Silicon Valley Moved—Why Investors Went East

The 20th century has seen several creative epochs—times and places where movements flourished as geniuses gathered to work toward the same goals. The left bank of the Seine was host to such an epoch in the twenties. The Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco was another in the sixties.

Creative epochs aren’t limited to art and literature, though. What about Edison and Tesla’s electrical battles in upstate New York? The Manhattan Project under the football stadium at the University of Chicago? Revolutions in technology, mathematics and science happen in exactly the same way.


These places and the people that reside in them have shaped western thought. The cultural and scientific innovations they created are forever engrained in global consciousness. Almost everything we do today pays homage, be it wittingly or not, to the work that has gone before us.


What’s interesting about epochs is the way they spread. These technical and cultural revolutions begin with tiny flashpoints—small areas where luminaries gather. The fire never dims in these early areas, but it does grow and expand until it’s impossible to choose a single key area anymore.


By their very nature, epochs don’t last forever. Movements born in garages, coffee shops and laboratories soon attract wider interest and eventually become mainstream.

A City Built on Silicon

The tech boom in Silicon Valley may eventually be remembered as one of the greatest epochs of all time. The brightest technological and entrepreneurial minds in the world gathered around San Francisco to realize the unharnessed potential of the Internet. The innovations they produced are now so common and fundamental that we struggle to comprehend life without them.


Photographer of building


For two decades now, Silicon Valley has been a mecca for people with good ideas. San Francisco has become one of the youngest cities in America as recent college grads have gathered there in droves. Top-tier influencers like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have dictated the course of international business from their offices in Northern California. The Bay Area has been virtually the only destination for ambitious graduates and entrepreneurs for decades.


But that’s changing.

The Movement Spreads

“I love the Bay Area, and I never expected or wanted to leave,” says Andy Jenks, a serial entrepreneur and partner at a successful venture investment firm. “For 17 years of ups and downs, it’s been home…[But] I believe strongly enough in the power of the Midwest to transform American venture investing that I’ve pulled up my roots and made a move no one ever thought I’d make.”


Landmark Bridge


Jenks recently started Drive Capitol, his new investment firm, in Columbus Ohio. He’s one of many young innovators who, as demonstrated by the map below, are choosing to leave Silicon Valley and take their businesses and families to other growing tech markets farther east.


Top Tech Cities Map
Credit The Atlantic


“In the Midwest I see and meet entrepreneurs solving real-world problems that they are passionate about,” he says. “That’s how great companies get built, and that mentality is why I am here, ultimately.”


Cities like Salt Lake City, Boulder, Dallas and Cleveland have been increasingly attracting the companies that used to be exclusively interested in the Bay Area. The reasons behind the shift are complex, but the movement is real. Industry experts predict that in 20 years, 90 percent of the marketing cap in technology will be built outside of Silicon Valley.

Heading Out East

It takes a special sort of place to foster innovation. The Bay Area is ideal because of its excellent infrastructure. San Francisco is a pleasant place to live. Schools are good and crime is low. The legislature carefully protects intellectual property, allowing entrepreneurs to feel confident in their ability to monetize their ideas.


The University of San Francisco on the peninsula, UC Berkeley in Oakland and other large universities in the area provide a steady stream of tech talent. Finally, Silicon Valley has a twenty-year head start on other communities and a powerful reputation associated with it.


Woman Reading a Book


The Bay Area’s position appears almost unassailable, but the same factors which made it a tech giant are also causing problems. San Francisco is crowded with innovators. The market is far from saturated, but it’s difficult to stand out. The sheer press of people makes daily realities like the commute to work a tricky ordeal. The fiercely competitive atmosphere leads to high burnout rates, as well.


“In the Bay Area, there’s been such enormous growth and opportunity that it’s created some challenges for happiness,” says Paul D’Arcy, Senior Vice President at


“Job searchers are always balancing opportunity and happiness. As people think about what the right fit for them is, housing, traffic and quality of life are really important factors.”


Here’s where newer tech centers like Dallas and Minneapolis have a major advantage. They offer a more relaxed lifestyle without compromising workforce quality or civic infrastructure. There’s still a certain novelty attached to the tech industry in these areas. Businesses can grow naturally without battling every day for air and sunlight.

The Future of Tech In America

When you drop a pebble in a pond, ripples spread. It’s foolish to try and restrict the movement of the water. The efforts of the Silicon Valley tech pioneers dropped a figurative pebble, and the movement has remained remarkably concentrated until now. However, the inevitable outward expansion is beginning.




Tech will become less locally concentrated in the future. Cloud-based platforms mean companies don’t need to worry so much about where they place their headquarters. Today, all you need to start a company is a fast Internet connection and supportive group of investors—and by no means are those resources limited to the Bay Area.

Silicon Valley will be relevant as long as there are tech jobs in America, but it’s no longer the only game in town.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.


