This Social Ad Startup Says Moving to Chicago Was Key to Increasing Sales by 125 Times

Strike Social exec Mark Shore's move home paid off globally

The Windy City has been good to a startup that, interestingly, leans on YouTube ads.
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Strike Social moved from Los Angeles to Chicago in 2016 and claims that decision was key to driving revenue up 12,423.4 percent to $46.5 million for the year. If you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, how can a move from La La Land to the City of Broad Shoulders spur such incredible growth for a shop that leans pretty heavily on YouTube advertising?” Well, you’re probably not alone.

And those numbers beg a few other questions as well.

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Strike Social co-founder and president Mark Shore grew up in the Windy City area. But why the move back to the Midwest?

“Chicago was a natural fit for us,” he said. “We knew it was the right environment for our growth to really take off. The city has a strong tech community, similar to what you find on the coasts, but its tech sweet spot is in advertising and b-to-b. Having all this around us has been helpful in identifying mentors, partners and customers.”

Was the move at all inspired by picking up a huge Illinois-based client? “No specific client brought Strike Social to Chicago,” Shore said.

Instead, Strike Social ramped up on work with a number of brands including Nordstrom-owned Trunk Club, KFC and Mead Johnson (both via media agency Spark), US Cellular (Starcom) and Royal Caribbean (Mediahub).

“There are just a lot of large agencies and brands in the city,” Shore said. “Being near them was a good business move because of all the opportunity.”

What’s more, his social ad software player, which puts an emphasis on AI-driven budgeting decisions, placed No. 17 on Inc.’s list of fastest-growing private companies. The 4-year-old startup began around a kitchen table in Los Angeles and has grown to a team of 200-plus, servicing more than 500 brands and recently opening offices in Manila, Philippines, and Krakow, Poland.

“Our worldwide expansion also has helped with our growth,” Shore said. “We monitor campaigns 24/7 because we have people placed all over the world. Always having someone awake and at work somewhere in the world was huge for our growth because it made our offerings more complete than our nearest competitors. When you only have a presence on the West Coast and you need to be engaging with a client in London, it’s tough to give them your full attention. That’s no longer an issue when your team spans the globe, as ours now does.”

And, as his case suggests, sometimes going home is the best way to expand worldwide.

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