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Why I joined Third & Grove: The Future of Digital Agencies

Jun 21 '18

Hello. My name is Sean. I’m the new Managing Director at Third & Grove.

Sean Larkin

My Background

A few of you reading this might already know me from the Drupal community. For the last twelve years, I’ve helped social-impact companies leverage open source tools, like Drupal, to share their message digitally. For seven years, I was the CEO and co-founder of ThinkShout, an award-winning agency in Portland, OR, that provides strategy, design, and engineering services to some of the most influential and inspiring nonprofits in the world. As part of that team, I had the opportunity to help dozens of organizations raise millions of dollars online.

In the fall of 2015, I came to a crossroads in my career and personal life: I was running an agency that to this day I deeply love in Portland. But I’d also recently become a father to a beautiful little human in Denver, CO. After a lot of conversation with my co-founder (read: a lot of beers and more than a few tears), I came to the conclusion that it was time for me to leave ThinkShout to focus on my family.

Coincidentally, during that same period, I met this smart-as-a-tack entrepreneur named Justin Emond at an Owners’ Camp gathering. While we mostly talked about the virtues of raw denim jeans and beer (are you getting a theme here?), we discussed agency life, corporate values, and scaling professional services teams.

Over the last three years, Justin and I would sync up and chat every few months. Justin would share his thoughts on topics such as the future of Ecommerce and BlockChain technology. As a stay-at-home dad and urban farming consultant, I’d share my experiences raising backyard livestock and making goat milk soaps in my kitchen...Suffice it to say, our lives seemed to be on different trajectories: Justin and the TAG team were busy building some of the largest Ecommerce solutions on the Internet; I was helping local Colorado farmers and small value-added product companies grow their businesses.

Through my consulting work with farmers and producers, I slowly found myself drawn back into the world of online marketing and digital commerce. As much as I love working in my local community with small business owners, I came to the realization this spring that I wasn’t ready to leave the agency world for good -- and more importantly that I was still inspired by working on large-scale digital projects.

Why I joined TAG: The Future of Digital Agencies

In getting back into the game, I considered working for a number of digital agencies and technology product companies. Ultimately, I was drawn to TAG for three reasons:

  1. I wanted to work with a team is approachable, while still being the smartest folks in the room. I’ve found that with TAG. This team’s engineering work, particularly in the Drupal-Magento space, could not be higher caliber. At the same time, the team prioritizes people over technology and puts its customers first.

  2. TAG isn’t afraid of change. Ironically, the digital agency world is full of tin gods -- driven largely by companies trying to differentiate themselves based upon niche tools and dogma regarding best practices. Don’t get me wrong, the TAG team is highly opinionated (I mean, highly highly), but it works because its founders, Justin and Tony, are pragmatic problem solvers. Ego doesn’t drive the corporate culture on this team. If you’re right, you’re right. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. This dispassion allows for flexibility and deeper creativity.

  3. TAG understands the future of digital agencies. This point is most important to me. While I love the fact that TAG has built some of the largest Drupal-based ecommerce sites on the Web, our team sees the writing on the wall: Open source content management systems and ecommerce platforms are not the future. These platforms and the communities supporting them solved some of the most complex problems on the Internet. However, SaaS (software as a service) products like Contentful (a headless CMS) and Shopify (a leading ecommerce platform) are taking these tools to the next level with brilliant user experiences and coordinated strategies for implementation. The next generation of digital agencies, like TAG, will need to be nimble and provide a broad array of services that help customers launch websites and stores quickly on these platforms. They will need a strong focus on design and strategy. Their technical expertise will need to focus on complex integration platform integrations.

My Role at TAG

As the Managing Director at TAG, my focus will be on providing potential customers with unbiased recommendations regarding the strategies and technologies that will help them take their brands to the next level. To be blunt, I’m a sales guy. But we don’t approach sales in a pitchy fashion. Our goal is to add value in every conversation we have with both our existing and future customers.

I am particularly excited to help customers understand the potential of Shopify Plus, our preferred enterprise ecommerce platform. Shopify Plus has cut the development costs for a best-in-class ecommerce site in half. I couldn’t be prouder to sell less of our services. ;)

If you’re interested in learning more about TAG, please give me a shout. I’d love to connect, or reconnect, as the case may be.