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PTC Member Spotlight: O2 Digital Creative Agency

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The Pittsburgh Technology Council loves introducing new members to the world. We have members that cut across the ecosystem. Let's take a look at O2 Digital Creative Agency. The agency is celebrating its 10th anniversary in business -- A Decade of Design & Development. We talked to founder Aaron Melhorn to learn more:

Give us a quick tour of your background and what led to starting O2?

O2 Digital Creative Agency was founded during my final year in college as a place for myself and fellow dedicated designers and developers to create projects we were passionate about. I watched as my fellow pupils that graduated ahead of me went off to work at various larger corporations and had their creativity and self-worth stifled. Additionally, I observed the frustrations of small business owners who needed to build their online presence in the ever-growing digital age at an affordable price, as well as the medium-large businesses who needed digital solutions that were specifically tailored to their exact needs. I knew we could create a company atmosphere that encouraged creativity and growth within, while also providing a valuable service for our clients. There was a learning curve over the first few years as we determined where to draw the line and how creative or flexible to be. While we are still learning - we pride ourselves on the impact we have on not just our clients and community, but our internal team members.

Tell us about O2's key strengths and what differentiates it in the marketplace?

O2DCA's key strengths are our attention to detail, agile development strategy and expansive experience across multiple business sectors. We are able to craft highly specific and curated solutions for a number of industry-specific problems, and do so in a way that is cost-effective for the client. We have not allowed ourselves or our projects to be driven or limited by any specific codebase or platform, and instead compile solutions that involve a wide range of technologies and hardware. We have also developed our own proprietary platforms to aid in the design and development of projects which has allowed us more flexibility and freedom then standard frameworks. Lastly, we have experts in all phases of the digital project lifespan - from project architecture and development, to training and implementation and finally marketing and user acquisition.

What new technologies are looking at that will disrupt the industry?

I believe the way we interact with 'computers' will be changing over the coming years. Over the last few decades, a computer has transformed from a machine the size of a room, to a small box beside your desk, to a palm-size screen you carry in your pocket. As technology evolves, I believe the 'computer' will become ubiquitous (as if it's not already). To clarify - what I mean is - the definition of a computer, and how you enter input, may change in a way that removes the term 'computer' from our language entirely. From entering input via thought and sound to assisting with human activities via haptic feedback. Would you call your Alexa a 'computer'? As we see humans change technology to better fit the model of 'humanity', I think there will be some powerful, helpful and amazing hardware and software created that we cannot yet imagine.

What's it like building a business in Pittsburgh?

We have all heard the standard mantra of "Location, Location, Location" when referring to a business location. I believe that is only half the story. "Location and timing," would be more appropriate in my opinion. I started O2DCA in 2010 as I graduated from college at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which was the perfect time to be starting a business in the perfect place: Pittsburgh. At that time, the Steel City allowed me to start my business out of a small storefront we rented for only $600 a month - something that amazed my friends in NYC and Chicago. Pittsburgh's then up-and-coming tech city reputation and addition of companies like Google and Uber also allowed me to surround myself with knowledgeable, friendly, tech-forward individuals. Pittsburgh also allows us to live a moderate life, unlike the speed and cost of living in a larger city, Pittsburgh afforded us opportunities to network, grow, and adapt that a larger city may not have. As Pittsburgh has grown over the last decade, so has O2 Digital Creative Agency. I am sure starting a business now would not be the same as it was back when we did, and I am sure it will not be the same now, as it is in another 10 years.

Do you ever go analog and just check out for a little to decompress from our tech-saturated world?

Indeed, I do! Working with technology day-in and day-out can be a tiring and stressful experience, even for those that do not realize it. The immediate feedback, the lack of interaction with all 5 senses, the 'closeness' of it all - none of what we do as developers is innately human or natural. As such - spending time in God's wilderness is vitally important to me. My wife and I enjoy traveling & time spent surrounded by nature - where life moves a little slower and there is more land than buildings. If cell phone service can't travel there, that's where you'll find us to recharge.