Running a successful business in this day and age is no easy feat. In the Web design industry, post dot-com bust, it seems even tougher with few real leaders that have successfully maintained profitability.
There is one Web design agency in Orange County, California though that seems to have found the recipe for success in this uncertain economy. 2Advanced Studios, through solid business principles and a unified vision for their company, has continually turned a profit since the second month of business and achieved worldwide acclaim for their progressive design style.
2Advanced Studios is a boutique-style new media agency, specializing in interactive Web design, development and backend solutions, broadcast video, 3D graphics, multimedia, identity and audio production services.
Since its inception in 1999, 2Advanced’s cutting-edge design style has amassed a strong following throughout the Web design community and their world famous online portfolio (www.2advanced.com), now in its fourth version, receives nearly 2.5 million unique visitors a month by word of mouth alone.
2Advanced Studios has been featured in over 40 different design publications and their wide array of websites and online applications receive recognition resulting in more than 60 industry awards. Many think that this agency’s success must be due to a niche area of design that they cater to, but 2A services a wide variety of industries and notable clients such as: Nintendo of America, KB Home, Fujitsu, EA Games, ESPN, Ford Motor Company, J. Walter Thompson, Broadcom, Skyworks, Warner Brothers, Fox Sports and LG Electronics.
A Vision for the Future
The 2A story is a unique one, as it seems the medium that they decided to offer their services in, acted as a catalyst for their immediate success. 2Advanced began as one talented designer’s experiment to create an online personal portfolio that would not only showcase his work, but share his innovative design style and vision for the future.
“Many people think the name ‘2Advanced’ was meant to imply mastery of everything, when in reality it constitutes a love of the future,” said Eric Jordan, President and Chief Creative Officer of 2Advanced Studios. “2Advanced didn’t start as a vision for a company, it started as a style and a way of expressing myself from the different facets of my life, which I used to develop a style that spoke to the hopeful fighting for something you believe in, and I guess I created something people could grasp.”
The original 2Advanced site was groundbreaking in its innovative design and technology. This generated hundreds of passionate emails from amazed visitors seeking to understand how a website could convey so much emotion through sound and motion.
Determined to use the success of the first site to reach out and share his vision with others, Eric designed a second version that was more business oriented to show prospective corporate clients how Web design could communicate their message. Another huge success, the emails continued to pour in, reaching over 1,000 emails a week.
In 1999, a falling out with his previous company coupled with the demand for 2Advanced design services caused Eric and two of his most trusted colleagues, Antony Novak and John Carroll, to start 2Advanced Studios. Their vision for the design studio was commitment to “progressive design technologies” and to build upon solid business practices.
“The vision has remained pretty much the same since day one: it was to create a studio, one of the most formidable studios world-wide, one that would carry respect, be highly looked upon for our endeavors and on the cutting-edge, pursuing new technologies and always focused with one step forward into the future,” said Tony Novak, Chief Operating Officer at 2Advanced. “We wanted to be leaders, not followers. We wanted to hire the best and the brightest that the world has to offer in design and new media technology. We wanted to show the world that art and technology can be brought together and live harmoniously.”
A Solid Foundation
With a unified vision and a growing market demand for their unique services, the three founders started the company in their homes and with money out of their own pockets. The strength behind 2Advanced Studios came from a perfectly married team of founders.
Eric Jordan stood as the creative visionary with an extensive background in motion graphics and cutting-edge new media technologies. Antony Novak, with nearly 14 years of technical, programming, marketing, business and general legal experience came in as Chief Operating Officer to handle all business development, technology and operating infrastructure. And John Carroll, Chief Technology Officer would oversee all back-end development and expand the 2Advanced infrastructure for hosting and daily operations, bringing over 14 years of his own technical experience as a developer.
“This wasn’t my first business, or John’s first business that we started, 2Advanced is actually my fourth company so I had quite a bit of experience dealing with start-up to operational level issues,” said Novak. “John also had a lot of seasoned talent and Eric came to us with the pure strength on the creative; he had the vision of the company, the identity, the brand, he knew immediately what he wanted it to look like and how he wanted it to be positioned. Everybody had a very collective understanding and mutual respect.”