Featured UpTrender – John Jenkins

This post is part of a series highlighting the talented team of UpTrending. We believe in hiring the best and brightest in all areas of expertise, and it shows in the wide range of personalities and skills we have on our team. But our team members are more than just talented professionals – and you deserve to know them a bit better.

John Jenkins is our latest Featured UpTrender. As a member of our Project Management team, John gets to interact with both clients and internal team members on a daily basis. Hailing from Houston, TX, he has been with UpTrending since mid-2015, and works with several of our most prominent clients.


John, tell us a bit about your background, and what drew you to UpTrending.

Prior to coming on board here, I have been in project management for about 10 years. Specifically, I worked in several companies focused on web development, working to help them support other firms, including design agencies. I sought out UpTrending because I really wanted to tackle the opportunity of working with Silicon Valley clients, and to expand beyond just web development.


We’ve heard from other Project Managers that they didn’t set out to be in that role – does that hold true for you?

I’ve actually always had an interest in how technology can be used to maximize business function. I majored in Marketing and Management Information Systems in college, so while I’m not sure I specifically sought out the role of Project Manager, it’s definitely in line with what I like to do as far as helping companies merge business and tech.


So how do you describe your job to your friends and family?

I make life easier for designers and developers. Those guys are the stars who do all the real work.


What do you think is the best part of your job?

The people. Both the clients and my fellow team members are all such brilliant professionals, and it’s great to come alongside them to help them create amazing results.


And the worst part?

As great as the people are, technology doesn’t always cooperate. That could be the technology we are working on, like a website, or a third-party system like a job engine or marketing automation platform. It could even be the very system we’re using to manage the project itself. You can talk with a person, reason with them, reach an understanding. Technology isn’t nearly as forgiving.


I know you work really hard, and a lot of hours – but what do you spend your off-time working on?

I do a lot of reading and studying about entrepreneurship. Seeing how people are working to change the world, and the ways that they are doing it gives great perspective on my own life and what I’m working on. I also used to play the cello, though I don’t get to it as much as I’d like anymore.


Take a moment to talk to the up-and-coming Project Manager. How can they be as awesome as you?

Start with the end in mind. In other words, understand the deliverable and the process before your team ever begins working.

Develop strong trust within your team, and with the client. Trust will make things go much more smoothly when the hiccups come. One way to do this is to own your mistakes. Nobody likes to work with someone who passes the buck. Be authentic and transparent.

Finally, remember that there is no such thing as a “simple task.” In fact, if someone who isn’t doing the work says that it should be simple, that’s likely a sign that the opposite will be true.


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Houston – I love my city!


Featured UpTrender – Mark Heinsman

This post is part of a series highlighting the talented team of UpTrending. We believe in hiring the best and brightest in all areas of expertise, and it shows in the wide range of personalities and skills we have on our team. But our team members are more than just talented professionals – and you deserve to know them a bit better.

This month, we get to talk with Mark Heinsman, a key member of our Web Development team. Mark joined UpTrending earlier this year, and comes from a background of remote agency work, as well as freelance.


When people ask what you do, what’s your answer?

“I build websites.”


Simple enough. How’d you get started with developing websites?

I dabbled in web development back in middle school but it was in the form of building extremely rudimentary, table based, flat HTML pages using Microsoft Word. I didn’t really get into the field until college.


Was Programming your course of study?

Actually, I received my Bachelors in Advertising with a Minor in Graphic Design.


What’s your path from art to development look like?

I spent two years as an Art Director at an agency here in Virginia Beach. I then transitioned into web development for a small remote agency that specializes in nonprofit work. Art has always been a big part of my life but coding has become more of a passion in recent years.


And after those stops, you joined UpTrending. Why?

UpTrending is a remote agency, but it isn’t small. I loved the flexibility of working remotely but I was tired of working at a smaller shop where I had no backup when multiple deadlines hit at the same time.


Speaking of your backup and support team, what’s a common misconception about developers?

We’re all nerds.


Break the stereotype, then – what are some of your hobbies?

I’m really into rock climbing. It’s really healthy to step away for the computer for a couple days and get outside!


Do you find any correlation between rock climbing and coding?

Would it be a stretch to say that the problem solving aspect of climbing translates into my coding skills? That’s my favorite part of my job – the problem solving aspect.


Can you give an example?

After learning how to code for about four months I was working on a customized e-commerce site. The company I was working on it for had me on part-time to test my skill levels. My boss had been coding for years and after I spent all night solving a complicated plugin hack to add a feature we were working on he was shocked and said, “How the heck did you do that?!” The next month they hired me full-time.


Wow, that’s awesome! So, what’s your least favorite part of the job?

It’s frustrating when clients choose to do something I know is not in their best interest, but they won’t listen to my professional advice. Thankfully that doesn’t usually happen!


Take a second to talk to future clients, and anyone who works with developers. What advice can you give them?

Make sure the project deliverables a clear. Don’t forget to mention any big functionality till the end.


And speaking of clients, can you talk about some of the client work you’ve enjoyed most?

