Founder Playbook: The Ultimate Agency List and Selection Guide

Alpaca VC

January 21, 2022

It’s inevitable — as your startup grows, you realize that as a founder you need to outsource a job to make room on your plate. So you begin the process of picking a handful of agencies for the job and narrowing down the players based on former clients, references, and industry expertise.

But finding the right agency in an ocean of talent to match your needs can be tough. After all, your startup is your baby — you need to ensure the people taking care of your venture are credible, reliable, and dedicated to reaching your goals.

At Alpaca, we’ve seen this strong founder and company bond many times and have watched companies grow through the different stages and it all comes down to the perfect match.

To help current and future founders in their search, our team has compiled a list of agencies we feel will take care of your baby like you would. This ever-growing Master Agency List highlights leading agencies in:

• PR

• Digital Marketing


• Engineering

• Legal

• Branding

• Product

• Design

• Hiring

Whether you are looking to complement your existing team’s efforts or want to fully outsource a department, hiring a reputable agency can bring a depth of expertise that an internal hire can’t. However, before jumping in, you’ll need to be equipped with the right questions to ask the firms you are vetting so that you finish with a winner versus a dud.

How to Find Your Agency Match

Outsourcing your work efforts can be one of the smartest decisions you’ll make. Here are some steps you can take for a successful agency search.

1. Place transparency and honesty at the forefront of the conversation

Similar to asking employees to be honest about their triumphs, struggles, and concerns, it’s important to give agencies space to do that as well. Let these agencies in so they can be open with you about where improvements can be made, potential new strategies, and other recommendations.

In the same vein, encourage them to be honest with you about where they’re at — how much time and effort can they dedicate to your company, where they believe they can be an asset, and overall why their background fits this stage of your company’s journey.

2. State your company’s goals

Make sure the agency knows what your goals are for the next quarter, next year, and beyond so they can scale with the company. Tell the agency where you see the relationship going, how you believe they can play a role in the success of your startup, and how you plan on holding them accountable. As long as you’re consistently stating your intentions and goals, you’ll be in a good place to assess the health of the relationship and future work.

3. Build a process to vet and compare agencies

Hiring an agency can be time-consuming and downright frustrating. By creating a thorough process, you can make it a quick and engaging system.

Start out with a casual first or second conversation where you focus on communicating your needs and goals. Then, create a list of questions you would like them to answer and ask if they can create a strategy presentation within a set period of time (say, two weeks). More than likely, they will respond with a resounding yes and immediately start working on your questions.

4. Ask questions and get past work examples

Every department or sector will have different vetting questions and styles. Do research into the sector to create a list of questions that’s right for the agency you’re interviewing. If you don’t understand the sector well, ask an advisor or expert to join the vetting process so you can have a more experienced opinion.

As an example, here are some good questions to ask:

• Have they worked with companies similar to yours before?

• How do they track and measure results on an ongoing basis?

• How many clients do they have currently and do they have bandwidth?

• How frequently do they communicate with clients and in what form?

• What’s their track record like in driving results?

• Are they in your budget?

Again, your venture is your baby, so in addition to the above questions, be sure to request their references before you make any final decisions.

5. Pick your partner and negotiate the contract

Once you’ve selected an agency, it’s good business practice to negotiate and sign a detailed contract with them. Many agencies will have their own pro forma agreements that you can adapt to your needs.

Be sure to consider the length of the partnership too. Should it be yearly or monthly? If it’s a branding or marketing contract, what deliverables are expected? Sitting down with the person who heads that department or your COO will help you form the answers to these questions.

At the end of the day, you need to feel confident in selecting a new agency, and if all goes well, they will become your partner — your co-parent. Together, you hold the potential to propel your business forward.

Be sure to check out the Alpaca VC Master Agency List to discover contractors and agencies that can help grow your business in every area.