The Big Break
With a business plan in place, the 2A team was ready to turn their growing source of leads into clients. They released version three of the website out of their homes and were catapulted into business.
“We received something like 20,000 emails in the first four hours after we launched,” said Jordan. “I remember that we launched it in the morning after being up all night finishing it up, I was so tired, but I stayed up to read all the emails that kept coming in, it was amazing.”
Version three, which Jordan named “Expansions” put 2Advanced Studios on the map and is still called “one of the most copied and ripped off Web designs in history,” by numerous designers who have been involved in the industry over the past few years.
“Version three was wonderful, it was everything we needed, in our first 30 days, we got a call from Vulcan Inc., and knowing that was Microsoft’s co-founder, Paul Allen’s company, and hearing that they were extremely interested in utilizing 2Advanced to generate the next version of their site (www.vulcan.com), we knew that was the turning point for us. After solidifying that contract, we were instantaneously profitable and had revenue to carry us through the rest of the year while we continued to market, push the name and do everything we could to gain constant exposure.”
And so 2Advanced Studios took off with a “buzz” throughout the design community and one very big break. From that point on, 2Advanced began to build up an extensive portfolio of clients, some that were start-ups looking to create their own buzz as well as established corporations seeking less conventional corporate images. Anyone that came to 2A for design work had a common thread though…They wanted something edgy and bold…They related to the 2Advanced vision.
“I knew when it all got started that it was going to do big things when these large companies and corporations that seemed so conservative were embracing what we were doing with design,” explains Jordan. “There’s such a saturation of communication in society right now with such an overbearing amount of interferences, ads and spam, and people are becoming aware of it now. 2Advanced was the first site to mix emotion with business on the Web and be very honest. It’s that honesty that people will look to in the future when they are going to buy their products.”
Pushing the Boundaries of Technology
Another driving force behind 2Advanced’s success is their uncanny ability to stay one step ahead of the game. Considered by many to be masters of Flash technology, 2Advanced websites and applications are much more than beautifully designed; they continually strive to push the boundaries of new technology.
“We are constantly being contacted by companies all around the world wanting our services, and it’s because people are very sensory, they want to be engaged in something, and that’s what we do,” said Jordan. “Part of it is staying on top of the industry and learning what technologies are available to us and what they can do for Web design and development. You can use that technology to put a spin on what people are trying to sell on their websites by creating something cutting-edge that hasn’t been experienced in that industry to gain people’s attention.”
Staying One Step Ahead of the Game
In November of last year, 2Advanced Studios decided to expand on their portfolio of services and created 2advanced.net, a flexible and managed Web hosting platform, as part of their commitment to staying ahead of the game. The goal was to provide a one-stop-shop solution to clients for all of their online needs while generating recurring revenue so that the company could start experimenting with new design technologies.
“Nine out of 10 clients ask us for hosting recommendations,” said Novak. “We had the data center, the financial resources, the technology resources and the people to make it work. It was just a matter of putting together a business plan, and identifying state-of-the-art ways to operate and manage a data center. With all of the top tier data centers falling apart, bandwidth was cheap, so it was the perfect time to start a hosting business.”
2Advanced spent the past few years building an onsite 6,750 sq. foot, next-generation Data Center to offer flexible server configurations. Since its launch, 2advanced.net has taken on some high-volume clients such as Skyworks Solutions Inc., Ultrashock Community Forums and the American Youth Soccer Organization.
Other future endeavors for 2Advanced Studios include exploration of new technologies in 3D and video to push the convergence of new media technology. Novak adds, “As broadband continues to proliferate and high-speed access becomes the standard, we want to be right there with it offering solutions that leverage the full range of technology.”
Most importantly to the team at 2Advanced Studios, the plan is to stay true to the original vision that brought them so much success.
“The overall goal for us is to leave an impression,” said Novak. “We want to leave a legacy, something that people will remember 10 and 20 years down the line. We’d like to establish that legacy so that nobody ever forgets what 2Advanced was to New Media. That’s why we’re in this.”
About the Author, Jami Beaton
Jami Beaton, (former) Marketing Manager at 2Advanced Studios and was proud to be the first female 2A team member. Jami received her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Chapman University and formerly served as Associate Editor of BuyMagazine.