It’s been two years since I moved to New York to open our 6S Marketing office, and the time has flown by — now it’s time to pass the Big Apple torch to 6Sers Ryan and Richard. While goodbyes are always bittersweet, I’m taking a minute to reflect on 6S’s past, present and future: what we learned from NYC and opening our subsidiary Chinese marketing agency, Sheng Li Digital.
Sheng Li Digital in the CTA
Sheng Li Digital participated in the Canadian Technology Accelerator Program in New York (a program which helps boost the growth of Canadian digital media companies). Overall, our experience within the program was very positive. The Canadian Trade Commissioner provided many introductions to NY businesses and ad agency partners, and we were provided office space in the Grind co-working space in Times Square. The CTA provided 3rd party credibility to Sheng Li; their pitch training, feedback and mentorship helped us gain big clients like Cirque du Soleil.
As an alumni company, we got to participate in many Canadian Trade Commissioner-supported events after the CTA was over, and provide guidance to new Canadian companies in later cohorts. This support system is essential in the crowded markets of New York! The rapid pace of living and working in Manhattan is both draining and unforgiving. There are simply not enough hours in the day to capitalize on all of the opportunity right in front of you! Competition is fierce and if you don’t seize opportunities in an extremely time effective manner, you will miss out.
Growing Pains & Big Campaigns
On a personal level, I needed to become a time management master to maintain a healthy work/life balance, as it was easy to start to burn out. I had to force myself to unplug by spending time in Central Park or taking weekends away from the glorious mayhem. For the first 14 months, I was working by myself. While we have teams in Toronto and Vancouver supporting our New York efforts, mostly I was a one-man-band on the ground which at times proved to be lonely and testing. Also, I didn’t have many friends in New York and struggled to break free of relying on hometown visitors for social activities.
However, when we moved our office from its Times Square location into SoHo and moved in to our partner (Engine Digital)’s offices, things really changed for me personally. I had a new network of colleagues and more visitors from our other offices. Our New York client base continued to expand, winning big projects with Engine Digital including Pirelli and Criteo.
During this time, 6S Marketing NYC pulled off one of our favorite campaigns to date — the #WeAre6S campaign, correlating with the release of Apple’s iPhone 6S. Remember our mobile billboard in front of the iconic Apple store? The #WeAre6S campaign gave us valuable experience, discovering the best way tell our company story at an exciting moment when the “6S” name was going global. It helped gain publicity for our NY office and the hashtag is still going strong — check it out for a look at our corporate culture across NYC, Toronto, and Vancouver.
Next Steps for New York and Beyond
As our company grew, so did our social relationships. Not long after the move to SoHo, my wife Kyla announced she was pregnant, which was something we had wanted and had been working on for years. Priorities soon evolved and we started to look for a way to develop a new team in New York. We began applying for visas to move two of our top performers from Vancouver to help build 6S Marketing NYC. In the Spring of 2016 Ryan Burke and Richard Bergen took over the helm; you can read more about their story here.
I’m continuing to work on the expansion of 6S Marketing into key markets, and Los Angeles, California is on our radar next. My new son Truman, who was born in New York, will be along for the next adventure – and all the lessons learned from my New York experience will apply, too. But first, it’s time to take the summer to unplug and achieve that elusive work/life balance again.
It’s been a fast-paced two years in New York, and the future looks even more promising. Stay tuned as 6S grows even more global.