Mad growth at Madwire Media

LOVELAND – Madwire Media grew from two to 27 employees in its first year alone. The company now employs more than 90 people and expects to generate revenue of more than $10 million this year.

How has it done this, and how did it get to this level so fast?

“Businesses need marketing,” co-founder JB Kellogg says plainly. “It’s like plumbing: It’s never going to go away.”

Indeed. Madwire reported revenue growth of more than 420 percent from 2010 to 2011. The company’s revenues last year came to $4.2 million vs. $800,000 the year before.

Founder of futures and commodities trading firm Traders Network, Joe Kellogg and his son JB Kellogg, a graduate of Loveland High School and Western New Mexico University, started Madwire just two-and-a-half years ago.

At first, the company focused on website design and development. But Madwire quickly expanded to include internet marketing, which encompasses advertising, social media, search-engine optimization, blogging, video production and public relations.

With 2,500 accounts, the company now considers itself the largest and fastest-growing of its kind in Colorado, and in e-commerce, the nation.

“We are the largest e-commerce web design developer in the country,” Joe Kellogg said. “We do more e-commerce projects than anybody.”

That may be hard 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 MadNoodle.com, consumers can retrieve coupon codes for products on merchant sites as well as bid for discounted gift cards in online auctions.

Joe 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.”

Basically, the Kelloggs try to pay attention to the latest trends and seize on good ideas.

“We see so many different things in here everyday,” JB Kellogg said.

“We write things down, we rack and stack ‘em, we throw ‘em on the window,” said JB Kellogg, pointing to lists scrawled on a window in the office facing the south shore of Lake Loveland.

To help it generate ideas, Madwire also has a revenue-sharing program that rewards employees.

Its culture also reflects the more relaxed attitude typical in the web technology world.

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 month, has a break room 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 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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