SBA 2014 Nevada Small Business Winner

Small Business

Think Tank Loves Monday Mornings

Who loves Monday mornings? Noble Studios does. The reason they say is “Passion. It's more than loving what we do. It's about looking forward to a new week, working alongside people we call friends.”

This creative atmosphere, fostered by founders Season and Jarrod Lopiccolo brought this company from a small beginning to a strong, remarkable group of 38 driven, innovative minds that include entrepreneurs, strategists, creatives, developers and account managers.

The little company that started in Carson City, Nevada in 2003 as a two-person, home-based web and marketing company has become one of the region’s fastest growing tech companies. It’s grown from a small boutique digital agency to a multi-million dollar tech company with a client roster of global brands – Asics, Autodesk, Barnes & Noble, Cisco, Farmers Insurance, Ford, HTC, Wildfire by Google, Verizon and Paramount Pictures.

While still in his 20’s, Jarrod was named 2010 SBA Nevada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Now in their 30’s, Jarrod and Season together with their partner Michael Thomas straddle a generational point of view influenced by a generation where relationships and referrals were the key to success, yet evolving quickly through a vital understanding and mastery of modern technology. The partners realized that patterning their company after a traditional full service agency was not the key to their long term success. So, they created a company focused on the digital space, specializing in web, mobile and social media. One client was so happy with the Noble-created social media application that they described it as “smooth as a gravy sandwich.”

Exponential growth: Noble Studios’ growth has been phenomenal. In 2013, Inc. magazine included the firm in its annual list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. From its humble beginning as a home based business, the company expanded in 2011 to downtown Reno into an 8,650 square foot office space where they are leading the charge to position downtown as a tech hub.

Noble Studios’ revenues grew at a 50% annual clip from 2003 to 2007, 44% in 2009 and 42% in 2010. The company saw an increase in revenue from $1.6 million in 2011 to $2.6 million in 2012, $3.5 million in 2013 and expects to reach $8.9 million by 2015. In 2014, the partners plan to grow the staff by 10%. Although the company has tripled its staff size in the past three years, it continues to operate without a single investor.

Adversity: the 2007 recession dealt a death blow to many small companies. Noble Studios responded by expanding its digital marketing brand and reach to the Bay area, targeting and securing service agreements with international brands. As a result, the company not only survived, but expanded in 2008.

It’s the team: Noble Studios cares for its employees and enjoys a low turnover rate. The partners believe in hard work and big rewards. The company pays 100% for medical, dental and life insurance for employees and their dependents. In addition to paid holidays, staff receives an initial 15 days PTO which includes “family week” for all at Christmas. Budget is allocated for a healthy workplace - healthy snacks, company-branded bicycles for employee use, company field trips to a climbing wall. The company regularly hosts catered meals for the team, a monthly massage therapist, retreats, barbeques and parties to encourage team building. Continuing education is encouraged, and reimbursed to foster innovation and leading edge practice.

And staff has a voice. First Tuesdays, an extended team meeting to shares new business, reviews current projects, celebrates milestones, solves challenges and exchanges ideas. On remaining Tuesdays staff gathers for knowledge sharing and team building.

Noble Studios team is heavily invested in the community. Led by its Community Outreach Committee, in 2013, the team donated more than $102,000 in services and funds and volunteered more than 1700 hours. Launched in 2014 is a program to offer $75,000 to $110,000 of pro-bono services to Nevada nonprofits and startups.

The partners are passionate about attracting new business to Nevada. In 2013 the team developed an award-winning interactive campus tour for the local university to attract young, tech-savvy and talented high school students. The agency also built websites for three northern Nevada economic development agencies to showcase the region’s favorable business climate.

Staff is encouraged to plan an active role in the business community. Collectively, the team holds 19 active board and committee positions throughout northern Nevada. Both Jarrod and Season judged the 2013 regional collegiate business plan competition.

Noble Studios has frequently been recognized for the quality of their work. In 2013, the firm garnered 45 industry awards. They are viewed as leading edge thinkers in northern Nevada and often in demand as speakers on digital strategy, marketing and entrepreneurship. Michael Thomas was recently tapped for an interview by MSNBC’s In Business in New York.  

And they’re not nearly finished. In 2014 they’re targeting large Fortune 500 brands and will continue to position the company as a leader in digital marketing.