In January, digital marketing firm Mindscape announced it had split from branding firm Do More Good, formerly Hanon McKendry, ending a seven-year relationship between the two companies.
The firms were combined via an equity partnership and Mindscape operated during that time as Mindscape at Hanon McKendry.
Mindscape, which was founded in Muskegon in 2001, had joined Hanon McKendry in 2008 to provide the firm with a team of in-house Internet programming, design and marketing specialists.
“We are extremely excited to continue to collaborate with the firm, while pursuing our individual directions and focus areas,” Mindscape co-founder Paul Ferrier said at the time of the announcement.
Operating independently once again, Ferrier and Pete Brand, the other Mindscape co-founder, are launching their rebranded firm on Grand Rapids’ west side in the John Widdicomb Building, 601 Fifth St. NW, and the pair couldn’t be happier about the location or their plans for the future.
“I personally have always liked the west side,” Brand said. He noted he used to live in the neighborhood and once managed a pizza parlor there.
“All of the conversations I’ve been hearing over the course of the last 18 months to two years about how the investment was going to start to happen over there was exciting to me,” he said.
Mindscape also has an office in downtown Detroit that it opened three years ago, and Brand noted parallels between the two communities.
“The same thing that got me excited about moving to the west side was the same thing that got me excited about opening an office in downtown Detroit,” he said. “It was the opportunity to be involved in the beginning stages and to be able to work actively — literally help them in creating what they want to create over there.
“When we went to Detroit and opened our office … there was nothing going on in the downtown area. Every week since, we’ve seen improvement and more and more going on. It’s fun to be a part of all of that.”
Brand said he expects the vibe and reinvigoration Grand Rapids’ west side is undergoing will help the company with its recruiting efforts.
“When we were working in downtown Grand Rapids, it was great — everybody loved it,” he said. “It was a good feel, but I think, especially with the millennial generation, which is the majority of our workforce, (they) get more excited about working in a real atmosphere, that real feel they have over there on the west side.”
The company, which currently employs 21 people, has plans to hire another five to seven during the next 18 months.
It also plans to become a $10 million company in the next three years. Mindscape currently is generating $2.5 million annually.
“We’ve recently gone through an intense strategic planning process,” Brand said. “We’ve put together a very solid plan on how we are going to get there, and we manage the plan on a weekly basis.”
He said the ambitious plan is an outgrowth of his involvement with the Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring program for established business entrepreneurs who are seeking a one-on-one mentor from within the West Michigan business community. The program was started by former Perrigo CEO Mike Jandernoa.
“You have the opportunity to sit down with your mentor every two weeks for three years and have them help you with guidance of your business,” Brand said.
His mentor is Paul Doyle, CEO of Coastal Automotive and Coastal Container.
Brand said having a mentor who understands the challenges of growing a business is important.
“Almost every single day we come into work, we are running a company that is bigger than the company we’ve ever run before,” he explained.
Brand said achieving the $10 million mark requires the company to focus in on what it does best.
While a lot of firms start out with a singular focus, Mindscape hit the ground running in 2001 with a broad list of services including website design, application development services and Internet marketing.
“We have all this expertise and deep knowledge base in these different disciplines. We’ve been able to effectively merge them together and that is what we are leveraging today,” Brand said.
Today, the company is focusing in on its e-commerce expertise.
“There is a company called Pelle Pelle, located in Detroit,” Brand said. “We started working with them a year and a half ago. They were doing about $150,000 of online commerce. We put together a strategy, launched a new website for them, and within the first 54 days they made $150,000, which is all they’d done the previous year. And within the first 12 months from launch, they achieved $2.5 million.”
He said Mindscape has a number of similar stories.
Brand said he wants to make sure the company can offer fulfilling career paths to its employees and said revenue growth will help accomplish that.
“We understand that people aren’t going to stick around long if they aren’t getting what they want,” he said. “If we can continue to grow our company, then we can continue to offer expanded career paths to make people not only want to be here but love to be here — and not have to leave for the next step in their career.”