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Meet Drew Baker of Funkhaus in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Drew Baker.

Drew, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia and spent a lot of time snowboarding, surfing and playing basketball.

Travel eventually brought me over to New York and LA, where I experimented with a few different industries including cloud computing for hedge funds on Wall Street, helping my twin brother launch Pop, an Australian action sports youth magazine, developing scripts for legendary HBO producer Gene Kelly, and running tech for a consumer startup.

When I met my co-founders David Funkhauser and Nick Dies, I was craving something more creative; I think we all were. So we launched Funkhaus in 2011 because there really wasn’t anyone challenging the notion of functional design very well in the creative industry.

So we focused on building websites and digital strategies for clients that not only looked good but also satisfied business goals and performance metrics. Since then, we’ve worked with an amazing portfolio of film and entertainment, art, food and hospitality, media, and tech brands.

Has it been a smooth road?
One of the biggest challenges we face is how to scale our business without selling out. There aren’t a lot of creative agencies out there at our size (about 20 people), so we typically compete with firms that have more human resources than us.

The LA tech scene has grown tremendously over the last few years with companies like Tesla, SpaceX, Lyft, and Google all vying for tech talent in our neighborhood.

We’re fortunate enough that we’re in a place where we can choose who we want to collaborate with creatively, but we’re mindful of the changes that are happening in the digital design and creative industry here in LA.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Funkhaus is a bi-coastal creative studio that’s reinventing the way brands experience the creative process by delivering personalized, modern and sustainable design solutions.

With a focus on high performance and expert advice, we help companies design websites and visual identities, build new technologies, and develop strategic content and branding.

My role as technical director is to manage our development teams in LA and New York. Our engineers and programmers have a design-driven development mentality, which means we focus a lot on user experience and interaction when we’re building and designing digital platforms.

I’m proud of what we have done with Funkhaus New York, which is a technical incubator and creative studio we founded in Ithaca, New York. We wanted to do something totally unconventional and create a learning lab for design professionals, technologists, and academics.

We hold monthly meetups at our office featuring lectures and talks on artificial intelligence and technical or design-related topics – the last one was about Static Site Generators by our tech lead John Robson.

Some of the work that I’m most proud of is from our film and entertainment portfolio. We recently designed the website relaunch of Imagine Entertainment (https://imagine-entertainment.com), the film and production company founded by award-winning director Ron Howard and award-winning producer Brian Grazer, showcasing their amazing legacy of work all in one place. Since I’m a massive NASA fan and these are the people that made Apollo 13, it was an amazing experience to work on such a historic client!

To say it’s iconic is an understatement. We’ve never done anything just for the money. Working on projects that excite us and challenge us to learn something new is really important to the team and how we continue to grow in the future.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Nick (my co-founder) and I had both lived in New York and loved the city vibe. So when we first started thinking about launching Funkhaus in LA, we had that mindset.

Downtown LA was very different eight years ago – opening a business there was not something people advised us to do, but it reminded us a lot of the early days of Williamsburg, Brooklyn and we loved the vibe.

Now, Downtown LA is extremely walkable, the architecture is amazing, and there are so much arts and culture on the eastside. We really love growing our team out here!

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