Communo was founded about a year ago by Calgary marketing gurus Ryan Gill and Chris Kneeland, who turned Cult Collective into an internationally-recognized marketing firm. The new enterprise is a membership-based community of vetted businesses. Once they’re approved and become members, they can access the talent pool that exists within the community.
There are various levels of membership but the standard one is $199 a month for a 12-month term.
“Communo connects people to projects and projects to people,” said Gill, CEO of Communo and former president of Cult Collective. “We are a place where agencies and creatives thrive through the giving and getting of work, and the sharing of vital resources.
““The marketing industry is falling apart around us. Agencies of record are disappearing. Agency staff attrition is higher than ever. Clients need more than a traditional agency is able to provide them. It’s broken for everyone.”
Gill said the world is changing more quickly than the marketing industry.
“The on-demand economy is disrupting a number of long-standing industries. First it was the taxi industry and then the hotel industry, and now it’s the marketing industry,” said Gill, who ran a small agency called Suitcase Interactive a few years ago.
“As a small business, it’s a very volatile income stream. You’re busy one month and not busy the next month. But you have very fixed expenses, which are people and your space. The sharing economy is very in vogue now. I wanted to create a marketing platform that was built on the sharing economy and being able to scale up and down very fast. So basically we built this platform where thousands of solo-preneurs and creatives are able to join and become members, as well as thousands of agencies.”
The beauty of Communo, he said, is being able to connect to others very quickly.
“We all have the same problem. You need talent on an as-need basis and in the world of instant access, when you need something right now, this platform allows you to find vetted talent, professionals, with the click of the button,” said Gill.
Communo has 12 full- and part-time staff in Calgary and 1,000 active participants across North America. The company plans to hire up to 40 more staff and grow the membership tenfold by the end of 2018.
Members include a variety of marketing professionals, from web designers, computer programmers, graphic artists, freelance writers, social media experts, to photographers and video production crews. In all, 43 different disciplines are represented on the platform.
Communo has a co-working space in the Inglewood neighbourhood where people can rent a private office, a desk for a day or have a dedicated desk on a longer term. Similar locations are expected to open in Vancouver and Toronto this summer. Plans are in the works for compounds in Atlanta, Dallas and Seattle.
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.
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