitz: So I thought, I need to make some money, like real money, and I gotta get a job.

[00:00:03] Jake Hurwitz: Just thinking about it then when I was 22 made me nauseous. I really just didn’t want to get a job. But I got a call one day right around that time from this guy in Boulder who’s like, Hey, I’m pretty new to town.

[00:00:13] Jake Hurwitz: I want to build a venture studio, a startup studio. I had no idea what it was. He’s like, well, we have a $30 million venture capital fund, but what makes us different as a studio is we build all of our own companies in-house. we actually. Do the MVPing and the validation, and we fund them versus a typical venture capital fund, which would just invest in outside companies and hope that they grow.

[00:00:34] Jake Hurwitz: And he is like, I need somebody to be in charge of everything marketing. And I heard you’re the guy in town to do that. So I came on board as the VP of branding, my job was basically for every company that we were starting, I was in charge of building the website, coming up with a name, doing the logo, creating the brand guidelines in the deck and building the initial thing.

[00:00:52] Sam Chlebowski: Having done that now for one single product, when you are doing the marketing, you’re doing the branding, you’re doing the website, you are doing it all for a product that if it exists at all, it’s in its earliest stages and things are gonna rapidly change.

[00:01:07] Sam Chlebowski: Doing that for one just company – it is so much work. I can’t even imagine doing it for multiple companies and multiple products at one.

[00:01:14] Jake Hurwitz: Totally, totally. Well, you know what it was, it forced me to come up with a system. we had to develop a whole playbook and a framework to handle that.

[00:01:21] ​Intro Music Plays

[00:01:30] Sam Chlebowski: Happy Thursday everybody, and welcome back to Designing Growth. Sam Chlebowski here, Co-founder of Motion.io and host of this podcast joining you again.

[00:01:41] Sam Chlebowski: Jake Hurwitz, founder of Thursday Labs. How you doing man?

[00:01:45] Jake Hurwitz: I’m good. How are you doing?

[00:01:46] Sam Chlebowski: I’m doing good, man. It’s Friday. Things are going good. We did a bunch of work on our product this week it’s been a really exciting time for us [email protected]. Just a heap of new features coming to the platform and that’s always fun, man. So yeah, things are good. How about you?

[00:02:01] Jake Hurwitz: Good. Things are great. I mean, look, it’s, been a wild couple of years, so it’s easy to be like, oh, you know, we’re stressed, we’re hanging in there. Everyone’s having a hard time in the market. Overall, I’d say life is good, man. keeping it positive, trying a lot of new ways to build relationships with companies right now in a weird time when everything, how we sell, how we build relationships, it’s all changing really fast.

[00:02:19] Jake Hurwitz: And what we’re selling, what we’re doing with companies, it’s all changing really fast. So it’s been difficult for a lot of people including us and candidly dealing with that, navigating it. And so, things are good, but like, we’re grinding. Dude, I’m under the gun right now.

[00:02:31] Sam Chlebowski: The things that the market have been doing, you know, general buyer, sentiment has been really hard for a lot of companies out there, especially if you are anybody in the tech or tech adjacent space, But it was interesting, like when all of this stuff started to really come to a head, I think about six months ago or so, when the inflation/recession panic was at an all time high.

[00:02:52] Sam Chlebowski: It scared the living daylights out of me, especially as like a new company I actually had listened to a couple of different podcasts, a couple different voices in the, SaaS tech space who were saying like, Hey, now’s actually a decent time to start a company because if you can find funding or you can fund something yourself, you’re gonna have less competitions as long as you can stay lean, as long as you can move fast, get your whatever, product, service, et cetera, get it to market. And there’s an opportunity there. But either way, despite any opportunity, it’s still terrifying.

[00:03:24] Jake Hurwitz: Yeah, absolutely, I would even maybe gently push back and say – this is the best time – not a decent time. This is the best time to start a company.

[00:03:32] Sam Chlebowski: I do too, honestly, and I don’t even know why I tried to tiptoe into that and I think it took me some time to get to that point, and maybe you’re just seeing me get to that point in real time right now. But yeah, I’m seeing what’s going on and I’m like, okay, now is your opportunity to stand out in what is almost always every single month of every single year.

[00:03:51] Sam Chlebowski: One of the most crowded markets in existence and things open up. There’s these little glimmers of opportunity in there, and if you find one and chase [00:04:00] it, go all in.

[00:04:00] Jake Hurwitz: Totally man. It’s a thing.

