Collaboration and Creativity: Lessons Learned Building Heat Waves

Heat Waves began with three co-founders, Melissa Gore, Melissa Bennett, and Maura Cottle, who shared a passion for digital, curiosity, ambition, and a commitment to creating best-in-class digital experiences. Each partner plays an essential role across Strategy, Design, and Technology, but the true strength and stability comes from the collective effort.

Their focus on collaboration has allowed them to expertly tackle challenges and continuously grow as a company and as leaders in a male dominated industry. They’ve been fortunate to have supportive client partners who trusted their vision early on giving them the opportunity to create category defining, award winning and innovative digital products.

Over the past five years, they have learned some valuable lessons that have helped them create a successful digital agency. Here's a look at five key lessons they've learned and what it's been like designing and building quality digital future-facing products.

Lesson 1: Stay true to your vision

At Heat Waves, we started with a shared passion for digital, curiosity and ambition. We wanted to be selective about the products that we put into the world and the people that we work with. We wanted to bring our values to the workplace and build a safe space where we could thrive as leaders and entrepreneurs. Our unified vision acts as a guide to ground ourselves in everything we do.

Lesson 2: Talk to people

Talking to people is crucial to finding opportunities, growing our business, and creating the best team possible. Whether it's attending conferences, participating in online forums, or simply reaching out to people we admire, simply talking to people has helped us connect with potential clients, partners, future employees, and has been instrumental in our success.

Lesson 3: Collaboration is Key

We believe collaboration is all about tapping into the collective strengths, skills, and the creativity of our team to make something truly amazing. Whether it's in developing software, product ideas, or new business models, when we put egos aside, magic happens. We live for the unexpected, endless possibilities that come from working with others.

Lesson 4: Embrace Your Individuality

Heat Waves is made up of a talented team, each with unique perspectives. Embracing our individuality is key to our success. We are constantly working to create space for everyone to bring their full self to work. That might look like getting to know each other beneath the surface or implementing new products and processes that could accommodate our growing team's specific needs. Trust, respect and openness have allowed our diverse backgrounds and experiences to make Heat Waves what it is today.

Lesson 5: Create with Care

We create experiences that affect people's lives daily. Creating with care requires deep listening to the needs of everyone including the people on our teams, our clients and end users. Care comes in many forms -- we use design and technology to provide thoughtful solutions to underserved problems. We find that centering a variety of contexts is a good starting point: low bandwidth, assistive technology on all sides of a product, providing options to consent and preparing users for sensitive content. At Heat Waves, we believe that this level of care in everything we touch not only leads to better products but also helps build strong and lasting relationships with our users.

The past five years building Heat Waves has been a journey filled with challenges, but also with lessons and opportunities. We've learned the importance of articulating our vision, talking to people, collaboration, embracing our individuality, and creating quality digital future-facing products with care. We love what we do and work hard to make that resonate in the things we create and the people we interact with.