10 Years Ago

Posted in News on by JLSA

One of our first official owners’ portraits. Not enough piercings or turtlenecks.

Hey! James, David, and Josh here. We’d like to take you back for a moment to 2009 when this picture was taken.

It was the Great Recession, AKA the best worst time to start a business. None of us were happy with our agency jobs at [REDACTED]. And well, we figured if the ship was sinking, we should at least try and steer the thing.

So we began meeting at River Market’s Café Al Dente (RIP) to fix some of the flaws in agency models of the time—flaws like inefficient internal meetings, dreaded spec work, and the habit of prescribing solutions before knowing what the real problem is—then quit our jobs to test those theories out.

It was the perfect balance of smart and stupid. We named our new agency Johnny Lightning Strikes again, in part to emphasize this new stupid/smart way of doing things.

2012: Our First Office & Employee

To keep costs low, we worked from home for as long as we could. But after three years, we wanted to grow and got an office in the Crossroads. After all, you can do the best work in the world, but when you realize you haven’t changed out of your pajamas in days, it’s hard to feel like you’re contributing to society.

Hiring Sara, our first employee, took a lot of Googling to see what goes into an employment agreement, as well as a few creative recruitment techniques to persuade her to accept this definitely real job at this hugely successful and stable new company (see very convincing email below).

The office before we moved in. We had our work cut out for us.

Group pic in the new office. Aren’t we cute?

Early recruitment tools

Not long after we got an office, we got a kegerator. Best business decision ever. Here’s Josh with the first pour.

Clients Over the Years

We’ve been really fortunate to have so many great clients over the years—well over 150 in fact.

None of this would have happened without them trusting us to solve their biggest marketing challenges, especially our first clients like Ochsner Hare & Hare, Team Cocktail, Apple Bus Company, The Little House, and 801 Chophouse to name a few.

Early brainstorming for the 801 Chophouse website focused on introducing people to the experience of the new restaurant. We also met a lobster.

For these early clients, we know it had to have taken an especially large amount of trust in us—a matter we did not take lightly, and we really put our backs into those first projects to produce our very best for that reason. Many of them are actually still with us today, and a lot of our work ethic comes from making sure no client ever feels like they put their trust in the wrong group.

Do Right & Other Reasons for Success

Sure, we’ve had our fair share of lucky breaks. We couldn’t have predicted Overstock.com being our first mobile website. And James’ South African accent always sounding smart and vaguely British hasn’t hurt either.

But luck aside, we’re proud of the niche we’ve been able to fill as not just a really great design studio, development shop, or marketing firm, but all three.

Just like how we work with our clients, we’ve built our business to value the right decision over a merely good one. We’ve hired the right people—resulting in the best team in the game, KC or otherwise. We’ve taken on the right clients. We’ve developed the right process, done the right work, and celebrated our clients achieving their goals just like we were achieving ours (because that’s how it feels).

It’s something that’s carried us through the first 10 years, and hopefully, it gets us through the next.

Josh, James, and David