It may be the fastest growing little tech company in Louisville. And the most ambitious.
Between bold moves, Makespace co-founder and chairman Mark Palmer is celebrating his web agency/branding firm’s fifth birthday while hinting at even bigger changes.
Though he won’t reveal all details, Palmer said he and Makespace managing members Sean Breslin and Rob Miles are on the verge of launching Oohology, a full-service interactive umbrella branding agency.
Oohology will help firms create a strategy for total brand identity, Palmer said: “The brand looks like the Web looks like the print. It’s going to be a big deal. We’re on the cusp of it. We’ll unveil it before the end of the year.”
Breslin said Makespace competes locally, but is increasingly regionally focused, with a new two-person sales office in Chicago co-located in the Chicago Portfolio School, a specialty advertising school.
By June 10, Makespace partners are scheduled to close a joint venture in which they will sell 49 percent of their Chicago market rights to an investor there. After the deal closes, the plan is for the Chicago Makespace to morph into Oohology, which Breslin said will become Makespace’s regional identity.
“That’s a significant development for us … and we want to replicate that model in multiple markets,” he said.
Makespace is scheduled to open an Indianapolis office this summer, Breslin and Palmer said.
In Louisville, Makespace is doubling its workspace to 7,000 square feet at 1236 S. Shelby St. in Germantown with the addition of a full floor, Palmer said.
“It’s been a huge year for us,” he said. “We’ve quadrupled in size – in revenue and in the size of our team. We’ve had some impressive (coups), both in terms of bigger clients and blue-chip talent that’s allowing us to offer more services.”
The company has expanded to 18 employees from four in five years, adding disciplines ranging from experience design to search engine marketing.
Recent new hires include Kat French, former social media manager at Doe-Anderson, the Louisville-based advertising firm famous for its Maker’s Mark campaigns.
There, French worked on client initiatives for companies as diverse as Warner Brothers, Fortune Brands and Johnson Controls.
“I just first heard of Makespace when they hired Kat,” said Louisville web pioneer Jason Falls, who worked with French at Doe Anderson before starting his Social Media Explorer consultancy. “Obviously, they didn’t just pop up out of nowhere.”
About the same time Makespace hired French, he started hearing about the company from other digital marketing firms, Falls said.
“Word’s getting out these guys are on the scene, and people are starting to know who they are.”
A lot has happened since he started as a website developer in the spring of 2006, Palmer said.
“I started the company with $3,000, and all that went to an attorney,” Palmer said. “We did everything else ourselves.”
Makespace’s portfolio now includes major local clients such as Qdoba Mexican Grill, Steepleton, Hussung Mechanical Contractors and the Louisville YMCA.
Makespace has national clients including Louisville-based Phoenix Process Equipment Co., which operates in 12 countries, and General Growth Properties, the Chicago-based real estate investment trust that owns Oxmoor Center and Mall St. Matthews.
“We’re interested in expanding regionally with national brands, ” Breslin said. Makespace’s client list still includes small companies, “but where we really are is (we’re) a digital marketing agency with regional and national brands, helping companies make more money on the web.”
Here are the Makespace changes blow-by-blow:
• Makespace has just launched a new website. The new site is meant to better market an expanding number of new services with divisions dedicated to 3D animation, Internet marketing, web hosting and analytics.
• Makespace employees in Chicago just brokered their first sale in Chicago, Palmer said. Brian Burke is project manager for the Chicago office. The office is focused on business development, with all work done in Louisville, he said.
• In Louisville, Makespace will move its main offices from the third floor to the first floor of their Shelby Street building, which is being renovated. The third floor will become a photo studio for client use, or for lease to independent photographers, Palmer said.