Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

1 April 2006

Building an Un-Company

At South by Southwest, a couple of panels that really got a couple of us fired up were Holistic Web Design and Design Eye for the List Guy. They were great panels, but the idea behind the projects they worked on really resonated with us. In both instances, a group of professionals got together and redesigned a website. Each person had the thing they were awesome at, such as branding, usability or CSS. They collaborated and the results were amazing.

The Coudal/Fried Keynote (mp3 link) was all about starting a business small and on the side. Embracing the constraints of being small, having no time or money, and so on, you can really do amazing things, often because of those constraints, rather than in spite of them.

So, while still at SXSW, Mark Bixby and I put our heads together and said “Is there any reason we couldn’t get some people together to collaborate on a regular basis?” Naturally, we said no, let’s do it. We’re calling it MethodArts.

We’ve identified three of the four we would like to be kind of the core group. We’ll bring any number of contributing members together for specific projects as it makes sense to do that. We want to be able to be organized together in a way that provides more unity and professionalism as a group, while also letting people show off their work individually.

Our office will be MethodArts.com where we will showcase our work, blog about our collaboration and link to our members’ sites. We’re working on it now and will launch sometime in May. We’re already working on our first collaboration (it’s a really awesome project), so it should be a pretty sweet launch.

The reason I titled this post “Building an Un-Company” is because that’s one of our goals here. We’re finding that it takes very little time and almost no money to collaborate this way. When you embrace the constraints of being small and doing stuff like this on the side, you end up prioritizing your values. You realize that you don’t need a fancy aluminum sign or a VC-stuffed bank account. If we had those things we’d be spending a ton of time not working on what matters. We’re also finding it’s fun and energizing to work together like this. I’m not quitting my job … yet. That’s why it is called a business on the side. We’ll have to see where this goes.

More to come.