Despite the general hype of the gender equality topic in Silicon Valley, it remains extremely hard for a working woman to succeed: female founders received just 2.2% of US VC in 2018, and hold only 20% of tech jobs and 11% of creative director and executive agency roles.
In these times of change, the female-owned branding agency Wunderdogs is addressing quite a few of these issues. Breaking into crypto and blockchain space, Stanford alumni founders differentiate themselves by starting with one of the most male-dominated industries.
Wunderdogs is “…an agency on a mission to transform amazing underdogs into big dogs” that works with early and growth stage companies and helps them bring their innovative ideas into the world. We interviewed cofounders Olga Svitelska and Daria Gonzalez of the company to learn about their own path from underdog to wunderdog.
BlockTelegraph: How did you meet and why did you decide to start?
Olga Svitelska: Daria and I worked on an interesting project together. The early stage VC fund GVA.Capital bought a building that used to be a Catholic Church (906 Broadway in San Francisco) with an intention to create an innovation hub and a community center. Daria worked in the VC fund, and I was leading production and operations for the entire project.
Together, we’ve launched a 300-person venue that was the hub itself, and a co-living space that we led to profitability 3 months after launch. Whoa, we thought, we work well together!
Daria Gonzalez: At the same time, after a year and a half in early stage investing, it became clear to me that one of the important challenges for fundraising teams was their inability to find product-market fit, craft a compelling USP, and tell a relatable story. We’ve seen dozens of teams with outstanding products and services fail over and over again as they simply would not find a way to connect with their investors and early customers.
The traditional creative agency model didn’t work for many startups due to high costs and slow turnaround times. Speed, cost-efficiency and understanding of startup’s processes were the keys to Wunderdogs’ value proposition.
BT: How did you start and where are you now?
DG: Starting your own business is not easy – there are a lot of challenges you have to solve. We decided to just start and solve problems as we advance. Our start was by far not the most strategic, but it definitely turned out to be pretty effective for us. Funnily enough, Olga was 7.5 months pregnant when we started. The day she gave birth, she called me to check in on work status and wouldn’t let me go until I updated her on every task. Her daughter’s name is Misha and our clients and employees call her a Wunderpup.
OS: We started in 2017; it was just the two of us. In a little over a year, Wunderdogs served 30+ clients, processed 70+ deals, helped its early stage clients raise a total of $143M* and grew from 2 to 16 team members and numerous collaborators. As a service business and not a venture-backed company we are very proud of our growth rate.
BT: What makes you different?
DG: First, it’s about who we are: we come from entrepreneurship, investing and corporate tech, whereas most of the creative agencies are typically built around experienced solo art directors. We solve business challenges by means of creativity. That means we understand our clients and know how to support a young company through its hockey stick growth in iterations, without disrupting their process (we call it MVB approach, or Minimum Viable Branding). We know what it takes to launch – we are operators, not just consultants. Coming from investing also means we know what drives investment decisions and have a strong investor network in the Valley.
OS: We are fully remote – that’s a big one, too. Our sales and operations are on the U.S. coasts, our creatives are in Western Europe; our engineering – in Eastern Europe. We believe that not forcing creative teams in the office allows you to raise highly autonomous and loyal employees that can work and travel, live wherever they want and choose a schedule that helps them maximize their productivity.
It takes a lot of hard work, but in the long-term it is better for all. There are quite a few benefits for our clients, too — no useless overhead or office rent included in project budgets, faster turnarounds due to operating across multiple time zones, plus lots of expertise, network and contacts to support companies going truly global.
DG: Why Blockchain?
OS: As we first started in 2017, crypto was on the rise and we received an incredible number of Blockchain clients. We partnered with a digital asset advisory Element Group (now The Actual Group) – together, our teams worked on a number of outstanding clients (WAX, BlockV, EverID among others). Separately, we also worked on quite a few other companies in the industry, such as Vault, Keyband, Ether Cyrcus and others.
We learned to understand the technology, invested in it our time and money, gained technical knowledge and our own perspective on the industry and its future. We believe in it. Around 40% of our clients come from Blockchain. Our focus is to collaborate exclusively with organizations that aim to change the world through Blockchain, not just get quick ICO money. I think we’ve been doing something right – all of our clients thrived through 2018.
DG: For me, Blockchain represents pure future, and it feels so real and empowering that we are actually shaping it, now. There’s a place for everyone to join, contribute, and… matter. For Wunderdogs, it is about executing our talent of taking deep, complex technical concepts and boiling them down into clean, relatable and ‘human-focused’ narratives. I believe in the power of a strong brand to bring the future into the present.
We’ve always been focused on emerging, often misunderstood technologies because we believe that by translating their innovative products and services into the language of humankind, we bring the world to a better future.
BT: What’s your advice to women who want to work in crypto?
DG: It’s not only the scaling challenge that has to be solved for Blockchain to obtain widespread adoption. According to Bloomberg, 80% of purchasing decisions in the world are made by women. Blockchain won’t go anywhere without us – it’s adoption depends on securing a strong presence among women around the globe. So, don’t be shy – the industry is literally waiting for you to join. Without women Blockchain has no future.