Inc. 5000 Applicant of the Week: AArrow Advertising
BY Josh Spiro
How an 18-year-old kid took $500 and built a guerilla marketing agency with franchises in 30 cities and $4.5 million in revenue.
As we process applications for the 2010 Inc. 500 | 5000, we thought it would be worthwhile to shine a spotlight on some of the companies that are vying to appear on our ranking of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. One that caught our eye was San Diego, California-based AArow Advertising.
A lot of businesses shell out for high-priced consultants, but when Max Durovic started AArow Advertising in 2002, he had a wealth of free advice at his fingertips. That's because the San Diego native was still an undergraduate studying business at Georgetown in Washington D.C. "The professors acted like free consultants and I could go in there and ask them for strategies and recommendations," he recalls.
The idea to launch the agency came to Durovic in high school while he was working as a sign holder with a bunch of friends. The X Games were becoming popular and Durovic began experimenting with something he called "sign spinning," performing tricks and moves using the advertisers' signs. His boss didn't like it because he was worried that customers wouldn't be able to read the signs, so Durovic left to start his own company.
Not content to invent a subcategory of guerilla marketing, Durovic is also aiming to turn sign spinning into a competitive sport. His company employs over 1,000 spinners in 30 U.S. cities as well as Canada, Puerto Rico, and South Korea and the spinners, most of whom are between the ages of 16 and 24, will gather at regional and national competitions to strut their stuff. Sometimes, even Durovic himself can still be found on street corners spinning for clients or competing in spin offs.
Durovic attributes his success partly to the fragmentation of the advertising industry and partly to the talent and dedication of his employees, but it's also largely due to his forethought and the company's method of expansion. Durovic was preparing for his brand to break boundaries when he gave the company its name. "No matter where you go, an arrow means the same thing to all people," he says, "it means 'go here, do this,' and as an advertising company that's a very powerful message to send." Being first in the phone book doesn't hurt either.