Feb 02, 2018 | Members
Behind the Design with Whitelabel
By: Emily Dammeyer
Love our new website? So do we! Meet Whitelabel, the agency behind our beautiful new site. Headquartered in uptown Toledo, Whitelabel is a team of 14 designers, developers and engineers focused on app development and web development. They anticipate continuing to grow their team in 2018, with some new initiatives geared around blockchain.
EPIC: Why did you want to be involved with the EPIC Toledo website build?
Josh Cooper (Co-Owner Whitlabel): The EPIC Toledo website represented a few awesome things for us. For starters, our team skews pretty young and we squarely represent the EPIC Toledo demographic, uniquely suiting us to design and build the site. Also, with much of our business coming from out of town or being behind the scenes business applications, we looked forward to doing something more “high profile” in the city. Most importantly, we wanted the EPIC site to be something that the region can be proud of and that represents the talent, creativity and opportunity we have here in NW Ohio.
EPIC: Where did Whitelabel find its start?
We started Whitelabel in the Summer of 2013, most of us had previously worked together at a social gifting company called Givt. After struggling and ultimately failing in trying to make Givt a national company, we set out to create a website development and product build agency that would not only build amazing digital experiences, but help other entrepreneurs avoid some of the mistakes we made in building our startup. While the journey over the past 4.5 years has meandered, we still today serve both Fortune 500 companies and help founders build their startups. We’ve grown from 3 of us in the beginning to a 14 person agency today, designing and building custom websites and applications using modern languages and platforms.
EPIC: What do you love about doing business in the Toledo Region?
Cooper: I really love the size of Toledo and the few degrees of separation you are from just about everyone here. In just a few years, we have been able to develop a solid reputation and land work with some pretty high profile organizations, mostly through word of mouth or “networking”. I love the sense of community people have and the willingness to build locally and support other Toledo-based organizations, we’ve even felt welcomed by and collaborated with several other advertising and web agencies in the area. As a younger company, looking to the future, we also see Toledo as uniquely suited for building an international business. Web development is akin to manufacturing in many senses and our cost advantage of operating in this city positions us well against competitors from the coasts and beyond. Finally, it’s really fun to show our out of town clients this city, people are always so pleasantly surprised when they visit Toledo and there is something about our recent renaissance that further attracts people to our company.
EPIC: What have been some of the most exciting moments in Whitelabel’s history?
Cooper: Honestly, the most exciting moments are always centered around the amazing people we get to work with every day. We have some really incredible clients doing some very impactful things, we love partnering with them, challenging them and collaborating to build amazing products together. Also, each time we add a new team member and grow the Whitelabel team, it is exhilarating. We have a pervasive spirit of learning and growing at Whitelabel and the conversations are incredibly dynamic and thought-provoking. At the end of the day, this business is all about the incredible people and relationships, that is what excites me every day.
EPIC: In five years, your company has established a global client base – what did that journey look like?
Cooper: It’s cliche to say it’s been a rollercoaster, so I’ll call it a meandering journey. Building a business is hard and we’ve had our bumps in the road like anyone, but we’ve also had some big wins. Establishing a global client base is really a product of both our network and building a portfolio of work. The first few customers took chances on us, but we’ve started to develop a reputation for “being able to build anything” and delivering quality work that is objectively measurable. Being on the leading edge of the technology curve has some drawbacks, we don’t deal with a lot of legacy platforms, but it also provides us with opportunities in some leading global markets like New York, London and Silicon Valley. Now, we actively seek out global customers, touting our team, our work, our specific competencies and our region as a place to come for quality web development and strategic thinking.
EPIC: Tell us your history with Toledo.
Cooper: We came to be in the Toledo region through the romantic encounters of our parents, most of us are born and raised 🙂 We met at a previous technology startup called Givt and Whitelabel was born in the years that followed.
EPIC: When you aren’t designing beautiful websites and web apps, what else does Whitelabel provide for clients?
Cooper: We do a fair bit of SEO, strategy and consulting as well. Most of the team is comprised of designers, developers and engineers, we really focus on building technology more than marketing, social, or advertising.
EPIC: One of our main pillars is community impact, and we love that you and your team are so involved in the area. Tell us about that.
Cooper: In addition to my personal involvement on the EPIC Toledo board, we are working to get involved more deeply into the Toledo Art scene. We are business council members at the Toledo Museum of Art and strive to become a destination on Art Loop once our new office opens in 2018. We also are huge advocates and ambassadors for everything Adams Street, often participating in the Outdoor Refreshment Area and patronizing the local coffee shops, bars and restaurants.
EPIC: Share something unique or interesting about your employees and company culture.
Cooper: Something like 80% of our company plays music casually and about half of the team is in a band of some sort. We have big plans for our new Adams Street headquarters, including some awesome events with live music, local food, startups and more. However, despite having an office, we don’t have a mandatory attendance policy and we embrace remote work culture. We have employees in NYC, Chicago, Detroit, Dayton and Toledo and have an intentional view towards the future of work.