Here’s the TLDR: We started Obey Creative to help small to midsize businesses grow profitably through branding, brand strategy, and digital marketing.
If you want to here the long story, here we go…
I started my first business right out of college. The company was called Social Boston Sports and we were committed to connecting people via sports leagues and events. Over the next ten years of bootstrapping, the business grew into a community of over 75,000 members and I exited the business through a successful strategic acquisition. During that period, I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. In addition to learning and refining my leadership, operations, and sales skills, I had taken a deep dive into the world of marketing.
In college, I studied economics and finance. My first company, however, taught me how to build a movement and a community through marketing. I learned the importance of branding, brand strategy, and how to promote yourself via the hard way– by failing hundreds of times.
6 months after selling Social Boston Sports, I became the marketing director for a well-funded regional vodka brand, KEEL Vodka. During that 3 year period, not only did I go from Marketing Director to CMO, I became fully immersed in the spirits business. I learned what an RTD was, how to legally market alcohol, how to launch a product, design packaging, work with the TTB, and how to manage and work with our distribution partners.
I was tremendously fortunate in this role as I was surrounded by incredible teammates, advisors, and investors who I have to thank for condensing the learnings of 10 years of industry experience into 3.
Arguably, the most important thing I learned from my experience at KEEL, was how hard it is for a small brand to gain attention in today’s crowded and hypercompetitive world. It’s also incredibly expensive to build your own internal marketing team. I had conversations with other marketing leaders in the industry who told me they had 8 people working on just the content part of their marketing team alone. At KEEL, there were two of us, so we hired agencies to help with the extra load.
During that process, I was shocked to be quoted prices that were all over the board. $125,000 for a 2-minute brand video, $100,000 for a Shopify buildout, $55,000 for help with a rebrand, $15,000 to search for two influencers, and the list went on. It was insane. Having come from a bootstrapped world–where gross profit was everything–I didn’t understand how a brand could be built while being stifled by exorbitant fees like this.
In any business, you have to consider cash flow to be your oxygen. With a negative cash flow, you’re not getting oxygen to your blood and the breathing stops quickly.
In 2021, I left KEEL to start Obey Creative with a mission of helping small to midsize businesses grow profitably with rates that didn’t deprive the business of oxygen. Today we’re proud to have helped 29 different companies–and counting–with their branding, product launches, packaging, content, and social media. Being able to help small businesses build their audience and implement key marketing strategies and tactics energizes us like nothing else. Because we’ve been there. We know how hard it is to build a company. And when I look back on my experience at Social Boston Sports, I only wish we had an agency like the one we are today, capable of providing comprehensive support in branding, marketing, and even valuable business consulting services.