(Special thanks to Teddy Heidt of the Gauge Collective for his time and insight)
Chicago has a healthy, thriving community of mission-driven businesses working to drive profit as well as social impact. Mission-driven businesses operate from a key set of values, focus on benefiting stakeholders as well as stockholders, and work on driving community collaboration. My recent conversation with Teddy Heidt, founder of the Gauge Collective, provides insight into how a mission-driven business integrates its values into every aspect of its culture.
The Gauge Collective was founded by Teddy Heidt, a brand digital marketing specialist who specializes in building, strengthening, and implementing digital strategies. As a freelancer, Heidt discovered that many social media agencies hired to help brands often provided work product with low quality and little insight into the essence of the brand. Inspired to take positive action, Teddy Heidt founded the Gauge Collective, a community of collaboration-minded social, digital, and creative freelancers, which assists a wide variety of organizations (from start-ups to larger businesses) in crafting and executing efficient and effective social media outreach strategies. Their onboarding process allows the Gauge Collective to immerse themselves into how a brand "ticks", providing ample opportunities to foster a sense of collaboration as well as provide a brand-specific outreach strategy.
The Gauge Collective takes an "anti-agency" approach to social media and digital marketing: under Teddy Heidt's leadership, the Collective supports a group of freelancers from a wide variety of fields (including social media, graphic design, email marketing, and videography). One of the key values that Teddy Hedit has integrated into the working philosophy of the Gauge Collective is diversity: not only does the Gauge Collective desire to support freelancers from marginalized communities, but Teddy Heidt was named one of Crain's Chicago Business' Notable LGTBQ Executives. As Heidt pointed out in our conversation, the Gauge Collective actively seeks and collaborates with brands and a small, community-based group of influencers who are "uniquely themselves" to provide thorough strategies that lead to specific results.
The Gauge Collective's mission-driven impulse towards collaboration and community also extends into their desire to work with nonprofits, other mission-driven businesses, and socially conscious brands. With their immersive onboarding process and ability to provide smaller scale yet more effective services, the Gauge Collective wishes to provide services for nonprofits and other mission-driven businesses who may be unable to hire larger agencies. It speaks to Teddy Heidt's vision of the Gauge Collective that they can contemplate growth in both their client base and in engaging the greater freelancer population. With a mission-driven impulse towards collaboration and community, the Gauge Collective under Teddy Heidt's leadership provides a great example for other businesses - and even some digital agencies - to emulate.
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