Ah, it only seems like days ago IL was reporting on the peripatetic Pip Pullen leaving Red7e to join Lesa Seibert at XtremeMedia, then spinning off an new firm, Mightily.
Actually, it was only last November, and XstremeMedia/Mightily had a grand total of three employees — Pullen, Siebert and COO Lance Swan.
Based on raw numbers, that move has been successful, with Mightily now at 11 or 12 employees, depending on whether a candidate from a competing firm Pullen declined to identify accepts an offer.
To accommodate new staff and increased business, Pullen said the branding firm is investing about $60,000 to $80,000 to renovate offices on a different floor in the same building.
Pullen said he searched for space in NuLu, Butchertown and the Central Business District, but couldn’t find what Mightily needed. So, Mightily is moving to a larger space on the fourth floor of the 222 First Jefferson Center at First and Jefferson streets.
“It turned out to be cooler than anything we looked at, and that was surprising to me,” Pullen said. The 3,000-square-foot space will become a single open workspace, with exposed beams and brick.
Within 10 months, Pullen said, he believes Mightily has grown to roughly the size of several other mid-level advertising and marketing firms, including Via Studio and Blackstone Media. “We’re probably in the top 4 or top 5 in terms of staff, and we started with three people,” Pullen said.
Recent hires include account executive Kelli Corney, who came to Mightily from NBC Universal/CNBC, where she was an international account executive.
Of course, to justify adding bodies, you have to add revenue. Mightily has hired and fired — Pip’s words, not ours — a number clients in the last 10 months. New accounts include additional business from Louisville-based Trilogy Health Services, which was already an XstremeMedia client.
Mightily is building a new website for the health care system, which has 85 senior care centers across the United States. The firm also handles search engine optimization and social media for Trilogy.
The firm also picked up branding business from the University of San Diego School of Law, Flavorman/Moonshine University, and Associations International.
Associations International is a Lexington-based group of 12 nonprofit associations. Associations International issued a request for proposal to create websites for three new associations, and Mightily won two of the three, Pullen said.
(Full disclosure: Insider Louisville also is a client.)
Finally, Mightily has a number of smaller projects ongoing, including an infographic for Woodford Reserve bourbon, part of Louisville-based distiller Brown-Forman’s portfolio, and a new (soon-to-go-live) website for Barry Wooley Design, the interior design firm whose offices are on East Main Street in NuLu, and in Mellwood Arts Center. “I have to say that (Wooley’s) site is one of the coolest we’ve ever designed,” Pullen said.
Pullen declined to give revenue figures. He did say revenue has tripled, “but we have a lot more people working.”
“(Revenue) has increased enough that we’re hiring people and getting a bigger space. Mightily has done that.”
Pullen jumped to XstremeMedia with an idea of transforming it into a type of digital agency he contended doesn’t exist in Louisville … an online advertising agency that puts creative and strategy first
As part of that effort to create a radically different agency, Mightily has adopted a new management philosophy and is arranging the new space to promote collaboration.
“We’re not hierarchical. Everything is flat,” Pullen said. “No one answers to anyone. No one has an office but Lesa. I don’t want people being territorial about space. This is really a neat model ….”
Pullen attributes Mightily’s success to pushing back against a local and national advertising culture in which clients, not firms, have the upper hand: “I want to do a lot of local stuff, and I want to do really creative work. I don’t care if we’re working for a big international firm, or a small local firm.”
Firms often give clients what they want instead of what they need, he said. “The industry has been inverted since the Mad Men days. Clients are calling all the shots.”
He added that he’s glad to see Lexington-based Bullhorn Creative entering the Louisville market. “I’m glad Bullhorn is coming to town. They seem to have a clue.”