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.