Ad Agency Initio3i Buys Digital Agency, Aims to Grow

CEO Geoff Grassle aims to grow Minneapolis-based Initio3i by offering traditional advertising and digital capabilities under the same roof.

Minneapolis-based advertising agency Initio3i, which spun off of Initio Advertising last year, announced Tuesday that it has acquired Minneapolis-based digital agency Catalyst Studios.
Financial terms of the acquisition, which closed February 1, were not disclosed.
Initio3i is a full-service agency that focuses on strategic positioning and creative execution. CEO Geoff Grassle told Twin Cities Business that the agency launched in 2012 after he and two other partners at Minneapolis-based Initio Advertising had different ideas about how they wanted to grow the agency.
While he said his partners wanted to continue to focus on traditional advertising and outsource digital projects as necessary, Grassle sought to develop an integrated strategy that combined traditional advertising and digital capabilities under the same roof.
So after splitting amicably and forming Initio3i, which shares an office with Initio Advertising, Grassle began searching for a digital agency to purchase and looked at three other Twin Cities firms before determining that Catalyst Studios was the best fit in terms of expertise and culture.
Catalyst is a 14-year-old agency that specializes in online advertising and digital products and services including mobile, social, apps, websites, games, and e-commerce. Its clients include Target, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Ev3/Covidien, and Ameriprise Financial.
Meanwhile, Initio3i’s clients include med-tech company Medafor, Miracle Ear, the National Institutes of Health, Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital, Douglas County Hospital, and whole-grains manufacturer Indian Harvest.
The combined agency has 17 employees, four of whom came from Catalyst. Grassle said Catalyst employed additional staff prior to the acquisition, but some opted to pursue other opportunities before it was completed. The four Catalyst employees who joined Initio3i and now work out of the same office are seasoned user-interface and user-experience experts, Grassle said.
Grassle declined to reveal the combined agency’s specific annual revenue but said it’s between $4 million and $10 million. His mission is to continue to grow Initio3i by securing new clients across the region and the nation, and he’s not concerned about having a client roster that contains the biggest names.
“I don’t want to be a Periscope,” he said, referring to Minnesota’s second-largest ad agency based on revenue. “That’s not what our vision is. We work really well with mid-sized companies. It’s not about working with massive brands. It’s really about making a difference for our clients.”