The Dish on a Formidable Female CEO From Inc.‘s List of Fastest Growing Companies

Lunch At Michaels

LunchAtMichaelsWith much of Manhattan tied up in the nightmare traffic scenario that comes courtesy of the spate of diplomats and politicians in town for the United Nations General Assembly this week, we were happy to make it to Michael’s for our regular Wednesday confab with this week’s movers and shakers and, boy, are we glad we did. While much of the excitement during our weekly trips to 55th and Fifth comes courtesy of the steady stream of famous faces, talking heads and random celebrity sightings, every once in a while, I’m introduced to influencers whose faces might not be familiar but whose accomplishments and goals clearly set them apart. Today’s headliner Monica Smith was no exception. As CEO and founder of Marketsmith, a New-Jersey-based marketing firm that recently scored a spot on Inc.’s annual list of the Fastest Growing Companies in America for the second time, she presides over a company whose mission is to provide direct response omni-channel marketing strategies to companies that focus on fostering strong connections to customers through differentiated product. The company posted $72 million in revenue last year. She is also the founder and CEO of i.Predictus, an on-demand television platform with built-in analytics and customer data warehousing with capabilities used to manage large television campaigns. “I think i.Predictus will be as transformative for omni-channel marketing as Bloomberg was to the financial markets.”

Diane Clehane and Monica Smith
Diane Clehane and Monica Smith

Monica’s success is a true testament to perseverance and believing in your own abilities. The New Jersey native grew up in an Irish Catholic home as the only girl with six brothers and was sent to Catholic school because that’s what her mother wanted for all her children. “I had no say in the matter,” she recalls with a laugh. Self-described as “severely learning disabled,” Monica endured years of an undiagnosed condition of celiac disease, which resulted in getting less than stellar grades. She struggled though school but says, “I understood vocabulary at a very high level and I was one of those kids that could do a Rubik’s Cube. I had a chip on my shoulder about those people who always got A’s.” An accomplished athlete, she went all the way to college (“My parents knew how to work the system”) before a teacher gave her a D on her first paper and asked  ‘Do you speak English at home?’

After teaching herself to read while attending The College of Mount St. Vincent, she went on to land jobs at Novus Marketing and RR Donnelly before striking out on her own 15 years ago. Today, according to Inc., Marketsmith is among the top growing women-owned marketing agencies in the country. So what is the competitive difference in having a woman-owned and operated business? “I think women really understand the complexity of content,” Monica told me. “They understand how differently content is consumed today and are comfortable in that space.” Marketsmith’s client roster has included Tumi, La Perla and Ralph Lauren. The fashion giant hired her firm eight years ago to create a cohesive marketing strategy for the company. “They had so many different marketing campaigns in so many different silos and no central repository. When we came in there were over 3,000 files that needed to be organized,” says Monica.

“I fell into tech,” she recalls. In 2011, she found yet another opportunity to funnel her passion for media and discovering new ways to analyze and deliver data to clients and founded i.Predictus, an end-to-end demand-side platform, which recommends the specific television buys to constantly improve client’s media ROI. “Data was scattered across multiple media channels, trapped in numerous databases and spreadsheets, so the first step was to create a framework for a new age of accountability,” she told me. There were no shortage of investors. “Five people wanted to give me half a million dollars; I picked three and got more from one,” she told me. “I look back now and realize Marketsmith was an incubator for i.Predictus.”