• Transform magazine
  • February 04, 2023


BNC 2022 stories: is it time to start your own practice?

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Concluding the first day at the Brand New Conference 2022 in Austin, Texas, the founders of Brooklyn-based agency Porto Rocha, Leo Porto and Felipe Rocha, discuss their process of starting up a branding agency and their long-term strategy to make it a success.

“It’s not an easy question,” says Porto, pacing up and down the stage of the Michael & Susan Dent hall in the Long Center for the Performing Arts. “But after thinking really hard about it, we asked ourselves if the world needs another design studio. So, if we had to do something we had to make it really special. “

The duo agreed three years ago that New York could host another design agency, but in order to make theirs a success, Porto Rocha – which now boats a wealth of clients including Airbnb – had to really ask themselves what they wanted to achieve.

Five pillars were agreed upon. The pair believed that if they stuck to these codes, then creating a thriving business would not only be possible, but it would be all the more worth it.

1 We want designers to have a seat at the table

Rocha says, “Traditionally design has been influenced by people that are higher up. We think designers are inherently strategic thinkers”

2. We want to connect brands with people and culture in meaningful ways

3. We want to find our sweet spot

“We always want to make sure we can make the best or both worlds between design and culture, and business and strategy,” says Porto.

4. We will always be a design-led company and not a business that happens to sell design

Rocha adds, “Our business decisions are oriented by the best work that we can do. Profit is just a consequence of the good work that we do.”


5. We want to prove that queer and Latino immigrants can run a global design agency in NY


For anyone in the world of design thinking of setting up their own agency, it may well be worth considering a guideline or a moral code to stick to. If it is as well thought out as Porto Rocha’s, then creating a successful agency which can survive in a competitive landscape may be possible.