Founder’s Chronicle: Ming Chan, Founder of The1stMovement

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)



founders-chronicle-ming-changBriefly tell us about The1stMovement.

The1stMovement is a global digital agency that partners together some of the world's biggest brands (Adobe, AT&T, Cisco, DaVita, Pentax, Lexus, USOC) to deliver solutions that solve business challenges and evolve behaviors.

What has been the most effective marketing tool for introducing a new brand to the market?

A digital ecosystem catered specifically to the target audience has been the most effective tool that we’ve seen.

How big of a role does data play in making decisions on launching or changing the focus of a product/service?

As a digital agency, everything we do originates from and evolves with data. Through smart design, emerging technologies and leveraging insights, we build solutions that are constantly measured, analyzed and tracked to results that then lead back to new user insight, which, in turn, improves the solutions.

What’s one thing you look for in an agency partner?

We look for alignment with our core values (culture).

How should agencies apply startup principles (e.g., The Lean Startup, rapid iteration, etc.) to operate effectively and create breakthrough work?

At The1stMovement we have experimented with a few of the startup principles, and we have completely transformed the agency into an agile-processed agency. The benefits have been on the operations, finance, work and culture sides.

How can agency leadership encourage internal innovation?

It's all about fostering the internal culture. There are a few tactical things we do to encourage internal innovation such as "hackday," but we strongly believe innovation is not top-down; rather, it results from the people closest to delivering the work. Our culture fully supports open ideation and execution from a bottom-up approach.

What is your advice for retaining young, technologically savvy employees?

Keep them challenged, and provide as much learning opportunities as possible. We have had an 85 percent retention rate of our employees over the years, and we do that by focusing on our core values and culture and keeping everyone inspired to be the best in the industry

Many advertising professionals find themselves interested in entrepreneurship. What advice would you give to someone with marketing skills interested in starting a new venture?

To be a successful in the new venture, it's about the crafts as much as the art of it. Most advertising professionals turned entrepreneurs are the doers. To be successful, you must learn to let go of being the doer and become the leader the company needs.

What new trend in marketing/digital media are you most excited about and why?

Big data, mobile, content strategy and emerging devices. We have built our agency to be more than just an advertising agency, and the shift to digital and the emphasis in solving real business problems will align nicely with our positioning.


As Founder and CEO of The1stMovement, Ming Chan was named as one of the "Top 10 Asian Entrepreneurs" by Inc. Magazine and has led the agency to numerous accolades including: three-time Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America, three-time Best Places to work in L.A., Top 20 Advertising Agencies in Los Angeles and Denver, ABA's Digital Media Firm of the Year. Ming has seen 5,000 percent growth in five years with his passion for innovation and company culture.

A Silicon Valley software engineer by trade, Ming was the recipient of the prestigious Primetime Emmy® award in "Technical Excellence in Interactive TV" and has architected innovative digital solutions for some of the world's most renowned brands including 20th Century Fox, ABC, Adobe, Apple,

AMD, Cisco, Disney, Microsoft, Nike, HP, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Sony Pictures and more.

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