A Personal Reflection After 15 Years in Business
As our firm turns 15-years old next month, I must say, this is a momentous time.
I started this all those years ago in a robe, in a loft, with one goal in mind: to become the best. I wanted to provide organizations with first class communications expertise – both in counseling and executing against a strategy to achieve critical business goals.
We were built on the premise to create an incredible health communications firm. But we, didn’t stop there, because, with us it is only about one thing: “Go. Ahead.”
When we sensed the shift to everything digital, we led the industry by establishing a unique analytics and insights. Our technology provided clients with data, insights and executional strategies to optimize the shift to Influence in brand-building, organizational excellence and customer experience.
We wanted to build beyond health. Our next step was tapping into technology and global brands’ verticals. We incorporated strategy, creative, corporate, planning and all things digital as capabilities. This evolution has allowed us to take advantage of how technology is catalyzing new and different models in every sector.
The key to all of our success lies with our people. They bring it every day for clients, and that is the only metric that matters.
Over the last several years, we have been approached by many organizations to either acquire or partner with us. We have met a lot of smart people and made many friends along the way.
Fast Forward to Now
2015 was a pivotal year for us as we approached the magical $100M revenue level. As we completed the year at $95MM in fee income and thought about how we maintain 15 more years of consistent growth, momentum and opportunity, we realized we had hit a new phase in our development.
Our goal has always been to find the right partner to help us advance through this exciting yet challenging stage in our life as a firm. To that end, we have re-capitalized the firm to allow us to enhance our capabilities, expand our footprint, accelerate and facilitate talent acquisition, and drive faster innovation. This is our priority so we can continue to partner with clients at an increasing scale and quality.
Mountaingate Capital, a Denver-based private equity firm formed by some of the partners of KRG Capital, is our new financial partner. Mountaingate invests in leading middle-market companies that demonstrate strong growth potential and that are led by management teams committed to a strategic vision to realize that growth. They support management in prioritizing, funding and executing on growth opportunities, including strategic acquisition and integration.
The principals of Mountaingate Capital have extensive experience investing in digital marketing and communications firms, having led investments in OLSON, a Minneapolis-based digital agency which grew to become one of the top five independent digital agencies in the U.S.; Ansira, a St. Louis- and Dallas-based leading data-driven results marketing agency; and Aspen Marketing, a Chicago-based leader in direct and digital marketing. In addition to marketing services opportunities, Mountaingate focuses on investments in specialty distribution, specialty manufacturing and business services.
Their investment will be used to fund our growth strategy, including potential acquisitions, extending our global footprint, creating new services and optimizing our client experience with a stronger infrastructure that can support healthy scaling.
As CEO, founder and owner, I often remind people that our goal remains to be the “best not the biggest.”
As such, a key reason we chose Mountaingate Capital versus so many other avenues that we explored, is because they share our commitment to client service and staff development, as well as the preservation of our unique culture, values and executional excellence.
While Mountaingate will not be involved in our day-to-day operations, they will be providing the financial and operational guidance plus foundation necessary to fulfill our goals at the highest possible quality as we scale.
As leaders, managers and associates, this means more opportunities for personal and professional growth including expanded responsibilities as the firm exceeds its growth targets. For clients, this allows us to invest in additional services and end-to-end solutions in areas critical to their sustained success. Our clients consistently share with us how our unique approach, methodology and models are re-defining marketing and communications in today’s social/digital era. This is our DNA.
It’s all about ideation, creating and building at scale, while maintaining our innovative leading-edge culture. We are creating a firm of tomorrow that is a centralized platform catalyzing an array of services and capabilities centered around transforming companies. This investment will accelerate our future growth opportunities and enable us to continue to be an industry leader delivering exceptional service and capabilities to our clients.
For W2O Group, it’s about acquiring new skills and further developing our thinking and capabilities to provide state of the art counsel, advice, and performance to clients attempting to succeed in a complex, ever-changing world.
Let me reiterate what this all means first and foremost for our amazing people who make it happen every day, and also for our clients who stand to greatly benefit as well.
It means career development potential that is exciting and wide open.
It means we are serious about our vision to be the BEST!
It means that we have secured the foundation for the future while retaining our independence, culture and optionality.
It means we are disrupting the status quo and defining the marketing and communications firm of the future today without the bureaucracy and idea bias.
It means there is much, much more to accomplish and much more to learn, to share, to dream, and to do. It means I get to lead, work and create something even more special and impactful with everyone for many years to come.
I am proud to have worked with some of the best people in the business to realize our vision to this point.
Here’s to continuing to Go.Ahead. . . . Together.