I’ve done a lot of work on the Chartboost and SumoLogic websites. Whenever I’m telling someone about what I do I’ll show them one of those sites because they look so good.


And that is partially because of your hard work. What do you think makes you good at being a developer?

I’m a fast learner. Also, a big key for me is having fun at work. If I can enjoy building a site and find something fun about it, the whole thing goes really smoothly.


Switching gears for a minute, you talked about how much you love working remotely. If you could live anywhere, where would you go?

Well, I grew up in Taiwan but it’s a little far. I would love to live in New York City. The big city reminds me of home where I grew up. I love the business and how there’s always something going on up there.


Managing A Creative Team

Managing a creative team always has unique challenges.  Managing a creative team while managing a web design project creates an entirely different set of challenges.

Whether you’re a project manager at an agency, an agency client, or working with an in-house team of creatives, you need to know the common challenges of managing a creative team, and how to solve them.

Defined Budgets

Having clear budgets and time allotments are the most important things in having a successful relationship with your creative team members. Having the budget up-front allows your creative folks to do two things:

1. Create an approach that will allow them to meet that budget.

2. Allow them to raise objections to the budget prior to any work actually being completed.

Designers love to design. Sometimes it takes two iterations, sometimes ten.  If not given clear direction, they are going to want to do their best work for you and spend the ten iterations to get that perfect design. Having a clear budget expectation allows a designer to meet the budget as laid out in the proposal.

Your developers might be able to build a feature three different ways. If they have the limits of a budget, it allows them to properly pick a course of action that meets to amount of time available to work on a task.

Everyone wishes budgets didn’t exist, and that there was unlimited time to build the perfect project. Unfortunately, that’s almost never the case – but budgets don’t have to be viewed in a negative light!

Budget conversations provide opportunities for discovering what’s possible. Some agencies call this an upsell, which makes creatives uncomfortable. In reality, it’s an exercise in communicating what all the options are. If a designer or developer can clearly lay out how much time an additional feature might take, it gives the client the opportunity to decide if it is worth spending more money to get exactly what they want.

Defined Timelines

Whether you call it a project plan, a roadmap, or something else, visually laying out the timeline of a project and its deliverables really helps everyone succeed.

Something I personally learned the hard way in managing creative types, is that if you ask them to do something, they are likely to say, “yes,” regardless of availability. I think there are two reasons for this.

First, you are asking them to do design or build something. That’s what they do, that’s what they are passionate about, and if it sounds interesting or fun, they are going to say, “yes,” because they want to work on it.

Second, there’s an ugly trend popping up in the web design industry of getting work done no matter the personal sacrifice. This has led to people being fearful of losing a job because they aren’t willing to commit to an impossible deadline. At UpTrending, we work to have open communication with our team. We encourage them to push back when there isn’t enough time to complete the project or task, and we push for as much work/life balance as possible, because burning our employees out isn’t something that is beneficial for our team or our clients.

By clearly communicating a reasonable timeline to all parties involved, it allows creatives to succeed, makes the client happy to have deadlines met, and makes the company consistently look great. It really is a win-win-win situation!

Designers Design, Developers Develop

This one is bound to cause some controversy, but hear me out!

Even at UpTrending, we have skilled designers who can also develop and talented developers who can design. And yet, design and development are different skill sets. While people are more than capable of having multiple skill sets, usually we find team members excel at either design or development a bit more. From an agency perspective, putting team members in a position where they are able to produce their best allows them to be successful. In turn, their success leads to happy clients and a happy boss.

No Two Projects are the Same

This one really applies to the larger type of agencies. One of the things that can happen at any organization as it grows, is you begin to create reports and data and analytics on your team and their performance. There are a variety of reasons why this is important, but it can quickly lead to putting everyone in a box to meet goals that a management team member came up with.  

Judging a team member’s performance based on one project is a recipe for disaster. There are numerous questions that don’t get answered through reports.

  • Was the project the best fit for the team member’s skills?
  • What particular challenges did this project have that others didn’t?
  • Was the project budgeted correctly to begin with?

Ultimately, you realize that every project is dependent on a number of factors that are outside the control of the designer or developer.

A much better way to measure a team member’s performance is looking to see if they maximized the time they were given; they communicated throughout a project effectively; and they delivered the caliber of work your team expects. These are much more consistent measures of performance that do not always show up in a report.

Understanding Praise

One thing I learned quickly in working with creative team members was how to give them praise that they valued. Here are a few key things that seem to be consistent:  

1. Creatives would prefer you acknowledge the quality of their work, not the speed with which it was done.

2. Even if it was timeline or budget related, praise for a creative solution to a problem needs to go further than, “Thanks for getting me out of that jam.”

3. A simple, “thank you,” goes a million miles, especially when you have asked that person to go above and beyond in some way.

Creatives are People, Too

Ultimately, the key to managing designers, developers, copywriters, videographers and all other types of creative talent is simple: they’re people, just like you.

