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Web Software Firm Propel Turns It Up to Eleven

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SAN FRANCISCO-After searching Northern California, Web software startup Propel handed 2-year-old shop Eleven here its esti mated $8-10 million account.

The shop has crafted a logo, tagline and launch materials for Propel's first business-to-business product, which was unveiled at a trade show last week. The shop will also develop Propel's branding initiatives, including Internet marketing, direct response work and print ads, said company officials.

Propel was founded in late 1999 by Steve Kirsch, founder of Info seek, one of the early search engines. Some of its senior executives previously worked at Apple Computer, where they met Eleven's creative directors, Rob Price and Paul Curtin, who were the head designers at Apple roster shop Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Fran cisco, at the time. "Back from the Apple days we were always impressed with Rob and Paul's creative abilities. At Propel, they were our first choice," said Barbara Cardillo, vp of corporate marketing.

Eleven CEO Jordan Warren said Propel is one of the agency's largest clients and more than replaces its dot-com losses. The Internet- and integrated marketing-focused shop has maintained a staff of 35 throughout the tech slowdown, he said.

"This win ... gives us a chance to leverage our marketing skills in the retail environment," Warren said. "Since the agency began, we've been beating the drum about seamless brand experiences that span all communication channels." Propel, he said, builds products based on just that philosophy.

Propel's first software product is designed to help large and midsized brick-and-mortar retailers improve their e-commerce capabilities. Warren dubs the offering "Amazon-in-a-box," referring to the customer-friendly Amazon.com retail site.

Propel has received $45 million in funding from a number of high-profile investors.