Every year, GROWTH 500 (formerly known as PROFIT 500) ranks Canada’s fastest growing companies. Published on CanadianBusiness.com and in print in Maclean’s magazine, GROWTH 500 celebrates the best of the best in Canadian business.
We are thrilled to announce that GROWTH 500 has featured LinkNow Media once again—for the 3rd year in a row! With a 307% revenue growth, between 2012 and 2017, we ranked a solid 230 on the Canada-wide list. Making things a little sweeter is the fact that we were also featured as Montreal’s 26th fastest growing company. With our sights set on new projects and new hires—not to mention our upcoming 10,000 client milestone—we’re very excited about everything we have planned for 2019!
So, what is it that makes LinkNow Media so special? Why is it that, year after year, we stand out from the competition? Is there a secret formula for our growth? A recipe for success?
Meet Our CEO: Wesley Mendelovitch
Like all the top CEO’s in Canada’s business world, Wesley Mendelovitch (or just Wes as we call him around here) is an entrepreneur through and through. He lives, eats, and breathes the entrepreneurial spirit. He’s been like that since he was a teen, taking on his first telemarketing job. A lot may have changed since those first days on the telephone, those first days of cold-calls and closing deals, but one thing hasn’t—his enthusiasm for work and everyone he works with.
You see it around the office—it’s infectious. Wesley happens to be one of the most approachable CEO’s you could imagine. He often walks around the office introducing himself to new team members and getting into long conversations with senior ones. The conversations are often animated, funny, and unapologetically relaxed. When you speak to Wesley, you don’t feel like you’re speaking to a CEO, you feel like you’re speaking to a teammate. As a result, everyone feels respected in the workplace and empowered to do the best job they can.
Wesley’s success in the business world didn’t happen overnight. It took years of dedication, hard work, and of course—some failures along the way. Prior to LinkNow Media, he and his business partner, Sonny Bettan, ran a student loan consolidation company and indemnity health insurance company. When the government introduced legislation that aimed to regulate those industries, they were forced to close both businesses.
This hit was compounded with another: just prior to closing these businesses, they had decided to hire a web designer to build them a website. By the time the designer had finished their website, the businesses were already closed. With a huge bill to pay and no way to pay for it, the timing couldn’t have been worse.
But it gave them an idea. They knew that having a website was an essential part of running a successful business. For many industries, it was impossible to run a business without one. But the price for a custom website was simply too high for many small business owners to afford. They asked the question: could we eliminate this barrier of entry and make websites that were easy to afford for small to mid-sized businesses?
And so, in 2009, LinkNow Media was born. Exploiting this gap in the market, Wesley and Sonny opened a small telemarketing company that aimed to provide small to mid-sized businesses with simple but well-designed websites.
In those early days, it was tough to keep everything together. It turns out, for example, that contractors, plumbers, electricians, and handymen, aren’t always familiar with the way the internet works. They might know that they need a website, but because their focus is always directed at their day-to-day work, it might seem like a pointless luxury. Sales were challenging and keeping the three commission-based salespeople motivated proved difficult.
Wesley was not swayed. He knew the idea was worth fighting for. After a chance encounter in a grocery store turned into an investment opportunity, he and Sonny were able to secure the financial support necessary to make LinkNow Media thrive.
Throughout the years, Wesley has remained headstrong about the need to make LinkNow Media grow. For many years, making a profit was not the goal—it was growth. Everything was reinvested back into the company. From those early days with a team of five (including Wesley himself), he has managed to build LinkNow Media into one of Canada’s fastest growing companies. In 2016, after relocating to our current—much larger—office space, LinkNow Media was ranked 27th on PROFIT 500’s list of Canada’s fastest growing companies. That same year, with a five-year revenue growth of 2755%, we were also ranked Canada’s #1 fastest growing media and marketing company.
Trust is the Secret to Success
For Wesley, it’s clear that LinkNow Media is not just a project—it’s his life. He’s very humble about it. In fact, when I approached him for this article, he made it very clear that it should not be about him or Sonny. It should be about the tight-knit team that has worked tirelessly to build LinkNow into the company it is today.
There’s something very special about working at LinkNow Media. What sets us apart from other companies is the amount of freedom that each employee is given. There’s a fundamental respect for everyone’s ability to make good judgments about the work they do. On a day-to-day basis, this helps to create an overall feeling of job satisfaction. Employees don’t just feel like they are contributing to the overall success of the company—they actually are.
