Robert Nuell and Maria Quinn are co-founders of Mammoth, an advertising agency that creates integrated marketing campaigns for cable networks, film studios and publishing houses. Nuell and Quinn met at Miramax Films in the late 90’s and in 2005, they decided to go into business together. Mammoth has worked on projects ranging from Lifetime’s “Project Runway” to the Quentin Tarantino film “Inglourious Basterds” (2009). The original team of two now employs between 23 and 24 people in a beautiful loft in DUMBO.
We asked them how they got started, what it’s like to work for them, and how their campaign for the upcoming HarperCollins YA novel, I Am Number 4 is going to blow our minds.
Why did you decide to go into business together?
MQ: It’s kind of funny because I always knew I wanted to start a company, but I never thought I would do it with a partner. Robert and I had two very different disciplines: I come from a print background and Robert has a [tech] background, so it sort of made sense for both of us to come together and build a bigger beast.
After the jump, Nuell and Quinn continue with building a startup, working with entertainment clients, their game-y campaign for HarperCollins and the future of marketing books.
How did you get your funding?
MQ: Robert had an office space, which was fantastic – he brought a lot of the equipment. I brought a good portion of the cash. All of that together was a good foundation for the first year. We were really lucky in that we had a few companies who were truly loyal to us already and were very excited about working with us. It wasn’t like we were jumping into this with a blindfold.
RN: We had active jobs before we were officially incorporated. [With a handful of clients including Miramax and IFC Films] we were able to generate enough revenue to basically pay for the office, start to hire and deal with the infrastructure. It took a good six months to stabilize before we started to add maybe one or two people and it was a lot of work, with Maria and me running everything.
MQ: Running the company is still that way. We are definitely two people who are not afraid to get in the trenches. That’s actually one of the things we look for [in our employees], are people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty, because I think no matter what your position is in the company, you should be able to, if you really need to, get down in the trenches. Zero ego is very appealing.
What other kinds of skills should your employees have?
MQ: They should be prepared to work at least 15 hours per day – I’m kidding. We have different levels of employees. We have a lot entry-level employees, but we also have a lot of mid-level employees and a handful of very senior level employees. I think [having] a certain amount of experience and having cut their teeth in entertainment somewhere is sometimes very appealing because the clients we tend to work with have “interesting” personalities where they expect it now, if not yesterday. It’s a very specific client that we work with.
They also have to be good within the realm of their expertise. We have the Web media, the print media, PR and social media. They are definitely separate groups, but we are integrated in some ways. We will go back and forth to go brainstorm at times.