Cloudraker: No Bullshit

After one look at the website of CloudRaker, a digital branding agency based in Montreal, you know you’re in the presence of something ultra cool. But, refreshingly, it’s the type of cool that’s more “join in” than “make way.” Founded on Valentines day of 2000, CloudRaker provides its clients – Soїa and Kyo, Air France, Onitsuka Tiger, and eBay Canada, among many more – overall branding solutions in a largely digital format.

Prior to its inception, CloudRaker sat in the mind of Thane Calder, the agency’s co-president and co-founder, for years. He says, “A simple idea came to me years ago when I was climbing a big mountain out West. For whatever reason, and perhaps the lack of oxygen, I got thinking of how cool it must be for Steven Spielberg’s kids to go hang with their dad at work. And that was it. I decided right then that I wanted to create a workplace that my kids would find cool.”He goes on, “Okay, at the time I had a bunch of things going against my career plan. To start, I didn’t have any kids let alone a girlfriend. Also, I had no idea what kind of cool work someone would pay me to do. The only think I knew was that I’d call this future place after the name of the mountain I was on. And so CloudRaker was conceived but not yet born.”

Six years later, Calder met Jean-Sebastien Monty at “a hot shot ad agency,” and Calder’s idea began its transformation into reality. Calder says, “Although the both of us had some web experience, we were far (ahhh..very far) from being experts, but who cares, I had found someone else to build that hubba-cool workplace I dreamed about on Mount Cloud Raker.” He continues, “After a bunch of conversations and perhaps too much red wine, we decided to start our own agency.” The two had strong hopes it would become “the no bullshit interactive marketing agency of the future.”

The difference between good work and great work? Nobody remembers good. Great is memorable.

Today, with a staff of 35 people and an inimitably cool design standpoint, the agency stands firmly on the bullshit-less belief that “The cure to today’s topsy-turvy media and economic landscape is not more advertising noise but instead meaningful ideas that are unique, and simply, useful.” The staff works towards this cure by asking themselves daily “what if?” and “so what.” Calder says, “CloudRaker is about daring to make the world a better place to live even in our own small (and sometimes big) way. And as far as I know, we only live on this planet once, so I strive every single day to deliver on this manifesto!”

How can creative businesses like CloudRaker maintain success while continuing to move forward? Calder says, “Get a great blend of people with different core strengths and perspectives to collaborate.  As ideas develop, it’s important to have “no-bullshit” sessions to challenge the ideas from the outset.  It’s also important to know when to pull the plug…this is tricky because persistence is often the key ingredient for success but in the end, so is good judgment. ”

And when it comes to quizzing Calder on the always-relevant topic of organization and time management, he replies, “This is an ongoing challenge…Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that it isn’t.  Ideally, you learn to delegate.  Having confidence and believing in the people you work with is very important. Knowing that the right people are tackling the right tasks allows me to focus on other things.  That’s the macromanager in me.”

Calder’s star piece of advice? He believes that the key to success with both individual projects and an entire creative agency is a willingness to fail: “The difference between good work and great work? Nobody remembers good. Great is memorable. But there’s no formula for great. Great means taking that extra step into the unknown. It’s about daring to push boundaries and trying something new. Of course it doesn’t always work out. We can land flat on our face, but at least we got the thrill of falling.”

More insights on: Failure, Workspace Design
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