After leaving Wieden+Kennedy in March, Paulo Ribeiro and Nilesh Ashra have now launched their own independent, Portland, Oregon-based digital creative agency called Two Things.
Over the last five years, as managing director and director of creative technology at The Lodge, Ribeiro and Ashra led Wieden+Kennedy’s efforts in emerging technologies, such as AI and robotics, to help create products and experiences for major brands like Nike, KFC, and Samsung. Under their leadership, The Lodge created projects like Nike’s Live Design custom sneaker lab, an interactive intro experience for Samsung’s Gear VR, a virtual reality employee training game for KFC, and a Reddit-based interactive game for Anki’s Cozmo robot.
The goal with the new shop is to combine the experiences and expertise from their time at The Lodge, with the flexibility and agility of a smaller, nimbler operation. When on Nike’s Live Design lab at W+K, for example, they took half of their team and worked in-house at the brand for close to a year. Now Ribeiro and Ashra say they plan to balance the work between that type of embedded work within brands, with the more traditional external digital creative shop model.
“There were a ton of benefits to being a part of a great company like Wieden,” says Ribeiro. “We’re super thankful for our time there, but doing this now independently, you just get a chance to do work that wasn’t possible before.”
Right now the new shop has a handful of part-time employees, as well as a roster of independent contractors. That’s partly due to being new, but also reflects their goal to be flexible for each type of new project. One client might need a team of strategists, while another project may require a computer vision engineer. Either way, Ribeiro and Ashra see plenty of opportunity for a small shop with their particular set of skills.
Ribeiro says it used to be that big brands only wanted full-service agencies, while smaller companies work with independent studios. Now, based on his experience at The Lodge, there is a lot of cache at bigger brands that can bring in a small crew of senior talent.
“Over the last 15 years, each of us in different ways has been pursuing the same thing,” says Ashra. “And that’s how is emerging technology going to impact the way a brand grows and meets its customers? We just got to the point where we thought we could make a bigger impact by breaking out on our own.”