From a teenage startup to a thriving marketing agency, we’ve come a long way.

Most stories start with the past, we’re going to start with the future.

We’re the agency for tech and SaaS.

We’ve worked with some pretty great tech and SaaS companies across North America, and we’ve seen the impact we were able to drive together. You know what we realized? We love this niche. And we’re good at it. Good thing too, because the phone keeps ringing and Slack keeps dinging.

So here we are, with a clear vision for our future.
But 12 years earlier …

It started… well, Little.

Our Founder, Chantelle Little, was always wired a bit differently. You know: the type of kid who rallies the neighborhood to put on a production of Cinderella out of her parents’ garage.

Or sets up shop uninvited to sell sodas on the 15th hole of the golf course next door.

When an opportunity came knocking, Chantelle didn’t wait to ask for permission – she just went with it.

Then came the big idea.

“Why am I not doing this for more companies?”

That’s the idea Chantelle was struck with after spending the summer of 2008 teaching herself to make videos while working for a small business.

Those videos made complex products easier to understand. She knew other companies needed that, too – so she used scholarship money to launch TAC Marketing and built a little production studio in her parents’ loft.

After graduating from business school, she decided to stick with TAC instead of getting a “real job”. (Thank goodness for that!)

Soon, new opportunities… and new challenges.

Those videos needed a place to live, so TAC started building websites too. First on the side. Then as a focus. Soon, we were creating more websites than videos.

The loft didn’t last. Neither did our 100 sq ft office (the only space anyone would rent to a 19-year-old at the time).

As our team grew, so did the challenges clients needed us to solve. Brands started turning to us for more than websites – brand strategy, product design, and more. We expanded our offering and shifted upmarket, rebranding from TAC Marketing to Tiller in 2015.

The opportunities kept coming and Tiller reached a lot of milestones. Chantelle found a business partner (Hey, Brandon!) and they signed bigger and bigger deals, made significant investments in two Alberta-based tech companies, and celebrated Tiller’s 10 year anniversary in 2018.

The momentum continues

Over the years, we’ve gone from shooting promos in a stuffy loft to building complex brands and websites for tech and SaaS clients across the continent.

But we didn’t do it alone. It’s people like you that have shaped us into who we are today.

Along the way, we’ve learned more lessons than we can count. And as we look back on where we’ve been – the ups and downs and everything in between – we wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s gotten us to where we are today and it’s propelling us into tomorrow.

2008 – 2010

The Loft

Shortest commute, ever. Chantelle started Tiller (then TAC) in the loft in her parents’ house.

2010 – 2011

Above Javino Coffee Bar

It wasn’t huge, but it was all Tiller’s – our very first (legit) office space.

2011 – 2020

1911 Historic Office in Marda Loop

Affectionately known as “The TAC Shack”. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears happened here. Actually, mostly sweat. The AC didn’t work.

2020

The Tiller House

Talk about an upgrade. We now happily spend our days at the Tiller House (we definitely couldn’t call this a shack). We’re still pinching ourselves.

Our brand evolution

Chantelle didn’t have much experience naming a company (actually, no experience). So she went with her gut – “TAC Marketing”. TAC represented the company values: Tenacious, authentic, creative. It was also a play on the word “tack”, so Chantelle added the tagline, “Marketing that sticks”. Turns out that’s also a book. Or two. Who knew?

By 2015, TAC Marketing had grown and shifted its focus. TAC became Tiller and we dropped the word “marketing” to tell the world we were focused on digital. Hello Tiller Digital.

By the time Tiller turned 10 it was obvious – there was a ceiling on our brand and it was holding us back from reaching our ideal customers. So we made some changes. We changed our look, dropped the word “digital”, and charted a new course. And it worked.

Lessons we’ve learned

Let’s be clear: We’re always learning. It’s in our DNA and it makes us better each and every day. Here are a few key lessons.

Dream bigger

The limits you put on yourself will permeate your company and stunt your growth. Yes, you have to be realistic about where you’re at, but if you want to grow you also have to set ambitious stretch goals. When we truly believe we can accomplish anything, that’s when we thrive.

Build systems and processes from day one

A process that lives in your head is no process at all. It might work for a while, but it makes it infinitely harder to scale. We learned this lesson the hard way. We waited longer than we should have to put systems in place. But now that we’ve invested in them, they have enabled us to scale. If you want to build a business capable of ambitious growth, you need to build out systems and processes right from the start.

Be willing to pivot

When you’re really in tune with your customers, you’ll know their pain. And you’ll know when it changes. When that happens, be willing to make adjustments. We’ve learned that a hyper-focus on customer pain points and a willingness to take risks to solve them, is key to delivering true value.

Show up and work hard

At the end of the day, success is built on the shoulders of grit and hard work. Your ability to outlearn and outwork your competition is the reason you’ll win. So we show up and give it our all. Even when it’s hard.

Hold each other accountable to goals

One of the key ways we’ve nurtured our belief that anything is possible is by adopting OKRs (Objectives & Key Results). This framework has pushed us to set specific and challenging organizational and individual goals. We’re transparent with each other about these goals and how they’ll be measured. It’s not about perfection, it’s about stretching ourselves to do more than we’d previously thought possible. We’re using OKRs to test our limits and, by allowing ourselves the freedom to fail, release our most creative, ambitious selves.

Fight for alignment every day

As a business scales, you may notice your team pulling in different directions. It was easy for us to stay aligned when there were three of us, but as our team has grown and complexity has increased, alignment has become more challenging. Set a clear vision, write down your goals, and be religious about communicating these things with your team. Not once a year. Daily. Without this clarity and repetition, it’s far too easy to get pulled off course.

You need the right mix of people

To do your best work, surround yourself with a diverse group of people: Employees, cheerleaders, advisors – each plays a critical role. Let’s be honest. We spend most of our lives working, so work with people you love to be with. It makes the hard days less hard and the wins that much sweeter. As you build your team, hire intergenerationally, and bring on experts as soon as you can. If your team is smarter than you, you’re doing something right. Find trusted advisors and lean on them. Growing a business is hard. Really hard. We all need experienced voices to help guide us along the way.

Want to hear more of what we’ve learned?

Check out our annual Letter from the Founder.

Now you know our story. Want to go behind the scenes of Tiller’s day-to-day?

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