When one thinks of the world’s digital hot spots, Columbus, Ohio may not be the first place that comes to mind.
Nonetheless, since 1981, agency Resource Interactive, based in the Buckeye State’s capital, has been selling around technology. First as a regional retail and channel marketing consultant for Apple Computers—and in recent years, as an ecommerce expert for brands like P&G, Hewlett Packard and Nestle. Last week, as it celebrated its 30th anniversary, the digital marketing shop also picked up a minority stake investment from Boston-based private equity firm WestView Capital Partners—its first outside cash since a failed merger with another Columbus company a decade ago.
Why now? The company earned $53 million in revenue during 2010, founder Nancy Kramer tells Adweek, and in recent years has grown about 23 percent per year. To help meet their target for 15 percent year-over-year growth rate for the next 5 years, she and CEO Kelly Mooney decided the time was right to bring in new funding "to spur on new offerings, new capabilities and geographic expansion,” Kramer says.
While the shop’s early years focused on below-the-line marketing work—not the sexiest of advertising—it made a notable splash in 1999 with a Super Bowl spot starring Victoria’s Secret models that drove football fans in droves to the lingerie brand’s site for its first ever “Fashion Show Webcast.” Two years later, in 2001, the company sold as part of an ill-fated venture then ended in a public court battle and settlement allowing Kramer to repurchase Resource in 2002. “There was certainly a time frame during the dotcom bubble that was very difficult for our organization,” says Kramer.
That's all ancient history, and Resource has its sights set firmly on helping retailers sell their wares across disparate digital platforms. That includes social: In late 2009 the company launched “Off the Wall,” a proprietary piece of technology that aims to make it convenient for Facebook fans of brands to buy discounted goods straight from their personal news streams, without having to leave the social network for another site. Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, which remains a flagship client, was an early adopter.
In 2010, Resource opened an office in Palo Alto, where HP is based. Kramer declines to specify where else she hopes to open offices: “We are exploring multiple markets.” She estimated the agency's current number of employees at 350. The deal with WestView also included granting employees at Resource equity in the company through a pooled portfolio that also includes stock in the agency's clients, but Kramer says her and Mooney's combined shares maintain their controlling stake in the company.
As for the company's history, don’t expect any war stories about the company’s 18 years working with Apple, or dirt on Kramer’s experience working alongside founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. “It’s a brilliant company, it’s highly influenced who we are as an organization,” she redirects when asked.