A Short Entrepreneurial History
Ideaz/World Friends: Brennan and Lacek’s first venture: a short-lived Soviet-U.S. pen-pal program for kids sold through Dayton’s and Nordstrom department stores. The fall of the Soviet Union in the early ’90s cut this idea short.
The Lacek Group: Sold in 1997, it’s now part of New York–based Ogilvy & Mather’s direct marketing unit. This loyalty marketing firm is still in downtown Minneapolis—and still operating under the Lacek Group name.
MilePoint: An online business that helped flyers convert frequent-flyer miles into online “cash” for use in stores and hospitality businesses. Sold to Toronto-based Points International in 2004.
Denali Marketing: A marketing agency that combines traditional marketing techniques, including brand strategy, creative work, and analytics, with a focus on customer retention and incentives. Lacek and Brennan say Denali’s revenues grew 110 percent in 2009, and they expect it to be a $25 million company within 12 to 18 months. It now employs 75; it plans to hire 25 more people in the coming months.
BidPal Network: An electronic-bidding device company now headquartered in Indianapolis. Lacek and Brennan remain shareholders; Lacek is board chair.
Zeitgeist Technologies: Software company that monitors Twitter for negative (and positive) tweets for client brands, and facilitates responses to influential tweeters. In beta; launching nationally this summer.