When Strongpoint merged with Möbius New Media last year, it was a marriage made on Market. Now, the new company, renamed NüPOINT, operates alongside a half dozen performing arts companies inside The Grand Opera House -- as well as in Tucson, where Strongpoint first opened and the partners there still live. Now that the honeymoon period is over, we checked in with newly-wedded agency guys Jim Donahue and Matt Urban (seen above with creative director Jorge Del Fabbro) to see what merged life is like:
Jim (managing partner): When Matt and I first started talking, Strongpoint had been in business here for five-plus years and we were doing fine in communication strategy, branding, and public relations work. But we didn't have much of a digital presence when it came to websites – which clients always want – and SEO and social, those sorts of things.
Matt (managing partner): I had two business partners who had exited the company and it was just me running things. We were on a really slow growth trajectory and it was a question for me of how to best propel this company into bigger growth down the road. We didn't have the PR skill set, or the market research skillset – it just wasn't in our wheelhouse.
Jim: It's unusual for an agency of this size to have a free-standing research function, as Strongpoint did -- and still does in our Tucson offices.
Matt: And Strongpoint wasn't equipped to house full-time designers, whereas we were. So we saw the opportunity.
Jim: So we'd have lunch or a beer every once in a while and just random discussions – ‘what ifs’ and ‘what would it look like’ and ‘how would that work’? Come June or July of 2018, it was serious and we had lawyers – far too many lawyers – and accountants, balance sheets, P&Ls, legal documents, signing things, and here we are.
Like many modern marriages, when you joined together, you both changed your names. I’m curious, did that take awhile?
Matt: There were close to a hundred names that were not chosen.
Jim: I would say probably over 100.
What was the worst?
Jim: The worst? I know you'll use it, so I might as well put it out there. The worst was Strobius.
Matt: No, that wasn't that wasn't the worst. The worst was something with “comm” in it. C-O-M-M works. CommWorks. Really? No. No. Nooooo.
Jim: It's funny because the name itself was the big gorilla in the room the entire time we were having all of these more important discussions with lawyers and accountants. And it just sat there the whole time until we couldn't avoid it anymore. We challenged everyone to put together a short list of names, but it was actually a summer intern who developed NüPOINT. And then she completed her internship and off she went.
Obviously, you two had to decide on a place to live. So what made you decide to pick up from Superfine Lane and move into Möbius’ place on Market.
Jim: I loved being on Superfine Lane. You cannot beat that address. I mean Market Street has a certain cache … but ‘Superfine Lane’ has a whole 'nother cache. But it just wasn't big enough for the people that we have. Market Street made so much more sense – economically, space-wise, and creatively. There's nothing like being able to walk out and go to a dozen different restaurants at lunch.
Matt: The building hums. There's a feeling in performing art spaces that you can't replicate anywhere else. We're right underneath the First State Ballet studios. And when the little ballerinas are all dancing in unison, it sounds like a herd of elephants. You can feel the floor move.
Jim: You should have been here Friday. Friday, they had some sort of regional ballet tryouts. So there were a lot of a lot of girls here. My chair was literally bouncing.
Matt: And we hear sound checks happening at The Grand.
Jim: George's office is best for that. My office is best for the ballerinas.
And this is a good place because you’re both art types. Jim, you’re an armchair authority on modern art. Matt, you’re a musician and co-owner of The Rock Orchestra.
Matt: And I think that we have a lot in common a lot of similarities in terms of how we think about the work that we do. We definitely come from different backgrounds, and ultimately a company is made of the minds that exist within it and how well they can work together. There’s good, deep thought that's happening about the company and about the engagements that we have now, and that makes all the difference.
Jim: When I go by the old Strongpoint offices on Superfine Lane, as I did just this past weekend, I realized that NüPOINT was the right thing to do. We would have been limited in our growth potential had we stayed where we were, both in that business format and physically in that place. So I don't look back.
Matt: I think we're at the tip of the iceberg for what the potential is. Our first six months, we were getting all our ducks in a row. Now, 2019 is off to a really great start, because we're seeing how we can push these opportunities in different directions and how we can realize the vision the brought this all together. It's different than just forward momentum. It's s almost an exponential thing. I can't quite see what's the end of it, but I know we're heading toward a much different place and it's exciting.