You could say Allovus got its start in a virtual garage. Like many start-ups, Hayley Nichols, founder and principal, began five years ago with an idea, a project request, and a handful of workers toiling away in their virtual spaces. Shift ahead to today and the virtual has become a reality with a studio space, 63+ employees working with a broad range of creative clients, and a mix of user experience design and development services.
We sat down with Hayley to hear the story of how Allovus began—how it has grown to what it is today, and a peek into the company’s future.
Allovus: How did you get the idea to start Allovus?
Hayley: I was attending a Microsoft company picnic, and one of my old clients walked up to me and asked, “When are you going to start something… ‘cause we miss you.” Shortly after that, I called one of the designers I used to work with and asked her how she was doing. She mentioned that she didn’t have any work. So, I thought—I’ve got clients who want me to work with them—and I’ve got designers who need work… maybe I should start a company.
Allovus: How did you come up with the name “Allovus?”
Hayley: I had been struggling for several months to come up with the right name. It was Christmas Eve, and I was wrapping presents. The last one I wrapped was for our dog. I was tired, and didn’t want to write out every family members’ name on the tag, so I wrote, “From All of us.” Then I thought that seemed like the perfect name! I didn’t want the company to be called “Hayley’s company.” I wanted a name that included everyone involved. I mean, it was a leap of faith on everybody’s part to break away from their prior companies; it seemed only right to have a name that reflected that. I got really excited and ran to my computer to check out the URL for “Allofus”… but it was taken. So I spelled it phonetically and tried “Allovus” and that was available.
Allovus: You mentioned that there was a small group of employees in the beginning. Who were they?
Hayley: I was employee number one, and Barb Nichols, who does payroll, was employee number two. After that, there was Stephanie Zavadil, who did production and icons. Then came Jennifer Jacobsen, Candy Knott, Alison Grauman, Robert Massa, Lynn Muranaka, Martina Dalton, Shawna Swanson, and Spring Pumphrey.
Allovus: And now we have 63+ employees! Did you ever envision this?
Hayley: No, I thought we would have a company of about six people, and would keep everyone busy. Then more and more clients asked “Can you do this?” “Can you do that?” We began to add more people to accommodate our clients’ needs. In just four months, we had grown to about twenty people.
Allovus: We’ve come a long way. Describe what the company is like today.
Hayley: We offer all kinds of services: User Experience, Visual Design, Production, and UI Development. We opened up a Bellevue studio for a collaboration space—it greatly impacts our work to be able to communicate with each other and across teams. Some really great brainstorming happens here—we’ve come up with creative solutions to very complex problems.
Allovus: How else have we changed?
Hayley: Now we have a management team in place. I received some good advice from Melody Christensen, the former owner of ArtSource. She said the pivotal moment of a company is when you reach about 50 employees. At that point, you’ll need to have a management team. Without a management team, you can’t grow. Back then, we had exceeded that amount. So, we scaled back and put a team in place.
Allovus: How did that impact the company?
Hayley: We spent a lot of time and effort on our internal tools and infrastructure, allowing us to take on more talent and clients. We can grow both sides. We feel like we have a great deal to offer the design community. Also, we provide a safe and nurturing environment for our talent which allows them to do what they do best—thus making our clients happy with the work that we provide. Talent is our number one priority because if we can provide great resources, they feel happy and supported—and the clients reap the benefits.
Allovus: In what other ways do we serve our clients?
Hayley: We have gathered almost 1,000 resources to draw upon in the Puget Sound area, so we can ensure that we find the best fit for our clients’ requests. Having a database of over 1,000 talented people allows us to scale and build teams that match our clients’ needs.
Allovus: Where do you see Allovus heading in the next five years?
Hayley: We are a real company; we have to start thinking five years ahead instead of quarter to quarter. With our management team in place, it allows me to strategize for the future. I think we can help other small businesses by offering some of the tools and systems we’ve already built which help to solve everyday business problems. Additionally, I want Allovus to become a safe haven for highly experienced, creative professionals to do great work—and we will find them engaging high-profile projects. I’ve always had this vision where I have an army of stay-at-home moms and dads that still have four to six hours a day to give. I love providing them with opportunities to have a flexible work environment so they can keep their priorities where they should be–family first.