[00:04:01] Sam Chlebowski: So I would love to just take a step back here for just a second and talk about what you’ve been up to, because. For the listeners out there, Jake and I actually were classmates at the University of Colorado Boulder. we weren’t super close but we had met a couple of times I reached out to him the other day, reconnected and I’ve been seeing the content you’re.

[00:04:23] Sam Chlebowski: Putting out, but I don’t know, the journey that you’ve been on the last couple of years, basically since moving away from Colorado, going to New York. And I would love to just hear your story, what have you been doing up until this point, and then tell me what you’re doing at Thursday Labs right now.

[00:04:38] Jake Hurwitz: Totally. It’s a very windy, kind of long story. I’ll try to make it as exciting as possible without, sharing, a 20-minute story here. So when we met, we were in college and I started a creative agency when I was 18. It was like the, at the middle of my freshman year of college.

[00:04:54] Jake Hurwitz: It was pretty straightforward, it was 2013, 2014 – Techstars was blowing up in Boulder. A lot of people from the Bay Area and New York and Boston, other big cities were coming to Boulder and Denver to build their startups in the front range.

[00:05:09] Jake Hurwitz: that was the birth of the Colorado startup ecosystem from my perspective, really. And the problem though that existed on the marketing and creative side was yes, there were quite a few agencies in town. Big boys. You probably know like Crispin Porter Bogusky, Made Movement.

[00:05:25] Jake Hurwitz: I mean, they were big agencies. They were awesome.

[00:05:27] Sam Chlebowski: I worked inside Crispin Porter Bogusky as an intern actually in school. Boulder is just like such an entrepreneurial town. It’s crazy. I’ve never been to another place like it, and can’t think of another place outside of SF or New York.

[00:05:38] Jake Hurwitz: I had a strange perspective on it though, I’m from New York and I’m kind of used to growing up in this world where you’ve got agencies and companies and they could actually afford to work with each other and they’re neighbors like literally they’re on the same block.

[00:05:51] Jake Hurwitz: But in Boulder that wasn’t happening. You had companies like CPB – agencies who were working with clients like Lyft and Burger King out of whatever other city they were in, and [00:06:00] all the startups which made up like all of downtown in Boulder couldn’t work with any of the local agencies cuz they were way too big and expensive.

[00:06:06] Jake Hurwitz: So their alternative was to go hire an intern from the university for like 50 bucks a week. And they sucked because they’re like low level talent and they’re, these are venture-backed companies that needed really good websites, great product design, great advertising and marketing. They needed to tell a story and they were doing none of that.

[00:06:27] Jake Hurwitz: So the space that I chose to build in, and it was awesome. Was, let’s start an agency that these startups could actually afford. Let’s own the market of all the startups here now for someone in their late teens, early twenties. That makes a lot of sense. Like we were making a couple grand a week, which was amazing for us as college kids.

[00:06:46] Jake Hurwitz: Can’t really live off that anymore, as now being much older than that. But at the time it, it was a great start. So I really fell in love with the startup scene and the marketing and creative side of the startup scene during those years. I consider them. I mean, it was college. So for a lot of people, like your college years are your very formative years in your career.

[00:07:04] Jake Hurwitz: These years were so formative for me in my career in so many ways. I started to build my network. I learned how to network. I fell in love with tech and, and entrepreneurship and venture capital. the startup scene in general, and it all happened in Boulder. During those years, I got kind of tired of working with clients as I was getting older.

[00:07:21] Jake Hurwitz: I was, I think my senior year in college. And decided to build a startup. So raised a bit of money from some, some local angels in town built this ed tech startup and worked on it for about a year and a half. Failed. It was an amazing journey. Learned how to raise some money and like how to build up product versus building a company where I work on many other people’s products.

[00:07:41] Jake Hurwitz: was also then going through a really difficult breakup and the company shut down and Had graduated from college not long ago, so it was in a pretty dark place, first time in my life where I just felt really lost. And so I thought, I need to make some money, like real money and I gotta get a job.

[00:07:55] Jake Hurwitz: just thinking about it then when I was 22, maybe nauseous. I really just didn’t want to get a job. [00:08:00] But I got a call one day right around that time from this guy in Boulder who’s like, Hey, I’m pretty new to town.

[00:08:04] Jake Hurwitz: I want to build a venture studio, a startup studio. I had no idea what it was. He’s like, well, we have a $30 million venture capital fund, but what makes us different as a studio is we build all of our own companies in house. we actually. Do the MVPing and the validation, and we fund them and then we spin them off and, let them grow from there, versus a typical venture capital fund, which would just invest in outside companies and hope that they grow.

