Reversing The Usual Sad Story

Almost every coffee conversation in Vancouver is about how there’s not enough work to go around for all the talent in Vancouver. It’s a West Coast cliche.

We all know the situation: Great creative company starts up in BC, but there’s not enough business to sustain it. So it ends up in some other city like San Francisco or Toronto.  

Stephen Beck’s company turned that cliche on its head.

The CEO of Engine Digital, a 10-year-old Vancouver creative agency based in Vancouver,
recently opened another office in New York.

Beck knew the Apple was fertile ground for his company, because it was already doing work there. It was sure to get more if it was continuously on the ground.  

“We looked at the usual places like LA or San Francisco, even Toronto, but there is a big entrepreneurial creative scene in New York — the city is really encouraging it.”

However, EngineDigital didn’t just leap across the continent on a whim. It researched the idea for two full years.

Beck was also constantly flying to New York for a week at a time to work anyway. While there he built networks. so that when it came time to make the leap, he already had a good client referral infrastructure in place.

“It’s not that Vancouver wasn’t good enough, it’s a very creative place,” Beck said, explaining why EngineDigital made the leap. “But it’s isolated. It’s a great place to live, but there isn’t enough work here. There it’s cliff-like (as in jumping off) demand.”

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to find office space at a reasonable price in New York. The prices in the SOHO district are comparable to Vancouver, and Beck was able to find a shared space with another startup.

“It looks exactly like our place in Vancouver,” He enthused.  

EngineDigital also found an insider in New York who knew the industry well and could act as the company’s representative. Beck will be joining him for a couple of weeks a month to meet potential clients and get the business up and running.

But, through modern communications technology, all the digital services work will be done in Vancouver.

Engine Digital’s move almost became a familiar Vancouver sad story — not enough work, so companies have to move elsewhere.

But in this case, the work was indeed elsewhere, but most of the company stayed here.