POKE New York Relaunches as Makeable, an Independent Digital Innovation Firm
Founding Partners Michael Kantrow and Tom Ajello Announce MBO from POKE London, Former MDC Managing Director Rob Dickson Joins Advisory Board
NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — POKE New York – a leading digital agency that earned a reputation for cutting-edge work on behalf of leading brands such as NBC Universal’s The Weather Channel, 19 Entertainment, American Express, Avon, Coach, Dell, Dyson, MoMA, Penguin Books, and Sephora – has re-launched as Makeable (www.itsmakeable.com), a new bespoke digital innovation company. The announcement was made today by founding partners Michael Kantrow and Tom Ajello who also announced that all of POKE New York’s clients and partners have transitioned to the new company, which also includes Success Academy, The Intrepid Museum, Clear, Creative Time and Trivergance.
Kantrow and Ajello – who founded POKE New York in 2007 – completed a management buyout of the company from its parent POKE London in advance of Publicis’ acquisition of POKE London in September 2013. Mother Holdings, which had been a shareholder in POKE New York, will remain a minority investor in the newly-formed Makeable, along with new strategic investors, including Rob Dickson, formerly of MDC partners.
“An unbeatable X-factor…”
Cameron Clayton, Chief of Digital and Innovation at The Weather Channel, heralded the formation of Makeable: “Tom and Michael have created an incredibly unique and vibrant culture of engineer-to-client agile teams that truly give Makeable an unbeatable X-factor. For us, strategic design and innovation are required growth strategies, not marketing sidecars. This kind of design and technology rigor, thought leadership and delivery is exactly what we need to keep our edge.”
Evolving by Focusing on Customized Bespoke Innovation, an Independent Eye Toward Client Partnership and Top Talent
POKE New York quickly earned a reputation for award-winning brand and marketing work in the digital and social space; however, the firm increasingly established itself as a leading digital innovation company with over two thirds of its revenue now coming from pure innovation engagements. Utilizing a unique client/firm hybrid team model, POKE New York has worked with a variety of major players such as The Weather Channel, American Express, 19 Entertainment, Hachette and Pearson’s Penguin Books, as well as its more entrepreneurial venture partners to design, develop and launch new products, businesses and brands.
Makeable will build upon this success by focusing primarily on design-led business creation, product development and brand innovation engagements for both Fortune 500 and mid-tier companies. Makeable will also continue work with investors and venture partners in long-term, high-growth business and market-building partnerships.
“Our clients and partners have made innovation a top priority across their organizations,” said Kantrow. “Makeable is able to meet this tremendous challenge and business imperative with a disruptive approach shaped by what we call unconventional wisdom – a powerful combination of digital strategy, design thinking, deep technical expertise manifest in an agile creative and technology development process. We’re a company that’s not only focused on creating real value for our clients but is increasingly vested in the growth we’re creating. This allows us to scale the business in ways not possible in most agency or professional services models.”
“Every time you turn around there is another mega-agency ‘roll-up,’” added Ajello. “Their intended message is ‘bigger is better.’ The truth is that it’s a tremendous competitive advantage to fiercely maintain your independence and agility. That’s why we are winning the all-out war for innovation engagements and outstanding design and technology talent. Our primary motivation isn’t size, its quality.”
Kantrow and Ajello also announced the naming of Gardenia Willoughby and Ryan Fleming as Partners in Makeable and the creation of a new advisory board which will include former MDC Managing Director Rob Dickson. The new advisory board will be instrumental in enabling Makeable scale its business for growth in conjunction with the products and services developed with their clients and partners, as well as growth in new markets and regions. Dickson, who brings approximately 30 years of business, operations, M&A and board experience, was instrumental in the transformation of MDC Partners into the most disruptive, creative and progressive professional services firm in the world.