Answering opportunity’s knock

In my three years at Alexander Interactive, we’ve taken a boutique ecommerce firm with a diverse client roster and grown it into a user experience powerhouse with an incredible lineup of engagements. The company that helped grow great sites like Action Envelope became rich with brand names: Schwinn. Citi. Kaplan. Even the good folks at Internet Retailer, the paper of record for the ecommerce industry, chose Ai to redesign their website.
This has led to substantial changes within the agency, starting with my own hire to build a strategy discipline, and progressing through evolutions that include engagement management and a lot of short-term travel. On that list was a bit of a disappointment: smaller inquiries became a lot less tenable. It became clear to us that the mom-and-pop or luxury-brand assignment that was perfect for Ai in 2007 was becoming obsolete in the Ai of 2010, despite our long-held belief that those projects are just as fun and fascinating, just as successful and profitable.
So, rather than forgoing those projects, or shoehorning them into the Ai engagement model, we decided to spin them out. We discussed it internally for months, kicked off informally in the spring, and on July 1 I took the keys to a then-unnamed second business unit at Ai. Over the summer we worked on our positioning and materials, and the news officially hit the digital community this week: Canopy is open for business.
I’m thrilled to be heading up Canopy and establishing a sister company for one of the industry’s great ecommerce shops. We know the Ai approach–hands on, user-focused, client-partnership–works just as well for a small retailer as it does for a large one. Our goal is to bring our expertise to multiple market segments.
I am still wearing my Director of Strategy hat for Ai part-time, which makes for interesting days, as I sometimes segue from an on-site visit with a Fortune 50 retailer to a phone call with the owner of a small fashion label. But the opportunity to take that enterprise-level knowledge and experience and apply those concepts directly to small- and midsize businesses is rare. Not many Canopy competitors can claim the same breadth of knowledge. That’s what led Ai to start this agency, and what excites me most about building it. The companies I speak with can’t wait to learn and grow. And that’s why we’re here.

links for 2010-09-27

  • I follow some travel bloggers and I'm always perplexed by their mileage accrual schemes. In this case, US Airways is giving away up to 100,000 bonus miles for people that get enough third-party activity on their plans. The author has mapped out a complex strategy to get the miles by spending $400 on various items he doesn't want or need, including a few throwaway car rentals and, of all things, a boutonniere. I appreciate that the 100K miles have an approximate value of $1,000–or more, considering that this man certainly is planning some redemption tactics to extract value–but I just don't see the utility in spending real money for what is basically store credit. Maybe if I were more of a road warrior I'd get it, but I dunno.
    (tags: travel money)

Now this is how to blog

Bill Simmons’ latest column on ESPN quasi-Rickrolls readers deep in football mode into watching Hulk Hogan defeat the Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden. Which, in turn, gets said reader’s mind into nostalgia mode, whereupon one quickly discovers all kinds of great Hulk Hogan nuggets–he was huge in Japan!–and then to the real “who knew?” moment, unearthing this thorough list of pro wrestling terms on (where else?) Wikipedia.

A worked screwjob, is part of the storyline and the match is intended to end controversially. A shoot screwjob is extremely rare and occurs when a change is made without one of the participants knowing, creating an outcome that is contrary to what was supposedly planned for the storyline by the participants. The most famous example of a screwjob of this type is the Montreal Screwjob.

Behond, the wondrous serendipity that is the Internet. And those 23″ pythons.