Trust, as it turns out, is an important part of creating a positive company culture. Since the explosion of start-ups over the last decade, many companies have paid lip-service to this point. Typically, the steps these companies take to create that sense of responsibility don’t go beyond one-off team-building events and periodic motivational speeches.
At LinkNow Media, things are different. Management fosters trust by taking a distinctively hands-off approach. There’s no one breathing down your neck or looking over your shoulder. There’s no one correcting you before you’ve had the chance to make a mistake. Mistakes are considered a valuable part of the learning process and learning is considered extremely valuable both on a personal level for each employee and for improving the client experience more generally. Trust and responsibility go hand-in-hand at LinkNow Media.
This means that nowadays, Wesley can relax a bit. While his extremely talented Heads of Operation, Eve Mendelovitch, and Raymond Keaton, keep the day-to-day tasks rolling along smoothly, the work of improving products and streamlining our services is left to each individual department. Of course, the CEO is going to have a hand in all major decision-making, but to a large extent, it’s the employees and their team leaders who take on the role of problem-solving and decision-making. Everyone benefits from this freedom.
Collaboration and Communication
Another key component of LinkNow Media’s company culture is our emphasis on collaboration. As mentioned above, we moved to a new office in June of 2015, to accommodate a host of new hires. On top of giving us more space (or rather, enough space for our employees), moving to a new location also gave us control over the kind of office we wanted—and what we wanted was one that fostered open communication, easy exchange of ideas, and speedy decision-making.
And we got it. Our open-concept office allows members of our local SEO team to take a couple steps and clarify a point with our Content Department. Meanwhile, if content has a question for our sales team, they too, are just a few steps away. If our Welcome Department needs to reach out to the Design Department—there’s nothing standing in the way!
The open-concept helps us to create an atmosphere of collaboration. This means that everyone feels comfortable moving around the office and helping each other out. We all feel like we’re on the same team.
The kind of easy communication that’s fostered at LinkNow Media contributes to the feeling of making a difference within the company. We emphasize face-to-face encounters. Do you have a question? Head over and ask it—from openers to closers, from local SEO to organic marketing, from design to programming, we all work together to make LinkNow Media a little better every day.
Find Your Place on the Team
Another key feature of LinkNow Media’s growth is our ability to find and keep talent. All over the internet, you’ll find articles discussing the changing priorities of the modern workforce. If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that the modern workforce—made-up in large part by millennials—wants two things: a sense of security and a sense of meaning at work.
At LinkNow Media, we’ve worked hard to offer our employees a sense of security. We’ve done this by offering a base salary that’s combined with a commission and bonus structure and after working with us (for a relatively short period of time), all our employees benefit from our health insurance policy. By rewarding hard work, we offer our employees a sense of security that can be hard to come by in the modern job market.
When it comes to finding meaning in the workplace, LinkNow Media has taken a distinctive approach by offering a collaborative, respectful, and friendly work environment is one side of the coin. The other side is, that we offer our employees the opportunity to move around within the company. You might get hired as an opener and then, when an opportunity in local SEO opens up, you’ll be able to apply for the position.
This applies to everyone in the company. Many people have moved between two or three or even four departments. In this way, employees can create goals for themselves. Work hard, prove yourself, and find the position that suits you best. As a result, employees are happier with their jobs and management is happier with their teams. What more could you ask for?
Well, there’s one last thing. We also encourage giving back to the community. Across the city, there are children who don’t get any gifts during the holidays, so we figured we’d try to do something about it. Every year, the employees hold a talent show to raise money for The Batshaw Youth and Family Centres—an organization that works with children in the foster care system. We also buy gifts for many of the children that the organization works with. Every year, our Secret Santa campaign gets a little bigger and this holiday season we look forward to making it better than ever!
Looking Toward the Future
We couldn’t be happier to be ranked—once again—on GROWTH 500’s list of Canada’s fastest growing companies. It’s an honor and privilege. In the coming weeks, as we approach our goal of 10,000 active clients, we can’t help but look toward the future. There’s a lot of work to do and we’re ready to tackle it!
We have a ton of stuff planned. In just a few months we’ll be expanding our offices to accommodate more hiring. That means more people to help deliver our services faster, more efficiently, and more accurately than ever before. We’ll also be able to improve our current products and add new ones to our roster. It’s an exciting time to be part of this ever-growing company.
Most importantly, we want to thank everyone out there who has supported us along the way. Without your help, there’s no way we could have made it this far.