Agency Boss José Mollá on Saying No to Clients and Cannes: Ad Age Small Agency Conference

Shop Shifted From Spending up to $80,000 on Cannes to Taking Staffers to Art Shows

José Mollá

José Mollá

When José Mollá left Wieden & Kennedy to start his own shop, he asked Dan Wieden, "How did you do it?" "He said, 'I have no fucking idea. I guess if you follow your guts shit happens man,'" relayed Mr. Mollá, kicking off Ad Age's Small Agency Conference in Miami on Wednesday.

"For me, it was the best advice someone ever gave me," he said. "It freed me. You don't need a detailed plan."

That doesn't mean it was easy when Argentine brothers José and Joaquín Mollá founded La Communidad 15 years ago.

They were focused on doing great work, but knew they wouldn't be making a lot of money off the bat, especially because they opened the shop with no clients. And they weren't exactly financial experts. Five years in, they had to hire people to "redo all the numbers."