[00:08:28] Jake Hurwitz: And he is like, I need somebody to be in charge of everything marketing. And I heard you’re the guy in town to do that. So I came on board as the VP of branding, and my job was basically for every company that we were starting, I was in charge of building the website, coming up with a name, doing the logo, like creating the brand guidelines in the deck and building the initial thing.

[00:08:47] Sam Chlebowski: having done that now for one single product, when you are doing the marketing, you’re doing the branding, you’re doing the website, you are doing it all for a product that if it exists at all, it’s in its earliest stages and things are gonna rapidly change.

[00:09:02] Sam Chlebowski: doing that for one company. Holy shit. It is so much work. I can’t even imagine doing it for multiple companies and

[00:09:11] Jake Hurwitz: Totally, totally. Well, you know what it was, it forced me to come up with a system. I’m like, all right, you know, let’s say first quarter we’re working on one company, and then we start the next company in q2, and then the next company in q3. At first you’re like, all right, great. I could do one thing per quarter.

[00:09:26] Jake Hurwitz: Then I quickly realized like the one that you started in Q1 doesn’t just go away in q2. Now I work on two in q2. I’m halfway through the first one and starting the second one, and then Q3 rolls around and I’m starting the third one. So now I’ve got three to work on. By the time you’re in, like year four, q2, there’s 15 projects to work on.

[00:09:45] Jake Hurwitz: So I had to build a system and a team to like hand off things like a factory. So over time, as we grew and the studio matured and we had like 10, 15 companies in the portfolio that we had built, all of them, sure, some had like matured and we weren’t working on them [00:10:00] every day, but we still were involved in some capacity.

[00:10:02] Jake Hurwitz: I had to, we had to develop a whole playbook and, and a framework to, to handle that. That is the studio model. So that was like part two. Part three is we were really struggling as a studio to raise money for our ventures. From outside investors to raise LP dollars for the studio itself. Cause we had our own fund and we wanted to raise fund too, and we were really having a hard time getting entrepreneurs to come and join the startups that we were building.

[00:10:30] Jake Hurwitz: It was just a new thing for everybody. No one understood the economics. LPs like barely even understood venture capital as a two and 20 standard model, let alone. This new thing that we were doing, which had a different economic makeup and entrepreneurs were just like, so are you an accelerator or are you a fund?

[00:10:47] Jake Hurwitz: And we’re like, well, we’re we kind of flavors of both? So we figured out the solution to this was to first identify who are all the other studios around the world. We’re not competing with each other. Like what would we be competing for? Ideas like didn’t matter. And then start talking to them and be like, well, how do you guys raise money?

[00:11:04] Jake Hurwitz: How do you guys attract entrepreneurs? We needed to build a community of all the studios to connect with each other and help each other become a great studio. So my team and I started the Global Startup Studio Network in 2017, 2018, It first started as a Slack channel. It was before the phrase digital community was a thing, not to be like we were the first digital community.

[00:11:27] Jake Hurwitz: We were early, but we didn’t have a phrase for it. We were just like, join our Slack channel and we’ll talk about anything that’s troubling us. and then it, quickly blew up. So we identified about 80 studios around the world, and within about two weeks, we had 67 join the Slack channel. So, turns out we all had this same problem and we needed to meet each other to solve the problem.

[00:11:46] Jake Hurwitz: We started asking the better studios to lead round tables and give talks for the more emerging ones so that we could learn and everyone was learning a lot really quickly. Then, long story short, uh, we ended up selling GSSN to GaN – the Global Accelerator Network. GAN was down the street in Denver.

[00:12:07] Jake Hurwitz: They’re a global consortium basically, of all the accelerators. In the world. And they probably had like, I think a thousand or 2000 in their network at the time. And we basically helped them open their eyes to see studios as being the next big asset class like accelerators. So we sold the company. So that was essentially my first exit.

[00:12:25] Jake Hurwitz: It wasn’t a life-changing exit, but it was wonderful enough for me to like take a second to figure out what I wanted to do next. at the same time that we sold GSSN. Myself and a few other folks, you know, the co-founders of the organization. We wrote the first white paper on the startup studio model, and that was the initial like, Hey world, this is what a startup studio is.

