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Dedicating 20% of our time to personal projects and research is the secret sauce that makes our client work successful.

We call it Ethercycle Labs. It’s shaped our culture in to one of open exploration, let us take risks that clients couldn’t, and given us insight on everything from the landslide shift toward mobile to the dynamics of crowd-funding.

To explore projects outside of clients’ demands, we began a Labs initiative in March 2012. The Labs program allows us to catalyze new thinking while getting into the consumer mindset. This research has provided us guidance on what to support for our clients, helped us reach new customers, and just generally been a great learning experience for the whole team.

Sharing everything we do publicly for free has been our best advertising. Our labs projects are almost universally things we built for ourselves that we shared. Collectively, those releases generate up to 1 million page views monthly, resulting in a lot of referrals to Ethercycle, and subsequently new leads or newsletter subscribers.

Explore what you can do with no restrictions, share it, and see what it can do for your business. At worst, you'll have learned something. At best, you'll have made something wonderful.