Airfoil was founded in 2019 as a home for Phil Hedayatnia's creative projects while at South Park Commons
. Phil gradually expanded the team to tackle more contract work for his peers at SPC, and later spun off Airfoil as a standalone creative design and growth agency focused on helping early stage technology companies "take flight" with the assistance of Airfoil's design team. By the end of 2020, Airfoil's client base exceeded 20 companies; by the end of 2021, we're on track to work with 75+, several of which we hold advisory equity stakes in.
In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, we refocused Airfoil as a pure "design company" across two areas: Airfoil Studio
, our design agency focused on early-stage ventures, and Airfoil Ventures
, our internal product incubator working on new ideas in the future of work, future of media, and creator economy. Across both, we're now a team of 20+ creative designers, engineers, and product managers working together on projects that challenge us creatively.
At its core, what we all want as creatives is the ability to pursue our dreams: to leave each day more knowledgeable or experienced than our last, leave an impact on our world by inventing the future, and experience the joy of seeing something we've lovingly crafted come to life.
This is why we build products, but isn't the experience most have when joining a digital agency. Increasingly, many agencies play a "talent arbitrage" game, where the sole goal is to find stellar talent and make money by pocketing the delta between what the talent is paid and what customers pay the agency.
We don't believe that's sustainable, or even ethical. Companies ought to add value to those within them, and give them experiences to grow creatively and make impact that would not be possible working solo. It's for this reason what we both work for others and incubate our own ideas, and over time plan to grow Airfoil into a home for creative talent of all sorts. If you'd like to join us to work on interesting projects for others, have at it; if you'd like to follow your own dream, go for it; if you change your mind while you're here, we're here for you.
We're a startup, but not one that's trying to create a product. We're trying to create an environment where everyone can do their best work and experience the joy of practicing their craft at the top of their game.
Newsletter Stack product launch, May 2020
Our first Airfoil NYC team dinner, July 2021
Our first NYC meetup on our rooftop, June 2020
The challenges ahead
At Airfoil Studio, we turn away two to three times more work than we take on. There's a lot of demand for our work, and we've resisted quickly scaling in an effort to make sure everyone we hire is great at what they do and will fit well within our work environment, but through word of mouth we've attracted a lot of attention. We want to do everything we can over the next 6-12 months to expand the core Airfoil Studio team, and as some of our Airfoil Ventures projects continue to scale, we'll have additional needs there as well.
We're shifting to a mix of in-person and remote work
As we come out of the pandemic, Airfoil will be establishing physical spaces in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul and Singapore to grow both our US and Asia/Pacific teams. We'll always be a remote-first company, and team members are free to work from anywhere, but we want to invest heavily in and grow our in-office teams as well to give teammates the ability to choose the work environment they want: a distributed, asynchronous one that enables global travel and lifestyle flexibility, or a tight-knit, in-person one that maximizes learning and advancement. We see developing this hybrid work environment to be a major challenge for us, but one we're deeply committed to over the next few years.
We're expanding our team's specialties
Our product design team has historically been described as "full-stack", comprised of generalists who can float between UI, UX, brand, and product strategy. However, in 2021, we want to hire more specialists: illustrators, motion graphics artists, brand designers, growth marketers, engineers, and more. Especially as we expand Airfoil Ventures, we're seeking to build a broader and more diverse team that enables us to launch entire brands and products in-house.
We consistently "punch above our weight"
As a company, we pride ourselves on "punching above our weight" -- pulling off incredible redesigns, rebrands, and product launches with a small but tight-knit team. We often promote teammates internally and invest heavily in our teammates' growth and development with the intent to keep as many teammates as we can for as long as we can. Many of our designers have discovered entirely new specialties because a project's called for it, and entire products have been launched by teams of two or three people at Airfoil!