[00:12:49] Jake Hurwitz: This is what it’s not, this is how you can engage with it if you are one of the various stakeholders, various calls to action from there. And I always just thought of it as like, this should be just a long blog post, but it’s too long for a blog post, so let’s make it a nicely designed PDF and call it a white paper.

[00:13:04] Jake Hurwitz: And then I like press publish and walked away. Didn’t really think much of it. No one paid me to do it, just thought it should be out there. then I moved back to New York and over the next couple of months, I started getting more and more and more emails and texts and calls from people Hey, Jake, I’m Soandso from Portugal, or I’m Soandso from Charlotte, North Carolina.

[00:13:25] Jake Hurwitz: Like every corner of the world. People were reaching out and saying like, Hey, I am starting a new studio. I Googled startup studios and I found GSSN, and I read your white paper and I saw that you wrote it. Can you help me build my studio? I was like, okay. I spent the next two years or so working with about a hundred studios all over the world.

[00:13:44] Jake Hurwitz: some were like small, take a few calls and help us understand like how to raise money or how to talk to investors. And some were huge, like come on board for six months as our head of whatever our advisor and like help us actually build the playbook, build the docs, build the ecosystem, build the website, do the whole [00:14:00] thing.

[00:14:00] Jake Hurwitz: So I learned a lot about venture capital during that time. had helped quite a few studios raise money and, and move money. And I really loved it. And then Covid hit and I went back to Colorado to get out of New York for a little while. basically brought my monthly expenses down to like, under a thousand dollars a month, which really wish I could do that now.

[00:14:19] Jake Hurwitz: I’ve gotta figure out ways to do that now. But, I moved to a small mountain town about an hour west of Denver called Silverthorne. I’m gonna lock myself. In this house for the next year, and I am going to do nothing but build my own startup studio now and raise money for it on the internet and then snowboard and mountain bike in the, like, one free hour a day that I can, so that I don’t drive myself too crazy. So I did that. it was an interesting year. It was a very safe and productive way to spend covid. I would say, uh, it was tough, but it it got us to the next level. the interesting thing, long story short, was I had a hard time raising for my own studio. Even though I was the guy who helped build so many other studios, I didn’t really have a track record of myself being a wildly successful exited founder, and I did not have a track record of being a wildly successful investor with an audited portfolio.

[00:15:09] Jake Hurwitz: Those are the core ingredients that a new studio needs. But I did have this great track record at helping new studios that were founded by those types of people get started. with my co-founders at the time. We shifted the whole philosophy and and thesis to. Becoming the first fund of funds to invest in new studios.

[00:15:27] Jake Hurwitz: So what does that mean for those who are listening who don’t fully understand or know much about how venture capital works behind the scenes, venture capital funds are funded by LPs, which are limited partners. Those are often like pension funds or university funds or, or very rich individuals, high net worth individuals who have like hundreds of millions of dollars or family offices.

[00:15:48] Jake Hurwitz: So we wanted to be one of the LPs that would invest in the best new venture studios. And after like, I don’t know, three months of doing that word kind of got [00:16:00] out, I got a call from a bigger company who, uh, was really blowing up. They were like the, the unicorn of all unicorns of the year.

[00:16:07] Jake Hurwitz: Um, if anyone looks at my LinkedIn, they’ll know who that was. They were basically like, would you be interested in leaving your partners and do that here? and they sent me an offer I like, could not refuse. It was a really hard decision. I’m 25 or 26. here I am like trying to raise tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. For a thing that no one’s ever heard of during a global pandemic.

[00:16:27] Jake Hurwitz: Like even saying that out loud, I laugh at myself for how, how insane it was, but like, what else was I gonna do? Fucking freelance on Upwork? Like, no, I wanted to do something crazy and monthly expenses were so low. So anyway, I took that gig and. The market like really took off at that point. This was right around after the vaccines came out and people started to move back to their cities, and venture was just like unleashed and money was just everywhere.

[00:16:52] Jake Hurwitz: And I’m glad I took the gig, even though I only lasted at that new company for about three months. It took about six months to like clear my head and just think like, what do I really want to do here?

[00:17:02] Jake Hurwitz: Like, I was feeling like by the day I was becoming more and more of a finance guy. But if you look back to like where it all started for me, like I’m a marketing guy. I’m a creative guy. I’m a content guy. I’m a storytelling guy. if I have 12 hours of productive time in a day, like I wanna spend.

