Firmology’s How I Power My Business series profiles the technology business owners use to run and grow their business.
Longtime friends, Tom Keekley and Rob Haskin, founded Olive & Company in 2003 after uninspiring jobs left them with a desire to start their own creative design agency. Looking to create a collaborative anti-corporate work environment that was both fun and inspiring, they started with their company name. After all, what was more fun and inspiring than the paw prints of Rob’s spontaneous puppy, Olive, on the carpet of his living room.
Name: Tom Keekley
Title: Co-Founder and Partner
Business: Olive & Company
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Smartphone: iPhone 4s
Tablet: iPad Mini
Computer: 27″ iMac
Other Gadgets: Pencils and an Evernote Moleskine
What’s the story behind your business?
Olive & Company is a marketing design agency and a terrific place to come to work every day. I am surrounded by extremely smart, funny, and creative colleagues. We work hard to provide unexpected and highly-optimized marketing design solutions for our clients — websites and web apps, B2B sales tools and collateral, e-marketing … even a commuter train wrap recently.
I founded Olive a decade ago with Rob Haskin, a longtime friend from college. We were both serving in creative leadership roles at Minneapolis companies, but were frustrated with internal corporate apathy. We wanted to create a business where bureaucratic overhead was minimized and creativity was encouraged. We have stayed true to that.
Ever since we began, we’ve emphasized digital and web which has served us well with current clients and projects that rely so heavily on mobile, social, and highly-targeted marketing strategies. Our passion for design helps us find unique ways to communicate to our clients audiences on any platform.
What apps or services are essential to the operations of your business?
We’ve used 37signals’ Basecamp to manage our client-facing communications and project management since the program was released. It’s been going through some growing pains in it’s latest version, but I still think it’s the best option. We use ProWorkflow for invoicing, estimating, time tracking, and reporting. It’s complicated, but integrates well with Xero for accounting.
What apps, services or gadgets do you recommend to other business owners?
I think I am most focused on a well-tended email inbox. We run our Olive email through Google, and I always come back to using the web interface instead of stand-alone clients. It’s well-supported on iOS and integrates with Streak, a Gmail-only plug-in which I use for tracking new business opportunities. Since the vast majority of day-to-day communication occurs there, making sure you are responding to and aware of situations keeps you on top of things and allows you to delegate your time better throughout the day.
Being in the service industry, the best way we can watch the bottom line is to use the experience and expertise of our staff to scope and execute projects as efficiently as possible. Technology can help, but it comes down to us in the end.
Favorite mobile app(s)?
Favorite personal app(s)?
How can others reach you?
If you have a suggestion for someone we should feature, questions we should be asking, or would like to be featured on Firmology’s How I Power My Business series, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: How I Power My Business