Four Kitchens

Four Kitchens goes global by acquiring Costa Rica-based agency Manatí

2 Min. ReadWork life

Four Kitchens, a distributed web design agency with roots in Austin, TX, is extending its global reach by acquiring Manatí.

Based in Costa Rica, Manatí is a fully remote, 21-person digital agency with deep ties to the Drupal community. Four Kitchens will incorporate the firm’s co-founders along with its team of web developers, UX designers, and project managers, growing to 65 Web Chefs. With the addition of Manatí, Four Kitchens expands their ability to create more inclusive experiences through multilingual projects as well as increased flexibility for short-notice and urgent requests from clients.

The acquisition takes effect October 1, 2022.

“The ‘Mana-team’ is at the heart of this business venture,” said Todd Ross Nienkerk, CEO and Co-Founder of Four Kitchens. “A lot of organizations expand outside of the U.S., Canada, and Europe, but this isn’t just a move to boost stability and profitability. This is hiring; this is retention. This is building a stronger team.”

The acquisition of Manatí is the culmination of an eight-year collaboration and friendship between the firms. With similar client rosters that specialize in education and social impact, Four Kitchens and Manatí also share a connection through their values, vision, and mission.

“Even though we are in different parts of the world, there are so many things that unite us,” said Manatí’s Director of Design and Co-Founder A. Lucía Sánchez.

Four Kitchens: Impactful work and steady growth for more than 16 years

Founded in 2006, Four Kitchens provides services in digital strategy, user experience, visual design, content strategy, and frontend and backend development. Four Kitchens also created the Emulsify Design System, an open-source style guide and component library tool. Emulsify facilitates faster, more accessible content creation and website development.

In 2021, Four Kitchens merged with Advomatic, expanding its presence among organizations specializing in nonprofit advocacy and education. In addition, the agency has also incorporated Advomatic’s program for providing long-term, strategic website support and improvements, which is called Continuous Care.

Securing a brighter, more inclusive future ahead

As the teams combine, Manatí’s projects in Central and South America will be phased out to focus on the organization’s clients in the U.S. and Canada. Among the additions Nienkerk is most excited to incorporate is Manatí’s approach to recruitment, training, and mentorship, which is more advanced than Four Kitchens’ existing processes.

“We have progressive practices in the way that we do the work and in the way we invest in people—or should I say, help them invest in themselves,” said Alberto Rojas, CEO and Co-Founder of Manatí. “This changes industries. If we can improve that with this acquisition, that is one of the most exciting things for me.”

“Teaching and nurturing talent is powerful from a ‘give back, do good’ perspective, and it’s just a really good business strategy,” adds Nienkerk. “That way we’re not relying on a hiring pool that’s relatively small. We can open it up to a lot of people who are willing to learn.”