[00:17:16] Jake Hurwitz: Six to 10 of them in like Photoshop and Figma and Premier and social media. I don’t wanna spend six to 10 of those hours in Excel. And that’s what I found myself doing. So I was just kind of miserable. So I took some time off. I spent all my time like again, advising a few new studios, doing a lot of jiujitsu, and cooking a lot of foods, like being healthy.

[00:17:37] Jake Hurwitz: So, Found myself then with an opportunity to join a startup called Day one as the cmo. So I then spent a year doing that and it was still in the space of like proliferating entrepreneurs and, and doing venture capital and all that. but I was getting then back to my initial roots of being a marketer and a builder and like building a thing.

[00:17:55] Jake Hurwitz: And I wanted to try just like building one thing again versus helping many others building things. And I [00:18:00] did not want to raise a fund, let alone raise anything at the time. I was really burnt out from it. So, yeah, joined day one as CMO. Was there for about a year until the market crashed and that then led me to Thursday Labs.

[00:18:13] Jake Hurwitz: So I’ll kind of leave you with this little cliffhanger before you probably ask the next question, like what’s Thursday Labs all about? We’re trying to be the agency that like actually produces ROI and Every other agency out there is like, oh, like we’re not really sure how successful this could be, but like, it’ll probably help. we like to be an agency that actually brings revenue.

[00:18:29] Sam Chlebowski: First off, what a USP man that is like buttoned up and bulletproof. I really like that. the agency that actually brings in roi. It’s like so easy to say kudos.

[00:18:39] Jake Hurwitz: I’m sure you’ve noticed it too. Like you talk to marketers and agencies and you’re like, alright, if I’m gonna spend, you know, 50 grand on this, what’s it gonna produce for us? What does everyone say? I don’t know.

[00:18:46] Sam Chlebowski: I just mentioned this, in our Slack channel, there’s like this whole thing with marketing. Where when you approach a agency or a studio, they tend to advertise like the, back of the toilet paper packaging where it’s like 16 rolls equals 24 rolls, and you’re like, what does this mean?

[00:19:03] Sam Chlebowski: And marketers, I think a lot of times, especially when they’re coming outside, they’re not internal to the company, they can pitch a very same thing. It’s like this investment means this roi, and it’s like, how are we gonna get there?

[00:19:14] Sam Chlebowski: They don’t know the specifics of that, or they can’t break down. Like, here’s what your conversions are gonna look like.

[00:19:19] Sam Chlebowski: Here are your conversion sources. Here are the things that we’re gonna be doing to generate a, marketing strategy that is going to consistently fill all aspects of the funnel. And it’s like,

[00:19:30] Sam Chlebowski: it feels like people can’t answer that.

[00:19:32] Jake Hurwitz: and, and I, and I was dealing with it like, first of all, my first agency, I was that guy. I didn’t know what I was doing. People were like, all right, if you’re gonna charge me 10 k. What should I expect to see in a month and six months? And I, I always just would say well, it’s hard to tell.

[00:19:47] Jake Hurwitz: I can’t answer that for you. You’re asking the wrong questions. And then I wouldn’t land the business and I’d get frustrated that all these clients out there were not smart enough or like, didn’t understand it. No, no. That was my fault. That was on me. And then I [00:20:00] went and started working with all these agencies and they were all doing the same thing.

[00:20:02] Jake Hurwitz: I was like, What is happening here, is, no one listening to the client is no one listening to the customer. That’s what we gotta do. So now that I’m back in agency world, I ask a few questions or quite a few questions. We have a strategy and then I figure out like, can this strategy even work for what they sell, and how much.

[00:20:18] Jake Hurwitz: Revenue they get per unit and what is a unit? And then we run it and I’ll never ever advise them to spend a dollar unless it brings at least $2 back. it’s just that simple.

[00:20:26] Sam Chlebowski: Amen. I think what’s especially interesting about your story and kind of where you are now is. We talk with a lot of creative agencies on the show, design agencies, advertising agencies, digital marketers, but I think you’re the first guest that I’ve spoken with that is specific to the startup space, and I think that there’s some things that you have shared that are kind of like the dogma within the startup space, but I don’t think it necessarily extends to other agencies out of there.

[00:20:56] Sam Chlebowski: One of the things that comes glaring to me is startup founders. CMOs, people who are working at startups, they’re hyper obsessed with the intersection of data and strategy, and being able to provide information about how those two things intersect is really, really useful for being able to confidently and effectively.

