Location: 102 Madison Avenue, New York, NY
Number of employees: 130; 60 full-time consultants
Number of years in business: 9
What they do: Blue Fountain Media is a digital marketing agency.
Why they are great: Blue Fountain Media, a Manhattan-based web design and marketing company with clients like HarperCollins, the NFL, Procter & Gamble, and AT&T, has a tag line that they try to work, and live, by: springing ideas to life.
But in order to bring ideas to life, you have to have, and keep, a motivated team. “In our area, if you’re a good online marketing person, if you’re a good web designer, you’re in high demand. And if you’re not happy, you could get a job in a heartbeat,” says founder and CEO Gabriel Shaoolian. “It’s critical that we keep the culture where people look forward to work.”
Part of the way they do this is to implement a fun environment where breaks are encouraged. Employees play games such as chess or Family Feud on the company Xbox. “I think it’s important to disconnect from what you’re doing and just focus on something else,” says Shaoolian. “It helps people bond, and it gets your mind working in a fun, competitive way.”
Blue Fountain Media also has flexible work hours, where their employees must work eight hours a day, but can come and go as they please. They’ve also implemented a wellness program, where—as long as their work gets done—employees can leave the office for several hours at a time to go to the gym. “We encourage people, we actually tell them, ‘Please get off your butts and go,’” says Shaoolian. The company offers reduced memberships to nearby gyms as an added incentive.
Although they aren’t tracked minute- by-minute, Blue Fountain Media employees are responsible for accounting for the number of hours they’ve spent working on specific projects to make sure everyone is getting their jobs done. “You’re relying on your team member and if your team member doesn’t pull through, you’re going to feel it. Everyone on that team will feel it,” Shaoolian says.
Because much of the company’s projects involve teamwork, Shaoolian also recognizes the importance of hiring the right people. “Hiring the wrong person . . . forget that it could cost your client embarrassment, especially in our industry. The money that you lose is significant, but forget that too. It damages the team, it damages our company; it’s huge.”
In order to make sure new hires are right for the job, the prospective employees go through a thorough interview process. “We’re looking for leaders in the industry, entrepreneurial-spirited people, people that want to do something special and different, not be put into a box,” he says. Applications are submitted either internally, via recommendations, or through LinkedIn. Applicants go through up to three rounds of interviews, which include a test, dependent on their specific position. (Developers, for example, receive a basic test on writing code.) All senior management positions except for one (the company is currently looking to hire a CFO) are promoted from within. “You cannot lead a department without working here for at least one year,” Shaoolian says. “You have to first prove that you can fit in, that you know how to work with us, and that you have the chemistry.”
For six years consecutively, Blue Fountain Media has doubled revenue and growth, with zero funding. The biggest challenge for the future? Finding the space to house his growing team. “We’ve moved almost every year,” says Shaoolian, “and it’s killing me.”
Michelle Court is the managing editor at The New York Enterprise Report. She can be reached at email@example.com.