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The past year has been a blur of engrossing project work and internal changes. We finished a bunch of creatively challenging work, completely refined our processes, added two talented people to our staff, and Shaun bought an ambulance which he calls his “Stuntmobile”. What more could any business want?

So far, 2013 is shaping up to be another solid year and we could not be more excited to build on our successes. I thought I’d share where we’ve come from so you can understand what motivates us today.

BIO started as a loose partnership between two companies, Notion Design (my company) and Bio Design Works (Shaun’s company). In prior our prior work lives Shaun and I came from formative yet dysfunctional workplaces. We sought to create our own utopias just past the borders of our previous employers. Even today, creating a comfortable work environment free from the conflict and drama of our past workplaces is an important goal for us.

Together we did some great web design, with my company doing all the coding and Shaun the design. For just shy of a decade, we worked separately toward different goals even while we shared a single office. I suppose we thought two brands would cast a wider net from which more opportunities would come. Eventually it became obvious two brands was doing more harm than good. After explaining the relationship to prospective clients we were met with blank stares and confused questions. The two brand approach had to go.

After reviewing our past near-decade of client work, we could see what we were collectively offering. It wasn’t just web design, it was far more: we offered significant marketing and digital strategy to client. With that in mind we merged into BIO, a digital marketing agency offering a wealth of experience and creativity combined with strong technical capability. The benefits of the merger were immediate, resulting in refined sales, creative, and production processes. We were leaner and more efficient than ever before. Most importantly, we were all going in the same direction.

It took a lot of work to get where we are today, merging two small businesses is actually harder than it seems. Culture fit is a challenge that can’t be ignored. If you take a bunch of music loving creatives who enjoy belting out tunes all day and mix them with focus driven developers and administrators, you might be in for a rough time. For us, we knew our company cultures worked well together, since we had worked together for so long. For other companies considering a merger it might be harder to align the goals and interests of two (or more) companies into one. Even with our considerable history together, Shaun and I still find time to fight about little stuff. Throw in some employees, a mixed bag of processes and software practices and things start to get really challenging.