In the midst of discussions about budgets, timelines, assets, revisions, mockups and quality assurance, just remember that creative people aren’t vending machines, they’re artists. You don’t need to punch in your order and impatiently tap your foot until they deliver a predictable result. Instead, you need to give them the best tools to do their job, and build processes that enable them to focus on their craft with good boundaries.

At the end of the work day, creatives truly love to do what they do. And anything you can do to help them love their job more is going to result in some of the most spectacular work you’ve ever seen.


Featured UpTrender – Jack Perry

This post is part of a series highlighting the talented team of UpTrending. We believe in hiring the best and brightest in all areas of expertise, and it shows in the wide range of personalities and skills we have on our team. But our team members are more than just talented professionals – and you deserve to know them a bit better.

Our Featured UpTrender this month is Jack Perry, one of UpTrending’s premier developers. Jack joined our team in August of 2014. Prior to working with us, he spent time freelancing and in a boutique agency, as well as being an in-house developer at a startup working with nonprofits.


How did you end up as a developer?

I discovered web development and programming in middle school, from an HTML book in the school library. That same day, I went home and made my first website. I was immediately hooked, and dove right into the programming, web, and hacking scenes from there.


Working in such a cutting edge field, do you have trouble explaining your job to people?

I tell them I’m a Web Developer. Most people have at least a general idea so it’s not too painful.


Even so, I’m sure there are times that people don’t understand your role.

Some people think the creation of websites falls under one giant umbrella – that one person is capable of taking a project from concept to final product. A lot of developers can’t design, and a lot of designers can’t develop.


You’ve got a pretty diverse work background – what brings you to UpTrending?

I was drawn to UpTrending by a close friend who was already working here. He’s someone I trust and admire so when I saw how much he really enjoyed working at UpTrending, it piqued my interest. The company culture and talented team helped too, I guess!


What’s the best part of working here?

My coworkers for sure. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented people day in and day out.


And the worst? It can’t all be roses.

Being an introvert in a job where communication is key.


Outside of work, what do you love to do?

Video games are definitely my favorite hobby, but in general I like to think of myself as an entertainment glutton. I am super into movies, TV shows, video games, and comic books. I run home servers for all of those so I can watch things or read comics anywhere in the world on my iPad.


Speaking of anywhere in the world, what is someplace you’d like to live?

That’s a tough question. I’ve wanted to live in Santa Monica for the better half of a decade, so I guess I’d say there.


There’s a lot of developers out there – what do you think helps you stand out?

Perseverance and untamed passion. I started learning web development when I was twelve with the full support of my family. Can’t stop, won’t stop.


Speak to someone just getting started in development. What advice can you give them?

I would hope they are doing so because they love the idea of problem-solving. Critical thinking and problem-solving are so paramount to success in this field.

Experimentation is one of the best ways to learn so just build something. Even if you do something wrong, if you’re passionate you’ll find a method to accomplish your goal. You’ll learn the right way, which hopefully you can continue to pursue, and the wrong way, which you can recognize the next time a similar challenge arises.


In terms of problem-solving, how do you approach your projects?

Get a full scope of work and discuss the specifics line by line, taking extra notes along the way as needed. There are so many small intricacies to the way each client works that no project is ever the same as the ones you’ve done previously, even in the same client industry.


And what’s your ideal work scenario?

I work best on projects where I’m given the breathing room to “go dark” (within reason of course) with my head down on a big feature or page. I love when one of my Project Managers tells me I have a large chunk of hours to get something done and not to worry about anything else. By the way, my Project Managers freaking rock.


So the best way for a client or PM working with someone like you is to give you lots of space. What else?

Be specific and transparent. There is nothing worse than being told one thing, and later finding out something else that you should have been told in the beginning. I always do my best to foresee every scenario when I am working on something, but if there is information that is pertinent to predicting those things that I’m not privy to, that creates problems.


Alright, last question: something interesting or surprising people might not guess about you.

Most people don’t know that I’m British, even after meeting me. Also that I have two middle names.


Coffee Shop Etiquette

Coffee shops can be amazing. They can also become the bane of a remote worker’s existence.

Working remotely allows for a ton of freedom from where you can be creative. You can work practically anywhere with Wi-Fi (and caffeine), which makes the concept of coffee shops amazing. You can leave the house, grab a good cup of coffee, sit outside on a beautiful day, and enjoy conversations with people other than your dog.

On the other hand, coffee shops can be a pain sometimes – usually not due to the actual coffee shop, but the people around you.

Our remote team frequents coffee shops all over the United States. So it’s easy to say that we have experienced some frustrating and hilarious moments at them. We have compiled a list to make sure you’re not “that guy” at coffee shops.

Warning: If you do all of these things, we secretly hate you.



Don’t sit in a bad location.
Entering a coffee shop, you have a very akward 1-5 minutes immediately after you step in the front door. Find a table, quick. Oh, and everyone is watching you.

