When asked if Guelph was a good place to start a business, Rob Murray only had to stop and think for a few seconds before coming up with his answer. The energetic founder of Intrigue Media and his partner, Paul DeMarco, who long-boarded to their first sales call with laptops in their backpacks, now employ 25 people in an innovative local media business. “Fantastic, it is hard to imagine better support and resources,” said Murray, repeating a message he recently took to the Guelph Economic Summit in January.
“I’m not sure we could ever have gotten this business off the ground anywhere else,” Murray admitted. “After all, where else would a couple of college kids in shorts and t-shirts have been taken seriously? Not Toronto. Guelph has this fantastic set of people and resources, but it isn’t a closed community of insiders.” Murray and DeMarco’s ride began by joining the Chamber of Commerce and attending a regional Chamber business expo back in 2007 where they were introduced by Lloyd Longfield to a sales trainer and picked up early investment funding. With this great push-off, they then made use of other experts at the Guelph Wellington Business Enterprise Centre, honed their public speaking and took active roles in the Chamber. With the business building, they began working with Innovation Guelph, where they received further coaching and built a board of advisors that are with them to this day. It has of course helped that they had a great idea. Other than Yellow Pages, which was slow to adapt to new media, the big media companies had mostly mismanaged or ignored local markets, where there wasn’t enough scale to justify their expensive broadcast approach. But the Internet, social media and electronic marketing are perfect for reaching smaller niche markets, and the upfront investment is very affordable.
Intrigue Media not only made social media accessible for small businesses, but also added their own innovation, setting up a network of TVs in public spaces throughout the community featuring a mix of community-based content and advertising for their clients.
Although Intrigue Media is already rolling, with presence in 10 other communities across Ontario, they aren’t content just to coast and enjoy the ride. They have ambitions to take the business across Canada. And where does all this confidence come from? Being active members of a supportive community such as Guelph is a big boost. Murray and DeMarco sit on numerous boards in the City and firmly believe that good will for their business comes from giving back to the community. The results speak for themselves. “The openness and collaboration across all Guelph’s communities, business, non-profit and government, has been the key to our success and will continue to be a great platform for the future.”