[00:21:17] Sam Chlebowski: Close those clients because I think that that’s something that sometimes gets overlooked. Even if you are, let’s say a small creative web design agency. You have, maybe a single employee work with you. You are doing one to two clients a month. the way that you can, close more deals is if you take that same mentality and say, so this is what building a new website with us can do for your business.

[00:21:40] Sam Chlebowski: We can’t give you any specific numbers on how much traction you will receive, but here’s what similar clients have. Experience with us in the past, if you can call those things out in your sales calls, in your emails, in your marketing copy, that’s gonna make you a much stronger candidate regardless of what types of businesses that you’re working with.

[00:21:59] Sam Chlebowski: [00:22:00] And I love how you bring this mentality as a founder of a creative agency. Because I think that there’s a lot that anybody else listening to this podcast who has a creative business in any shape or form can learn from.

[00:22:13] Jake Hurwitz: absolutely. It’s refreshing to chat with someone who gets it, so thank you.

[00:22:18] Sam Chlebowski: Well, we’re both in the startup space, it makes sense that we’re aligned a lot of things, I want to talk about too, with your background there were a lot of points in the way where you had either failures or missteps and hearing you retell this story, you are so confident and unafraid to.

[00:22:36] Sam Chlebowski: Not only talk about your failures, but talking about your skillset and where you were lacking. Taking a step back and kind of internalizing what your weaknesses are in a lot of ways can be just as powerful for your growth as that outright, confidence

[00:22:50] Jake Hurwitz: totally. I tie a lot of stuff to jujitsu. It’s kinda like being vegan or doing CrossFit. Like how will you know someone is vegan or is CrossFit? We’ll, they’ll tell you. Same with Juujitsu. We always talk about it. one of the things that I focus on a lot in my game and the Juujitsu players that I respect the most and learn from, meaning my coaches and professors or those that I follow online, they all kinda share the same strategy, which is like, first off, everyone will get to a point soon where they like really check their ego at the door.

[00:23:15] Jake Hurwitz: Whether it’s in your first class or your 10th class or your hundredth class, but like everyone gets there eventually. And that happened for me very quickly. It was like my third day and I’m a 200 pound six three man, and a 90 pound 13 year old girl tapped me like four times, like tapped me out four times in like a five minute round. and that is very humbling and really makes you check your ego. One of the things that I learn a lot is these high level players will roll with. a white belt, a blue belt, someone who’s a lot more beginner and completely check their ego and let themselves get into very dangerous, vulnerable positions that 99%.

[00:23:49] Jake Hurwitz: You’re not gonna get out of, you’re not gonna quote unquote survive it. You, you have to tap out. Let yourself get to that point and then work how to get out. don’t be afraid of the failure. Don’t be afraid of [00:24:00] looking like an amateur in front of that new white belt. When I train, like I’m not seeking at all to win. I’m seeking to not. tap out, and put myself in a really nasty position because the more I practice that, then I’m unstoppable.

[00:24:14] Jake Hurwitz: Right? That’s kinda how I look at it. So it’s like I’ll put myself right at the staring face to face with failure every single day, and sometimes it might happen. It happens actually all the time doing that over and over again. Like there’s no better way to, ultimately really succeed.

[00:24:27] Sam Chlebowski: I think in some ways That analogy gets to why I think entrepreneurship can be so incredibly addicting once it gets your claws into you, as you shared in your story, it’s like you were unable to see another way. You’re unable to break out of that for another example, it’s like in some ways being thrown into a dirt pit and having to build your own tools to get yourself out of it.

[00:24:51] Sam Chlebowski: nobody’s coming there with a ladder or a rope. you gotta find it. You know, maybe you dig deeper and maybe you, dig your way out. But you have to find a way out somewhere and nobody’s there to help

[00:25:00] Jake Hurwitz: totally. and I actually had this like this month, you can’t sleep. You’re so down on yourself. Things are not working. You’re scared, you’re nervous, you’re anxious as hell. It happens all the time, ups and downs. And then something happens where you’re thinking, you’re forcing yourself to like, get outta this hole. And then you figure out the solution. kind of like, all right, I’m in this dirt hole. There’s nothing here except for rain and dirt and like a couple of little rocks. It’s 25 feet deep. you’re stuck, you’re scared, and you finally like, think clearly. pay attention. You ask the questions, you ask for help, and next thing you know, you’ve like, figured out how to use water to make some mud and then use the sunlight to turn it into rock, and then use that to make some stairs to get out, and you’re like, where did that even come from?

