Emerson Taymor is a serial entrepreneur, investor and currently a founding partner of Philosophie, a digital product studio that helps technology leaders break down big ideas into iterative experiments. He is passionate about building technology that works for us. He has 15 years of experience shipping and consulting on hundreds of projects.
1. What is Philosophie?
Philosophie is a team of designers and engineers that helps companies bring their digital ideas to life extremely quickly. We do this by taking big ideas and breaking them into weekly experiments that we test with real users. Since we started in 2009 we’ve worked with over 300 companies and worked on thousands of projects across all industries. Our clients range from Fortune 500 enterprises all the way down to early stage startups.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Philosophie?
My co-founder Skot and I both were freelance designers all through high school and university. We met at UCLA and were friends. We decided to join forces and see what we could build together when I was in my last year at UCLA – this was with the backdrop of the Global Financial Crisis. We moonlighted at first, me being at college and Skot having a full-time job, but had enough clients and money saved up so when I graduated we could do it full-time. We got an apartment that was a bit bigger and the front was our office and the back was our living space. We barely made enough money to make ends meet, but we pushed! After the first year in the apartment, we got our first office which was a small co-working space (pre WeWork days) and grew organically from there. Each year we moved to a bigger office and expanded our team. In 2012 I moved to NYC to expand our operations from LA to also include NYC. Throughout the almost twelve years, our process evolved many times over the years as we met more people and worked on more projects.
3. How did coronavirus impact your company and what lessons would you take from it?
Skot and I have been expecting a recession for a couple years, although definitely did not expect for it to look anything like what happened. We sold the company in October of last year to an amazing global enterprise development firm, InfoBeans, to better prepare ourselves in the case something should happen!
We’re in services business, so we definitely had a number of projects that fell off due to the pandemic. Sales are still slow compared to where they are historically and it definitely takes more effort than before.
Fortunately, we are well prepared for remote work and our culture and operations team have done a phenomenal job of supporting staff and experimenting with new techniques to keep people connected despite being fully remote.
We’re trying to reposition our sales story to industries and projects that are more likely to happen in a pandemic inflicted recession, and I’m not sure if we’ve fully nailed that yet!
4. What is the future of Philosophie?
Since we were acquired in October we are hoping to further cement ourselves and what we do! We think we have an amazing process that helps reduce waste in enterprise software creation. Our hope is now that we have a big offshore team behind us that we can double down on the experimental product work and then expand more deeply into the projects that are validated by scaling them within organizations. It’s a very exciting time for us as we try to really nail this co-shoring process. Tons of learning and opportunity ahead.
5. What advice would you give to young budding entrepreneurs?
Today is a great time to start a business. There are so many tools and services that can get you to market quickly. You’ll learn SO much starting a company, likely more than you ever expected or you could in any other company! I would boil down a lot of my suggestions to:
- Don’t start a company expecting to get rich quick. Do it because you are passionate and want to learn. Running a company is extremely hard work. It is stressful and there aren’t a lot of great support systems. You are much more likely to make more money and have a more relaxing life going through existing corporate structures than starting a business, so get in it for the right reasons.
- Experiment and fail fast! You can test so many concepts quickly! Don’t fall into the build trap and build and build before launching anything. Try to get to market as quickly as possible and be OK with failing. You’ll inevitably fail a ton, but if you don’t get anything to market you won’t know what resonates and won’t work.
- Have fun, be creative and work hard. There are a lot of things you can’t control with your success, but there are some things you can. You can work harder then your competitors. You can try more things and take bigger risks than them. Take some shots and if they don’t work out – who cares? Just gives you more learning for your next experiment!
We would like to thank Emerson for speaking with us.