By Ty Hagler | 4 Minute Read
Wow. You look up one day, shut your laptop, and you realize that you’ve been in business for 10 years. Happy birthday, Trig!
My wife and I came to the Triangle a little over 10 years ago, moving to Durham while working remotely for The Home Depot’s in-house innovation lab. While deeply appreciative of the opportunity, it also exposed a gap in my industrial design education, leading me to pursue a MBA degree at N.C. State in the evenings while staying current in my career. While in school, the effects of the housing downturn took hold and I was given the opportunity to take the plunge and start a business.
Like many budding professional services entrepreneurs, I went the route of marketing myself eponymously (Studio Hagler), competing the same ways everyone else did—convincing clients to believe in my process and my creative abilities. But I realized early on as an entrepreneur that collaboration, finding growth-potential individuals and building teams to offer value at a multiplier effect, would be an even better offering to clients than any one of us on our own.
I looked for collaborators in some interesting quarters. The first group of people I found were launching a product guild of industrial designers, engineers, prototyping shops, marketing folks, and business strategists. While the guild flamed out, I made some great friends and collaborators. Early on, Brian Castle, who started out as my banker, wound up teaching me the finer points of business development. As the downturn shook the financial industry, Brian was also given the opportunity to reinvent himself as a writer. Initially, I was only able to pay him through sushi lunches, but he helped craft and share our story along with clients in an early iteration of our branding team.
The hero’s journey eventually crosses the pit of despair. By late 2010, I was approaching the end of my graduate studies and had to critically evaluate the business to date. For a time, I had started seeking employment, even interviewing for a corporate innovation role. At the crossroads, a new client project from a long-standing relationship came in that breathed new life into the business. That project along with a few others gave me enough runway to reinvent the business, not as an expression of my talents or persona, but that of the team and process-driven approach to innovation. In 2011, I rebranded the company as Trig Innovation, built my first Squarespace website following a content marketing strategy, and made a commitment to building a team.
When I think of the people, I’m humbled that so many talented folks—the proof is in their consistently client-wowing, award-winning work—have made Trig their professional home. My first full-time hire, Patrick Murphy, is one of those people who always told me that he just wanted to be the best designer, no more and no less, and has actually achieved what he desired. Leader of award-winning design projects in areas as diverse as nanotechnology and cycling products, Patrick has reached a level of industrial design excellence to which few can aspire.
Later, Connie Tran came to Trig, who has just blown our hair back with the versatility of her design skills, whether it’s in mapping out a new product, packaging, website, color palette, or brand exploration. I’ve never seen anyone work as tirelessly and with consistent excellence as Connie, and each client with whom she’s interfaced has thanked me profusely for connecting her with their brands and products to make them better.
As the company has grown, the lack of structure showed strain, and we greatly benefited from self-implementing the Traction process.
What does the future hold for Trig? I hope a lot more of the same. The same commitment to clients and each other. The same commitment to continuously improving our company by improving each of ourselves as individuals. All of that means that we should remain as committed to our culture as we have been these first ten years.
Enjoy a walk down memory lane as we explore many of the team members and awards Trig has picked up along the way over the course of the last decade:
Timeline of Event Highlights
October 2008 - First client, SimpliciKey, LLC
March 2011 - Rebrand from Studio Hagler to Trig Innovation
May 2011 - SimpliciKey launches
March 2013 - Drew Brisley joins Trig
May 2015 - Connie Tran joins Trig
May 2016 - Seth Teeples joins Trig
September 2016 - Trig Begins Traction Implementation
April 2017 - Sunscreenr launches Crowdfunding campaigns
August 2017 - Ashley Whitley joins Trig
August 2017 - Kelly Harrigan joins Trig
August 2017 - Sunscreenr wins IDEA award
October 2017 - Ethan Creasman joins Trig
March 2018 - Brian Himelright joins Trig
May 2018 - Trig acquires Trig.com
May 2018 - Andrew DiMeo joins Trig
July 2018 - Samantha Harr joins Trig
September 2018 - Redbud Labs Stage wins IDEA award
And a final thought:
Thank you, Trig, for becoming much more than about me and my journey as an entrepreneur. After 10 years, I can honestly say that the possibilities we explore are infinite, and so are their rewards.