Founder’s Chronicle: Interview with Anson Sowby, Founder of RocketXL

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Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)



Rocket XLWhat is RocketXL, and how did you get started in the field?

RocketXL is a creative digital agency with offices in Los Angeles, New York City and Toronto. We're lucky enough to have AOR (agency of record) relationships with some of the world’s largest brands like Dove and Pepsi. I co-founded the agency a number of years ago with whip-smart business partners who, like me, came from the client side of the table. In the early 2000s, we were each targeting online influencers via chat rooms, message boards and forums, but as the blogosphere came of age, we saw an opportunity to build an agency around these new influencers. And thus, RocketXL was born. We've greatly evolved over the years to become a full-services digital agency, but our core remains in building campaigns around true influencers — wherever they may be.

How can individuals in the marketing/advertising industry (i.e. agencies, CMOs) partner with RocketXL to create either more impactful end-results or enhance in-house performance?

As an agency, we have a very unique mix of clients, as we're big enough to work with the likes of Unilever and Kraft yet entrepreneurial and passionate enough to take on projects for the United Nations and Guayaki Yerba Mate. Our number one goal is to be scrappy — getting things done at all costs. And so with every campaign, we ask ourselves one question: is the juice worth the squeeze? The juice is all the great stuff that's created within our agency. But before anything leaves our doors, we take a step back and consider what we're asking our consumers to do. From “liking” a Facebook ad to interacting with a digital billboard, our job is to understand how people will act and react to it — especially as things constantly evolve in this digital landscape we live in. We build things that consumers want to engage in. It's fun for them, it gets results for our clients and it makes us happy. That's when we know that the juice is worth the squeeze.

What is your view of where RocketXL currently stands in the marketplace today? What is the future of digital marketing look like?

Our social and digital marketing services continue to be the hot areas for most marketers, no matter the brand. But in order to stay that way, we as an industry need to improve our measurement metrics. Tying our campaign successes to the most important measurement of product sales will guarantee our longevity as an agency and industry. That's not tough to do when driving eCommerce sales, but clicks-to-bricks is a whole different ball game that we as a digital agency industry have not solved.

As an entrepreneur, what impact has branding had on your venture’s success so far? How do you approach marketing? With whom do you collaborate to get your message out to your target audience?

New business is a constant focus for any ad agency, especially an entrepreneurial group like Rocket. At any given time, we're either involved in at least two major AOR pitches, or we're speaking to five different brands to sniff out the right opportunity. It goes without saying that new business wins are paramount to our health, as it allows us to move into new industries and energizes our staff.

What entrepreneurial ideas and start-up lessons can advertising professionals apply to creating breakthrough work?

My biggest lessons come from my 3-year-old son Luke. If I can keep his attention with a message, then I can keep anyone's attention in our campaigns. Being a father has taught me that I can't ram any message down my son's throat. I have to make it worth his while by choosing the right time, the right delivery and the right mix of rewards. These simple principles apply to any of our ad campaigns — from Dentyne gum to Caress body wash.

Many advertising professionals find themselves interested in entrepreneurship. What advice would you give to someone with marketing skills interested in starting a new venture?

There will never be the perfect time when the stars align to start up a business. If you have a client or two willing to take a chance on you, go do it!

Thought leaders in marketing regularly reinforce the idea that agencies (and other marketing-oriented organizations, too) should collaborate with startups. Do you agree? Why? How would you like agencies to collaborate with your organization?

I couldn't agree more. Startups remind all of us that we have to constantly remain hungry. If not, we're on the road to an early retirement. Startups also teach us to not accept the status quo and to always try new things without getting caught in the rut of life — a trap that's too easy to fall into.


An advertising agency entrepreneur with a client-side brand marketing background, Anson Sowby co-founded and leads the operations of RocketXL, a digital creative agency with offices in Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. Previously, Anson launched successful business units and startups in the film, toy and video game industries. The business units and products that he’s created have grossed over $1 billion. Learn more about Anson at



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