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The Magnificent Seven

Artefact is turning seven. In business years, this is quite a lot. Gone are the days of building the foundation of the business, of defining our brand, of establishing our client base. The challenges we face are different – how do we evolve and grow, how do we reinvent ourselves and motivate our people so that we are as excited and as inspired as we were on Day 1? We will have exciting stories to share about these new challenges soon, but in the meantime, here are a few of the highlights, lessons and memorable moments of our first seven years:

  1. Nothing is as exciting as giving birth. Our first product, 10,000ft taught us that it is incredibly difficult to launch your own product, and hugely rewarding when you do. And with hundreds of customers within less than 18 months, 10,000ft is making us feel like we did something right as parents.
  2. The most rewarding projects are the ones that have an impact beyond the bottom line. The opportunity to work on projects like the SCHARP CAVD DataSpace, which aims to accelerate HIV vaccine research, and maternal and newborn health research for PATH gave meaning to our work and helped us define our 21st Century Design philosophy.
  3. An idea can spark a fire much bigger than you imagined. When we launched the WVIL concept camera and the video that told its story, we believed in it but could never anticipate its impact – from the viral spread of the video (2 million views and counting) to the innovation it inspired in others.
  4. Embracing the unexpected is the best way to deal with uncertainty. We have never been afraid of trying new things and turn the unexpected into an opportunity to experiment, learn and grow. Having the flat organizational structure and culture that allows for trying new things helps us stay nimble and take the challenges and opportunities in stride.
  5. Staying focused in a place dedicated to creativity can be a challenge. Launching a product and opening a new office at the same time can put a lot of stress on the organization. Kickstarter campaigns are enormous fun, but also a significant time sink. The ability to prioritize and be realistic, despite the enthusiasm that great ideas can inspire is a skill that is hard to learn and painful to use.
  6. Don’t assume that what worked before will work in the future. We have learned to check our baggage every time we start working on a new project. Being open-minded and willing to learn allows us not only to bring fresh ideas to our clients, but empowers us to tackle big problems like civic engagement and disturb old stereotypes and technologies like printing.
  7. Answer the question of why you do what you do, not just what you do. Making Artefact the place where we and the people that work here find our purpose is what keeps us going. It is what keeps us growing.