[00:25:37] Jake Hurwitz: Like, that is cool. You feel really damn good about yourself after that. But if you didn’t ever get yourself in that hole, like you would’ve never learned those skills, you would’ve never built the relationships you had to build with the people that helped you. that’s a huge win.

[00:25:50] Sam Chlebowski: would love to dig in a little bit to some of the more specific aspects of Thursday Labs. , from your experience as the founder of a, well established creative [00:26:00] agency, how do you look at client experience after a client is onboarded?

[00:26:05] Sam Chlebowski: What are the things that you are doing? What are the things that you see work well? Where have you fallen flat? I would love to know just all of that.

[00:26:12] Jake Hurwitz: Yeah. Um, I’m really glad you asked this question. I wish more people asked me this question cause I have an answer that I really stand by and, and have stood by for a very long time. Candidly, I don’t know where it came from, but I remember sharing this with my team when I was like 19 or 20 years old, running my first agency.

[00:26:30] Jake Hurwitz: And the quote is like, we’re never gonna be the best creatives in the world. sorry. Photographer, you’re just never gonna be the best photographer in the world. Sorry, designer. You’re never gonna be the best designer in the world. tough love, suck it up. There will always be someone with the same tools as you, who’s just more talented and better.

[00:26:46] Jake Hurwitz: But here’s the reality, it doesn’t matter because you’re not gonna win business by being the best in the world. You’re not getting that client down the street because they don’t know the difference between first, best, and second best. It still looks amazing to them. What we will win on is being the best in the world to work So to answer your question, client experience is the most important thing in my mind all the time. That’s how we operate and that’s how we win. And what comes from that? What do you think? Referrals. Lots of referrals.

[00:27:16] Sam Chlebowski: Referrals, baby, the goldmine, I think in a lot of ways, and first of all, I love your answer and it’s something I was literally just typing out for a LinkedIn post earlier, talking about like how to scale a creative agency. And the words that I wrote, were. Your technical skills and your abilities are not the thing that’s gonna help you grow. A sustainable, scalable, extremely profitable business. The thing that helps you do that it has to do with first the culture that you create, both internally and your culture of working with clients so that client experience comes into play, and then the systems and processes.

[00:27:57] Sam Chlebowski: That add to your client [00:28:00] experience because if you’re running around, you’re looking for things you can’t find something, files go missing, you send a client a wrong version of something, every one of those things is a point against your relationship with that client. Granted, there are things that you can do to rectify that situation.

[00:28:17] Sam Chlebowski: It can be some something as simple as, great. Okay, we messed up. I’m gonna come personally meet with you.

[00:28:23] Sam Chlebowski: I’m gonna come hop on a phone call with you right away. I’m gonna be crystal clear about what we messed up on, how we’re gonna try to improve this, and I’m gonna give you complete candor and no bullshit and hyperbole with that.

[00:28:36] Jake Hurwitz: Totally underrated as hell Goes. Such a long way. I read this quote or tweet or thread or something the other day admit your mistakes. People like you more for it. think about it. Last time someone was like, oh fuck, I made a mistake. I’m sorry. You’re like, damn, I really respected you before that and now I respect you more because you’re a human like me, and you make mistakes and, and you owned it. we’ll take care of it. admit what you don’t know. Hey, Jake, what was the ROI on this?

[00:28:58] Jake Hurwitz: I don’t know. Um, but I will get you that answer and more. Let me get right back to you and then you go get the answer. Something we like to do, we’re actually trying to figure out a way to do this right now. automate it more and make it more of a consistent thing. But like, we’re constantly tracking every week, like what did we do?

[00:29:14] Jake Hurwitz: What did we spend on that? And what was the ROI on it? . And I’ve done it like on a monthly basis. Sometimes I’ve done weekly, but now I’m really serious about every Friday, every client at the same time. the same time, every Friday they receive a very easy to digest report from us.

[00:29:29] Jake Hurwitz: This is what we did this week, this is what the results were. If that’s a negative number, like, okay, we’ll work on that. You know, that’s a different story. But having this culture of like constantly making sure that they, the culture is, it’s all about roi. And that’s what I wanna really hammer down.

[00:29:45] Sam Chlebowski: So just a couple more questions before we wrap up here. And Jake, thanks so much for coming on. the time like flew by here. I

[00:29:51] Sam Chlebowski: could have kept chatting for in another hour. Easy, but uh, so you’re in New York right now and you are moving to la You actually shared with me offline [00:30:00] what prompted that decision.

