Craigslist, Nice Websites and Great Clients: The Makeway Story

April 24, 2020

Our founders met on Craigslist.

There, we said it. We’re not ashamed to admit it. But before you question their intentions, we should add some context. Here’s the story of how Makeway came to be an award-winning digital-first agency that works with iconic brands like Aramark, Nalgene, Purina, and Nationwide Insurance.

We Make Nice Websites

We weren’t kidding about the whole Craigslist thing. And it wasn’t even that awkward. One of our co-founders, Josh, posted an ad saying “Graphic Designer for Websites needed (Rochester, NY).” Our other co-founder, Greg, replied and they agreed to meet up. Hey, it was 2009, people did that sort of thing back then.

They hit it off with a shared vision. At the time, there were a lot of broad agencies focused on advertising and IT, but there weren’t many dedicated solely to making nice websites. So Josh and Greg set out to fill the void. It was a simple plan, and the company practically named itself: We Make Nice Websites. Seriously, that was our name for the first five years or so.

In those early days, the company was practically based out of a Starbucks in western New York. Josh and Greg met for a couple hours at a time, trying to figure out how a pair of twenty-somethings were going to build a business from scratch—during the Great Recession, no less. We won’t bore you with the details of how they scrapped and hustled to make it happen, but suffice it to say We Make Nice Websites took things one client and one project at a time.

Fast forward to 2014 and We Make Nice Websites had reached a crossroads. Clients definitely still wanted nice websites, but there was clearly a need for great design and brand-building through other technology solutions. It was time for the little two-man operation to leave its cocoon and go out into the world as a beautiful butterfly.

It was time to think bigger.

 

Makeway is born

What happens when you’re named We Make Nice Websites and you’re about to expand beyond websites? You make a new name.

Josh and Greg needed something to reflect the expansion beyond that core service (and their home base in Rochester). Something that paid homage to the original identity and, importantly, embodied a sense of expertise and confidence that clients were coming to appreciate. Enter Makeway.

It wasn’t just the name. Like a pubescent teenager, everything was changing. They started building out a team of incredibly talented people, opened an office in Columbus, Ohio, and added new services—mobile application and touchscreen development—that’s become a big part of what Makeway does today.

At the risk of getting too case-studyish (and sappy) up in here, we’ll just say this: Makeway wouldn’t be where we are without those early risks.

 

To Ten and Beyond

As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we’ve become a bigger company with a broader purpose—empowering brands by leveraging technology—but we’ll never lose sight of what got us here. Working collaboratively alongside clients.

During the first decade, we were building the ship as we sailed it. Just a scrappy little agency born out of a Craigslist ad, running on enthusiasm and coffee.

Today we’re proud to have been given the opportunity to work on more than 300 projects with over 180 clients across just about every industry imaginable. We couldn’t be more grateful to those who’ve entrusted us with their brands. We love what we do precisely because we respect and enjoy the brands we work with as much as the people and passion behind them. Magic really does happen when you work collaboratively with clients to help tell their stories.

Since day one, our company has been focused on leveraging technology to create custom solutions perfectly tailored to our clients and we’ll continue to do that for the next 10 years and beyond. Every project is unique and made for you. Never templated, never repeatable. Just telling your story the best way possible.

We’ll continue to evolve, for sure. Someday we’ll recall how our business survived and thrived through a global pandemic. And how we helped others do the same.

From Craigslist to Starbucks to offices in two cities, we’re proud to say we’ve grown to become an award-winning digital-first agency with a decade worth of design, development, and problem-solving experience.

And the best is yet to come.