Madwire finds growth in digital realms
JB Kellogg, Madwire co-founder, points to a list of ideas scribbled on a window in a Madwire office facing the south shore of Lake Loveland.
“We see so many different things in here everyday,” said Kellogg, a graduate of Loveland High School. “We write things down, we rack and stack ‘em, we throw ‘em on the window.”
Madwire reported revenue of $4.2 million in 2011, a staggering 423 percent increase compared with $800,000 in revenue the year before. That growth earned Madwire the No. 1 spot on the Mercury 100 list this year among companies with revenues between $2.95 million and $6.9 million.
Founded in 2009 by Joe Kellogg and his son JB, the company now employs 125 people.
At first, the company focused on website design and development. But Madwire rapidly expanded to offer internet marketing, a discipline that includes online advertising, social media, search-engine optimization, blogging, video production and public relations.
With 2,500 accounts, Madwire now considers itself the largest and fastest-growing companies of its kind in Colorado.
Madwire also lays claim to one other feat.
“We are the largest e-commerce web design developer in the country,” said Joe Kellogg. “We do more e-commerce projects than anybody.”
That’s difficult to confirm, but there’s no doubt Madwire’s growing fast.
The secret to its explosive growth lies in its role as a design partner with BigCommerce. The Austin, Texas, developer of online stores refers companies that need web design to Madwire.
Madwire also has developed a variety of its own websites that generate revenue for the company as well as drive sales for clients. As an example, at its MadNoodle.com, consumers can retrieve coupon codes for products on merchant sites as well as bid for discounted gift cards in online auctions.
Kellogg also credits the company’s growth to Madwire’s increasing credibility as a web designer. The company studies what works: for instance, what kinds of features customers click on websites, including everything from colors to calls to action.
That’s important because customers make snap decisions on a business based on their websites.
“You might be the best attorney in the city, but if your website doesn’t represent that, if they can’t see it from that design visually, they hit the back button and they go to the next site,” he said.
Incorporating video production into the business also has driven growth. People are more likely to watch a video to determine whether they trust a business than read content, he said.
Innovations also have fed the company’s expansion. An application developed by the company emails customers who abandon online shopping carts and encourages them to return by offering a discount.
Not only do most people return, a majority of them buy more than what they originally left in their cart the first time, Joe Kellogg said.
Madwire also operates nearly 20 websites that generate sales leads and it hires smart people who, as he puts it, “live the internet.”
To help it generate ideas, Madwire also has a revenue-sharing program that rewards employees.
Its culture reflects the more relaxed attitude typical in the web technology world.
Many Madwire employees wear street clothes at work, though spokeswoman Farra Lanzer notes that some of the company’s workers, including those in sales and marketing, are expected to wear business-casual.
Regardless of how they dress, Madwire employees seem to enjoy themselves. The company’s new building, which it moved into earlier this year, has a breakroom where staffers can play Xbox. Downstairs, they can play pool, foosball or work out in the gym.
The company is well known for the string of superhero mannequins it displayed on its roof last summer. The stunt had locals guessing which superhero was next until the city of Loveland, enforcing a law banning the use of promotional figures on business rooftops, put an end to the fun.
In Madwire’s new 10,000-square-foot building, which is adjacent to its old building, superheroes could make a come back. The roof is considered a floor “so they’re allowed to be up there,” Lanzer said. “They will be back.”
And, maybe sooner than later, employees will return to the old building next door when there is no longer enough space in the new one. The company plans to hire another 40 people this year.
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