Big Isn't Beautiful Any More. 


Recently two agencies with similar models opened their doors in Amsterdam: One Big Agency and The Big Mix. The fact that both agencies use "Big " in their names illustrates the paradox of collaborative creativity; you don't need many employees to be a big agency anymore. Harry Kramp and creative director Wouter Kiewiet de Jonge are The Big Mix. Kramp, a highly respected copywriter with over 40 years of experience, worked as ceo at JWT Amsterdam (and its predecessor) most of his life. Wouter Kiewiet de Jonge also worked at JWT….


Published in Adage on January 12, 2011.

By Wouter Boon. 


The passage above is about The Big Mix. Our small agency with a business model based on working with freelancers only. Big agency level work, without Big agency level costs, because hardly any overheads. 


It was 2011. The 2008 financial crisis started to hit the creative industry badly. Clients were spending less and therefore we chose this way of working. On top of that, we also started to work more cost effectively with our network of freelancers. We didn't hire them for a full day, but started to purchase creativity by the hour. 


In the beginning freelancers came to our office to work there for at least a day. It was 2011. That's how it went, but we didn't need them to work there for a full days. What we needed was routes, ideas and insights only, because we are creative directors and had 3 in-house designers, finalizing ideas and making concepts presentable was something we could do ourselves. A brainstorm of 1 or 2 hours with the creatives was enough for us. 


But what freelancer is coming to your office to brainstorming ideas for 1 or 2 hours? No Freelancer. They want to sell themselves for a full day. Makes sense. So  what we did was, we started hiring freelance creatives for short brainstorm sessions after their working day or during their lunch break. Monetizing brain picking, we called it. 

In addition to all your other work, you can now fill in those 2 spare hours. 300 euros for a 2 hour brainstorm. That, freelancers were interested in. And for those 2 hours were very valuable. This way of working lead years later to the initial idea of BrainWith.


That idea, just arose one day. We thought, why shouldn’t we make a platform where we can brainstorm ideas with everyone we work with over live video. And do all the payments online too, so no-one has to make invoices for 2 hours all the time. It was a thought to make our way of working more convenient for us and the freelancer. On top of that, we both don’t have to travel anymore.  


And then we thought, maybe if this way of working is convenient for us, why shouldn't it be convenient  for other agencies or for marketers of brands who want to brainstorm a second opinion in a few hours. In 5 minutes the idea was born. 5 minutes later we had the name and a couple of yearslater the product what it is today. But still in progress. Always. 


Building, testing and listening to the market at the same time. It took time, but we battled through to a first version. We had something workable. Time to recruit the best creatives and after that go the clients. We did. We had the creatives and went to clients to business. Clients were very enthusiastic about the idea. The Uber of advertising, the Airbnb of advertising, disruptive, scalable. Great idea! But no one used it. Great idea, but not a great business idea yet. It seemed they didn’t want to brainstorm ideas over live video, but were interested in hiring creatives from the platform to work with in person on location.  


The traditional way of working with freelancers.  Not exactly how we first started the idea, but we started developing again. The market forced us to make the idea, a business idea. On to version 2. 


Making wireframes, designing and coding. The idea wasn't about creative directors who could be hired for short effective brainstorm sessions anymore. No, It was now about working directly with creatives, either over live video, e-mail or in person. That was our new positioning. We added new categories: designers, strategists and video makers. We added a new e-mailing system and new payment system.  BrainWith was now becoming a platform like UpWork, but then through a creative lens. 


Back to the market. Back to the same potential clients. Still a fantastic idea, but not being used. Not like Upwork is used. Finding freelancers yourselves and work with them directly.


But what happened now was that clients started to give us jobs. We kept on saying that working on BrainWith is working cost effectively with the best creatives in the industry. If you don’t exactly know how to use the platform or your familiar with the way you have been working for years, brief us then, we will work on BrainWith for you. We save you cash and you get great work. 


That, clients became interested in. We got jobs coming in. After all this time we found a business model. A business model that we already had years back with The Big Mix, but then in the offline world. With BrainWith everything atomized. No hassle with invoices and we have an international pool of creatives in every category where we can choose from. From influencer marketing, to media to tv ads.  


We work with a team of creative leads. We do jobs ourselves, but also work with other creatives who harnessed the skills to be a creative as well as a project manager. That is a creative lead for us.  


Currently BrainWith has become an ad agency and platform at the same time, where clients can hire creatives directly themselves or hire the BrainWIth team to do the job for them so they have someone to turn to.  


In the US we work with Creative Leads only.  us.brainwith.com. To be continued...