Your hunt needs to be quick and effective. Here are the things to look for:

      • Near outlets
      • Not right beside the cash register line
      • Not blinded by the sun
      • Not near the bathroom (Remember, coffee is a natural laxative)
      • Not where ‘creepy people’ can approach you (Personal experience…)
      • Not next to a huge table of women (Run away! It’s a Mary-Kay party and they will be there all day)

Don’t sit at a stranger’s table.
It’s not an open seat. Personal space says, “You can’t sit here, this seat’s taken.” You wouldn’t sit at an occupied booth at Chili’s – don’t do it at a coffee shop.

Don’t set your laptop down and then go order.
Swiper, no swiping!” doesn’t work in the real world. Instead of setting down your expensive laptop to claim that empty table, throw a couple of notebooks and pens down to save your seat while you order. If those get taken or moved, your life will go on. Not so much for your laptop.

Don’t sit at a large table or take up two tables.
Other people are trying to find places to sit. When there is one of you versus a group of five people trying to find seats, you will look like the jerk that took the six-person table. If it is not a large single seater “community” table, don’t sit there…it’s a trap.

Don’t make an obstacle course with your stuff.
No one wants to Double Dutch jump rope with your laptop cord. Also, obstacles + steaming hot coffee = disaster.

Don’t hog all of the power outlets.
Go the extra mile and bring your own power strip. We promise you will be popular.


Don’t use your outside voice inside.
We can hear you loud and clear…meaning, we know for a fact that the person on the other end of the phone can, too.

Don’t forget to bring your headphones.
The best way to block out noise is by adding your own. (It might not be the peace and quiet you want, but you went to a coffee shop.)

Come prepared. Buy 2-3 cheap extra ear buds and put them in your car, laptop bag, or purse/man-bag…just in case.

Don’t “forget” to plug your headphones in.
We don’t want to hear your techno music. If you didn’t listen to the advice above and forgot them, don’t try to listen to your own music out loud.

Don’t give parents with loud/crying kids the death stare.
It sucks. I get it. Their kids are running around and screaming while you are trying to work…but I promise, the parents need coffee more than you do. Take a deep breath. It won’t last long. They will order and leave.


Don’t camp out and not buy anything.
FYI, ordering water doesn’t count.

Don’t forget your manners.
Tip the barista. Say “please” and “thank you.” Clean up your space when you’re done.

Don’t take someone else’s coffee.
Duh. That’s not how you make friends on the playground.

Don’t complain to the barista if the Wi-Fi is awful.
They are not the IT guy. People go there for the coffee, not the Wi-Fi. Cross it off your coffee shop list and move on. Also, be careful, because some coffee shops’ Wi-Fi will “time out” during peak hours (usually only if they also serve lunch and dinner). Be aware of this before you order and get comfortable. Checking Yelp before going to a new coffee shop helps to avoid hindrances like that.

Don’t stay until they kick you out.
Don’t stay until someone has to come tap you on the shoulder and ask you to leave. The polite thing to do is leave 15 minutes or earlier before closing time.



(Yes, that’s actually me, in my favorite brew house, The Well Coffeehouse. If you’re ever in Nashville, check them out!)

Sidenote: If you realize coffee shops are not your “thing,” and prefer to work from home, try the Coffitivity app to get the background noise of a coffee shop without the pain points of actually being there. Great for white noise and productivity for a quiet day at home (and you can turn down the volume if it is too loud).


Why You Shouldn’t Work with a Virtual Agency

Choosing the right agency is a big deal. It is often overwhelming, stressful, and filled with lofty (occasionally empty) promises.

Cities are increasingly crowded with digital agencies fighting for relevance, battling for new accounts and trying to separate themselves from the rest. And recently, virtual agencies have burst into the market, offering businesses another agency option.

You might be considering working with a virtual agency, or this may be completely new to you. In either case, let’s take a look at a few factors that may determine whether or not a virtual agency is the right fit for you.

You shouldn’t work with a virtual agency if…

    1. In-person meetings are of high importance to you. Hand shakes. Eye contact. Power stance. If the psychological mind games played in the boardroom are the highlight of your afternoon, you’ll hate having a remote partner.
    2. You love conference rooms and whiteboards. Dry erase markers are really cool, and we understand if you just can’t give them up. Screensharing a presentation from your own desk just isn’t the same.
    3. You want drinks and eats at every meeting. Bagels, mixed nuts, and cheese trays are the swag bags of having an agency partner. However, if you’re working with a virtual firm, you’ll have to BYOB.
    4. You love travelling around your city. You’ll have meetings, whether you choose a local agency or a remote one. The difference is the travel. Those 15-30 minute trips each way can be a breath of fresh air in your work day…or not.
    5. You’re positive that your exact geographical area represents the best available talent. We’re not naming any names here, but there are some cities that are positive they have the market cornered on creative talent. I mean, if someone was good, they’d certainly move there…right?
    6. Your team has perfectly synced calendars. If getting all the decision makers in the car and across town once a week isn’t a problem, then being able to call in from any phone or computer for a meeting won’t seem like much of a benefit.
    7. You are comfortable using unfamiliar toilets. What is it about meetings that inevitably make you have to visit new restrooms?

