Eric Mayville – Founding Partner & Co-CEO, Wondersauce

Eric Mayville leads operations, finance, and culture at Wondersauce, ensuring that the company is run efficiently with an environment that spurs creativity, innovation and respect. A graduate of Ohio University, Mayville’s career saw him commanding a variety of roles within digital firms such as Code & Theory, Razorfish, and AgencyNet. Those roles included motion design, front-end development, visual design, creative strategy, and user experience design and planning. At Wondersauce, his entrepreneurial spirit has been paramount to Wondersauce’s growth and strategy. He was also named one of Business Insider’s “30 Most Creative People in Advertising under 30”.

Tell me about your early career.
I bounced around a lot. It is definitely not something I would recommend to everyone, but NYC afforded me the ability to test the waters with several different companies and several different roles. By the time I found the agency I wanted to stay at for more than six to seven months, I had really seen every role imaginable for producing great work. This was a definite advantage for when we broke off to do Wondersauce. A holistic understanding of any business is critical when thinking about going out on your own.

How did the concept for Wondersauce come about?
Wondersauce was born based on a desire to create our own path and approach to running a service company in a crowded market. We knew we had the ability to deliver quality work for our clients and we had a hunch that if we simplified the experience for clients and ensured that they felt like they were a part of the process, then we could generate the results they were looking for while creating repeat business.

How was the first year in business?
We hit the ground running hard. We scaled from two people in an apartment to about fifteen in our own space. Our clients ranged from start-ups to huge brands, like Stella Artois. All of the work came from word of mouth which really was a testament to our hunch about how to structure our relationship with clients.

What was your marketing strategy?
We relied solely on our clients and personal networks for marketing. Of course, we had our social presence across the different platforms but even our own site didn’t show work. The mystery was helpful in getting into a room with potential clients to own the story of how we may be able to partner with them to help with projects or large initiatives.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We doubled and tripled our staff, revenue, and profits nearly every year. The response to our offering and the team was incredible and led to all of the growth that we saw. The client roster stayed super diverse with work coming in from all types of sectors which helped us grow as well.

How do you define success?
Success is building a company with a culture focused on accountability and trust. That empowered our team to forge great relationships and trust with our clients. We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the team feeling that they had the ability to push themselves and be owners of their ideas and creative deliverables.

What is the key to success?
Trust, trust, trust. You don’t earn trust, you lose it. Giving someone the ability to own the work that they are assigned to complete and not getting in their way is tough as you have to skirt the line of overseeing and giving out sharp advice with micromanaging.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Being an entrepreneur means that you are responsible for the livelihood of every single employee that takes the chance to work with you. That is an immense stress but the reward for creating a place that people are proud to come into everyday and give it their all is unlike anything I have experienced professionally before starting Wondersauce.

What are some of your favorite books?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things is a book that EVERY entrepreneur needs to read. Read it now, especially if you are a year or so into your journey. Ben Horowitz has an incredible way of sharing stories that are completely relatable no matter what industry you might work in.

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Every day is tough and wonderful at the same time. If you’re coasting, then your business is dying. Tough days can be ones where you sign five projects at the same time or tough days can be when you lose five projects you were pitching for. How you handle yourself to get through either scenario is what defines your success.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
If this was easy, then everyone would do it. Adversity drives an entrepreneur. It gets you firing on all cylinders to come up with a solution to whatever the problem is. If this doesn’t sound like you, then you may want to reconsider your path.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Start now. Don’t wait because the hardest thing to do is start, but you will never learn how to succeed and move forward if you don’t start.

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Interviews are conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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