[00:30:01] Jake Hurwitz: I grew up in New York. I’ve been in New York now a total of 21 or something years of my life, , I’m growing up like I got a dog, about 10 months ago or something like that. He’s a big boy. I surf a lot.

[00:30:12] Sam Chlebowski: dog?

[00:30:12] Jake Hurwitz: yellow Lab. New York is small real estate, small spaces, very, very expensive.

[00:30:18] Jake Hurwitz: It costs like $150 just to breathe outside for a minute, and I’m just at this point where I, work from home all day and then I train in the evenings and walk my dog at one of the few dog parks around the neighborhood and or go to a client dinner or event. And then sleep and rinse and repeat.

[00:30:36] Jake Hurwitz: And then on the weekends, I still work through the weekends a lot, but I sit in traffic to get to the beach and surf or sit in traffic to go camping or snowboarding or somewhere upstate. And it’s all like decent outdoor access. I mean, being in Colorado for so long, I’m such a spoiled brat when it comes to nature that out here it actually like is depressing to be on a hike or surfing for me.

[00:30:58] Sam Chlebowski: I can see that, I mean, in school, like I don’t know about you. I had one semester where I had classes Tuesday and Thursday only, and I would go snowboarding. Literally, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. I would take Sundays off for homework, but four days out of the week I was up at the

[00:31:11] Jake Hurwitz: Did the exact same thing. you know what? I had years where I did New York, like I’d be at dinners and dates and like hitting these cool clubs and stand out till five in the morning, and. All the things. Like now I, I go to bed at 10, I wake up at six, I work out, I train, I surf. my business does great in New York, but it’ll also do great in Los Angeles and any other large city. I’m not ready to. Be in the outskirts yet. and I have a lot of friends in Los Angeles, so I don’t know if LA is the long haul for me, but I do see myself settling down on like, in like a coastal California town or something like that.

[00:31:40] Jake Hurwitz: And I wanna start exploring and so soft landing to where all the homies are in la.

[00:31:45] Sam Chlebowski: I love it, man. I love it. And kudos for you too, seeking out the lifestyle that you know is gonna be the most healthy and productive for you. it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s really easy to get caught in the grind. Excited

[00:31:56] Sam Chlebowski: for you.

[00:31:56] Jake Hurwitz: I appreciate it.

[00:31:57] Sam Chlebowski: one last question here before we go.

[00:31:59] Sam Chlebowski: If people want to know more about you and the work that you’re doing, where should they go to check you out? Where are you hanging out?

[00:32:04] Jake Hurwitz: LinkedIn and Instagram. So LinkedIn, I post a lot, almost every day, if not like, three or four times a day. I have people all the time being like, dude, post less on LinkedIn. I use my LinkedIn to test all these new algorithms and tools for, creating content. So like if I put out a new series, People might not realize it, but I’m, actually testing different AI tools and GPT and all that to create that content to see how things are landing, for my clients.

[00:32:29] Jake Hurwitz: So I can come back and be like, I just did this type of new content series on LinkedIn and it got these results, or I just did this series on LinkedIn, it got no results or whatever. The content I put out at the same time, I do find to be, it’s not random shit.

[00:32:39] Jake Hurwitz: It’s like valuable – about growth, about marketing, about branding, about storytelling, about content, and of course startups and venture capital. So follow me on LinkedIn. And then Instagram, I do have a public account now, and I like to recap a lot of the fun work we’re doing, but my Instagram’s a little more personal.

[00:32:54] Jake Hurwitz: Same with my TikTok, the lifestyle of like traveling a lot, being a dog dad, building cool things, enjoying nature, making music, and. Yeah, just like that’s, that’s the life I live in. For those who are into that as well.

[00:33:06] Sam Chlebowski: Love it man, and we will put links to those things in the show notes of this episode. Jake Hurwitz, thank you so much for coming on. This has been an awesome chat. I’d love to have you back on in the future because I think we could do a three-hour episode and that would be super sick.

[00:33:21] Sam Chlebowski: But thanks again for coming on and talk to you again soon.

[00:33:24] Jake Hurwitz: Thank you, Sam.

[00:33:25] Sam Chlebowski: This has been another great episode of designing Growth. Have fun, good luck, and go crush it.

[00:33:30] Sam Chlebowski: Take care, everybody. Bye-bye.

Client Portals Built for Creatives

Motion.io’s white-label client portals provide your clients with one place for all the files, forms, action items, and messages associated with their projects.

Submit your response

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