You should work with a virtual agency if…

    1. You like to have a high level of communication. For virtual agencies, it’s much easier to coordinate schedules for meetings, since everything is done from a phone or computer. Being remote means that absolutely everything has to be written down, stored and shared, which is great for keeping track of communications.
    2. You live in your inbox. With a remote partner, you can balance most of your work needs from in front of your computer. Don’t want to talk to an Account Manager to get access to information? You just log into the project management system and see for yourself. And the majority of your communication is going to be via email – so no more phone tag.
    3. The outcome is more important to you than the outfit. You don’t care about the “prestige” of working with an agency that has swanky office space filled with bearded men wearing flannel shirts buttoned to the top, hanging fixie bikes, full sleeve tattoos, standing desks, wall typography, Indie Spotify playlists or Herman Miller chairs. You just care about selecting an agency that will deliver the goods.
    4. You value efficiency, access and results. Good virtual agencies remove many barriers and give clients full access into all parts of the process, providing increased visibility and transparency. Since results matter and your ass is on the line, you don’t want guess-work or agency speak. You just want to know where, when and how things are running at all times.
    5. You appreciate intentionality and scrutiny. Running a successful virtual agency requires deliberate and intentionality in all things. Meetings, communication, storage, documentation, billing, etc. Because it seems “too good to be true,” virtual firms often overcompensate to prove value and professionalism to their clients.
    6. Competitive rates are a priority for you. Ever wonder if your traditional agency charges so much because they want to build another “think tank” room or hardwood conference table?
    7. Your “typical hours” aren’t typical. Virtual agencies span all time zones and the work day is predicated on client need. That’s a real boon when you send an email at 4:45 PM, and know that your developer two time zones over has several hours left to get back to you.

Listen, we know that a virtual agency isn’t right for everyone.

You need to know what’s important to you when choosing to engage with any agency. Talent, budget, style, portfolio and trust are all going to factor into a your selection process. If you know what matters to your company (and what doesn’t), then it’s easier to choose the best fit for your needs.

Trust us, you don’t want to rush this step. You’ll be happier in the long run if you spend a little more time on this choice.

Does working with a virtual agency sound like a great fit? We’d love to be on your shortlist. Drop us a line, and we’ll stay in touch.



Featured UpTrender – Ashley Mittiga

This post is part of a series highlighting the talented team of UpTrending. We believe in hiring the best and brightest in all areas of expertise, and it shows in the wide range of personalities and skills we have on our team. But our team members are more than just talented professionals – and you deserve to know them a bit better.

This month, we get to talk with Ashley Mittiga, a member of our Project Management team. Ashley has been an UpTrender since early 2015, and before that, spent time working both in-house and in agency environments.

Give us the 15-second version of your job.

I manage people and I grow gray hair.

Gray hair?

Part of my job is not being able to have control over certain variables. As a project manager, I try to put the pieces of the puzzle together in record time. I am constantly trying to think ahead and predict how things will go and avoid chaos and trouble – but sometimes it just happens, no matter how well you plan.

And when it does, it means delivering bad news to somebody, be that a client or team member. I’m getting better at that part, but it will always be a struggle with me – I don’t like delivering bad news. Who does?

Sounds exhausting. How did you find yourself in this role?

I fell face-first into it. After getting a marketing degree and a masters in business, I thought I would be a big city slicker and work in the fashion industry. Somehow, something didn’t go as planned and I ended up working in HR for a tree service.

Fast forward to present day, and I feel like I blinked and I am here in this position. Not entirely sure how I landed here, but I think I may have found something that I really love to do, and that has silenced my inner desire to be the next Rachel Zoe.

Sounds like serendipity to me.

The funny thing about being in the project management field is that I don’t actually think anyone goes out seeking one of these jobs. Every project manager I have ever met somehow just “fell” into the position. It’s not glamorous, but it takes a very specific skillset – a ton of patience, the ability to deal with things that are often out of your control, and the ability to be incredibly creative when approaching situations.

So what brought you to UpTrending?

I actually stalked UpTrending for a while before I even knew they had a position available. After reading about the team, seeing the work, and learning more about the industries they focus on, I decided to be that creepy person who blindly reaches out and says, “Hey, want to work together?”

Ignoring the premature aging, what’s the best part of your job?

Starting a fresh project is almost like getting to start a new job every time. So my job is always fresh and new and no day is ever the same. I love that my days fly by and I forget to eat lunch or look up at the clock.

What’s your unique approach to project management?

I think I approach every new project like a first date, except good or bad, we still have to go on a second one!

Every project has its own personality. Every team works differently together and every client wants things done differently. The key is being able to get acclimated to all of those variables and finding a process that works. I can usually switch gears quickly and change it up if a process isn’t working right for a particular project.

What is a way that your job delivers personal and professional satisfaction for you?

