At the convergence of Lyndale and Hennepin Avenues, the Loring Corners building serves as a gateway to downtown Minneapolis. It’s also the new home of digital agency Spyder Trap, which has expanded to 40 employees in five years.
Launched by a 23-year-old Mike Rynchek in 2008, Spyder Trap serves as a one-stop shop for digital marketing, covering everything from social media and mobile marketing to app development, search engine optimization, and web design and development.
“I saw a real opportunity in the marketplace to offer a truly integrated approach to digital marketing,” says Rynchek, owner and CEO. “We’re very specific in our skill set and deep in our skill set, and we built our company differently than most agencies,” focusing completely on digital marketing from the start.
Tim Brunelle, president of the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association, observes that while some marketing firms focus on one or two specialties, such as mobile marketing or social media, Spyder Trap has managed to flourish as a generalist. “It would be easier, frankly, to focus on one thing,” says Brunelle. “But if you can take care of all these things for clients and integrate them for clients, that’s the Holy Grail.”
Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota sought the agency’s help on several updates last year. Building a new website for Children’s involved migrating content from 10 management systems to one. A social media campaign grew Children’s Facebook followers from 5,000 to 35,000 in a few weeks. And the firm developed a mobile application that helps users with directions, making appointments, finding doctors, and more.
Tim Kehoe, director of digital marketing at Children’s, raves, “They are an unbelievable partner—the best agency I’ve ever worked with. It really starts with Mike. He’s absolutely on board with our mission. And then he has this commitment to go above and beyond our project list. They’re growing in leaps and bounds, but he makes you feel like you’re the only client they have.”
Rynchek, now 28, embodies this roll-up-your sleeves approach, having paid his way through St. Cloud State University by consulting and powering up a social networking site. He likes to talk about the company’s “blue-collar mentality,” by which he means a culture of hard work, not being showy, getting the job done, and self-reliance.
It’s been an effective formula. Despite opening at the height of the recession, the firm grew revenue to $350,000 in 2010, hit $2 million in 2011, and finished 2012 at about $4 million. Such rapid growth can be tough on a young business, but Rynchek made a concerted effort to grow smartly. One of his first hires was a financial guru with start-up experience, Barb Vanags, who guides Spyder Trap’s operations, cash flow, and capacity for work versus staffing.
Another key hire was Stacey Medellin, a recruiter charged with landing the best digital talent. Spyder Trap provides robust benefits, paying 100 percent of employees’ medical and dental insurance premiums, offering flextime, and supporting employees’ favorite causes.
Spyder Trap quickly outgrew its former home in the Whittier neighborhood in south Minneapolis, moving to its 15,000-square-foot office space across from the Basilica of Saint Mary last fall. The new location will help foster collaboration, Rynchek says, with spaces for coffee, cocktails, gaming, and walking workstations. That might sound lavish, but the young CEO says staying in the old office without enough space to grow might actually have been riskier. Besides, he says, Spyder Trap is a data-driven operation, so he and his team know what it can and can’t afford. And it’s been profitable and self-supporting since day one.
Health care accounts for about 30 percent of the agency’s work, with the remainder a mix of retail, hospitality, and service companies. Spyder Trap also serves clients on the East Coast and in Denver, where it opened its second office in summer 2012.
“We’re constantly trying new ideas and chasing new opportunities,” says Rynchek. “What’s cool about Spyder Trap is we’ve built it in the worst economy in 50 years, so hopefully our future is bright.”