On my second day at UpTrending, I started a new project. I feel like I didn’t really know what I was doing, so thankfully the client was absolutely amazing and made the struggles, the long days, the crazy deadlines, the multiple daily meetings, and the weekend phone calls all worth it. At the end of two months, I remember being awake for 24 hours and turning the switch for both sites, which we launched on the same day. It felt like the countdown to the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve.

There are also just times that give you a good feeling. Those usually happen when a client comes back with praise about the team, or when something we did causes them to hit their target goals. I get excited when clients love designs or are generally just really happy with the results of something our team did. I reward myself with some wine every time that happens!

Sticking with satisfaction, as an UpTrender, you can live anywhere in the United States. But if you could live anywhere on the globe, where would you land?

I think it would be Ireland or Italy. Although, I have never been to either one, so whether or not those are the spots for me, I’m not sure.

I think a more accurate answer would be I would love to live anywhere out in the country, like on a vineyard or a farm. But I am also afraid of the dark, so I would spend the daylight hours there and then I would have to sleep in an apartment in a gated community with a security guard.

What’s a common misconception or myth about Project Managers?

The belief that we just sit around and tell people what to do all day – basically, that we are paper pushers. Luckily, nobody prints anymore, so I think that rumor is dispelled.

Also, I can see where it would be easy to assume that we just put our feet up all day. At times, I wish that was the case! In reality, what we do is really hard to put into something tangible. A lot of what we do is behind the scenes. We basically organize the daily chaos and make sure the client doesn’t see any of that.

Speaking of unseen things, what is something most people wouldn’t guess about you?

I can’t stand to watch anyone eat alone – it ruins my meal. I wanted to start a “call a friend for lunch” program where lonely people could dine with other lonely people, but then I realized it’s a little creepy. I guess that’s what dating services are for.

Give some advice to everyone out there who works with a Project Manager like yourself.

The only key to working with me is communicating with me in every aspect. Knowing all of the details throughout a project helps me better communicate with the client, stand up for my team members when I need to, and get to know what is going on with my team on every level.

Also, teach me things I don’t know that can help me. I always want to get better. I always want to be resourceful to my team, so I know that requires me to always be on my toes and to always be learning.

If you think working with Ashley (and the rest of our awesome team) sounds good, check out our job opportunities. We’d love to have you become our next Featured UpTrender!


Distributed Teams Acquire The Best Talent

The distributed workforce isn’t new to the technology scene, and the concept’s success has been well-proven. There are over 50 well-known companies that are completely distributed; names you’d recognize like:

We use many of these company’s products here at UpTrending, and you may, too. It could even be argued that some of the best products and services come from companies with a partially or completed distributed workforce (but that’s a different article).

So why hasn’t the distributed model truly taken a hold in the mainstream economy?

Is it the fear of individual accountability? Fear of losing face-to-face interaction to build relationships? Fear of communication breakdowns, or reliance on technology?

It mostly seems to be related to fear of the unknown.

Our Experience

For us, being remote was a no-brainer. Since our founding in 2008, UpTrending has been a distributed, U.S.-based workforce. We are in the digital realm; it is what we live and breathe as a company and as individuals. This is where we are comfortable.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we as a company benefit from a distributed workforce:

1. No limits to finding talent

We are not geographically challenged to find the talent we need to service our company and client needs. All you need to work here is a solid skillset, a desire to produce great work, and a speedy internet connection. We do seek to hire U.S.-based talent, as a 3-hour time difference from east to west coast has been little to no barrier for us to overcome with clients or team members.

2. Unique work environments for individuals to thrive

Each person on our team has different needs when it comes to environments that promote their maximum productivity. Whether it is a co-working space, a coffee shop, a cold, dark room, a comfy couch or recliner…the ability to offer up what works best for them has been crucial to our productivity. Also, identifying how our team works best, whether it is heads-down time in the morning, a little bit of playtime in the afternoon…it is all on the table and attainable. We are not focused on our team sitting at their desk from 9am-5pm every day. We focus on the work they turn out, not where they get it done.

3. Better work/life balance

One of the most common factors that non-remote employees complain about is the office commute. I know it was my least favorite part about my last job. Not having to wear business casual clothing, drive an hour to work, sit in a cold office from 8:30am-5:30pm, and sit in an hour of traffic again is, in and of itself, a huge bonus of this job and a huge win for me. Outside of that, our distributed team environment also comes with the advantage of flex time and scheduling.

Flex time is huge for our employees, especially those with families or interests outside of work. Being able to take a few hours in the morning to spend time with kids, or to cut out early to attend a school play, or to work at night to be able to surprise your husband for lunch in the afternoon gives our team the ability to have control over their lives, instead of feeling like they are just living to work.

In addition to flex time, our team also creates their own schedules when it comes to meetings with clients. We suggest our team work in the hours that work for them. Of course, we are a service-based company, so there needs to be a level of understanding there, but we do not expect or require our team to work over 40 hours a week, or on weekends.

4. Low overhead

We don’t have to support a staff of 25+ in an office with the typical expenditures accrued in that setting. Lucky us! However, we still make sure our team is equipped with the essentials for the job.

5. Early adoption of latest technologies

Because we are always digital, our team is on top of new tools to improve our communication and workflow. We don’t just stick with IE8 because that is what the whole company is on and has been on for years. We participate in beta releases and early testing of the latest and greatest platforms to streamline communication, workflow, and a growing remote company culture.

6. Increased collaboration and communication

Whether it’s email, Slack, Basecamp or another method to get stuff done, we are forced to communicate, and communicate often with our teams. We have all worked in the typical office setting where you barely interact with your coworkers – but not here! We are constantly on Slack, screen-sharing in Hangouts, sending pictures of our lunch, making custom emojis that fit our daily conversations, and sending hysterical gifs for a daily laugh and break from the work.

For real though, we communicate, which is why our projects end up on time and on budget. And our team and clients are happy.

These are just a few of the many benefits we have as a company with a distributed team. Don’t even get me started on the amazing culture we have built and the exceptional team of talent we have. I could go all day.

Sounds Great…Now What?

If you are interested in knowing more about our team, how we work, why we continue to love what we do…feel free to email me any time. I will sing all day about the benefits of working for a distributed company and how awesome it is to have a life AND a full-time job as a working mom.

Or, if you’re ready to make the jump to full-time remote yourself, check out our job opportunities. Working remotely is just one of the many reasons our team members love being a part of UpTrending.


The Web Designer’s Guide to Plaid

If you look in my closet, you’ll see a common “thread” – plaid. My collection has been growing for years now, and it’s not surprising why I’m drawn to this style.

When you break it down, many of the features that make up plaid, I use in web design every day: color, pattern, and cultural reference. Let’s take a look at plaid from the eyes of a designer.



One of the key elements in a good plaid shirt is color. There are infinite color combinations in plaid shirts, which may be why I’m so drawn to them. Shopping for them creates an endless search for “what’s new.” Depending on the type of store you frequent, your palettes will change (ex. Pacific Sunwear vs. Ralph Lauren).

Depending on the person, color combinations can range from conservative “neutral/muted” to an extreme “vibrant/energetic.” This color choice in a person’s clothing tells a story about them:

  • Do warm or cool hues reflect your personality?
  • Do you gravitate towards neutrals, or go all out?
  • How many shades of blue are there in your closet?

Being able to mix 2-6 colors can produce really interesting results and create a unique look and feel. Within a plaid pattern, you’ll see these mixed colors when the bands of horizontal and vertical color overlap.

Most of my plaids are on the cooler side with bright “pops” of color. I’m typically drawn to tertiary color mixes of blues, greens, and blacks, which go well in most places I go – but I do have a few warmer shirts that dive into the yellow and red families for the right occasion. Living in a mountain community, I’ve noticed a trend in darker base color bands, accented by subtle uses of bright color bands.



Patterns say a lot about the individual…how experimental in your plaid patterns are you?

The patterns can vary, but are all built on the concept of layering a horizontal and vertical band to produce a halftone mixture. Depending on the material and overall style choice, the twill can also affect the texture of the overlap, creating a halftone pattern. A thicker twill will create a more visible diagonal pattern. I’ve noticed this halftone/crosshatch technique in fine art as well as digital art. I like the connection between the physical woven thread of a shirt and the digital translation to pixels. As a designer, being able to control this can give depth to overall flat/square shapes.

Working with the elements of plaid, designers can produce really unique looks. Some of the key design elements include: squares, rectangles, lines, thickness, thinness, alternating or symmetric patterns. The designer has the freedom to experiment with these to create a cool, dynamic visual rhythm.



Over the years, an evolution in style can be seen in those who wear plaid. It has been an influential style since the 1500s, when it was worn to distinguish one Scottish clan or region from another. Plaid has often been associated with being a rebel, and staking your claim as an individual.

Some more modern adoptions of plaid have been:

Grunge Rockers
  • Muted colors, blocky symmetrical patterns, simple design.
Skaters, Snowboarders, Surfers
  • Dark colors with bright accents, combinations of thick and thin shapes, asymmetrical patterns, complex design.
  • Ranges from conservative (pale or pastel colors, smaller bands of color) to extreme (bold or vibrant colors, larger bands of color).
  • Limited color palette, simple checkerboard pattern, thick twill (diagonal pattern).
  • Lighter colors, small symmetrical patterns, traditional approach to overlapping shapes.

Each of these distinct groups carry a unique “look” in their plaid. Variations in the color palette, width of the bands, and tightness of the pattern are ultimately associated with a particular type of audience.

After all, whether choosing a shirt or picking colors for a website, being able to represent yourself through color, pattern, and texture is all about appealing to a certain type of crowd.


Want to design your own?

If you’re ready to ditch boring single-color displays and explore the wide, wonderful world of plaid, here are some great places to start your education and exploration: