Growth at Red Dog Media (RDM) is booming as we celebrate our 15 year anniversary – hiring several new employees, decking out our fairly new office space, and hitting personal records left and right. One may ask how we got to be the successful company we are today, so let’s take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce about where it all started.
The concept of what we do today originated when Bryce Landier, founder and current CEO, was attending the University of Miami in his undergrad. What initially started as a passion or hobby turned into something unimaginable 15 years later.
Bryce shares in an interview that he “started a website dedicated to covering the football, basketball, and baseball teams,” at his university. With the desire to share what he created, he poked around with a new advertising platform where users could bid as low as $0.01 on search terms and only be charged once someone clicked on their ads and landed on their site. Said platform was first named GoTo.com, then Overture, and eventually acquired by Yahoo. This concept laid the foundation for the paid search ads that we see in our industry today.
Bryce started by paying $1.00 to have 100 people see his new site and not long after, Fanatics.com reached out to him with a partnership proposal. They were willing to offer him sales commission if he added a shop to his site with University of Miami gear and merchandise. With this new deal, he soon became profitable by buying paid search that converted into merchandise sales.
This introduction to affiliate marketing sparked an idea for a business, so Bryce decided to reach out to his brother, Michael. Both brothers had been playing poker professionally for a couple years prior and decided to take their winnings to fund and bootstrap their new company doing paid search on Google. Bryce explains that, “Michael had a computer science background and worked in a development shop during the dot-com boom (and bust) years before. It was the perfect match since I had the drive to build the business and Michael had the skill set to make it scale efficiently.”
A week before inception, Bryce got a fox red labrador retriever puppy named Red. Quickly becoming the center of their universe, the name Red Dog Media was officially born on July 31st, 2007. While both brothers grew up in Southern California, they decided to relocate to Henderson, Nevada when founding their new business venture. This decision was made in part due to Nevada being a business and tax friendly state and part the beautiful upscale suburb of Las Vegas being 15 minutes away, bringing them some of the best entertainment and dining on The Strip. As Red Dog Media was a fresh startup company, they were running the entire business out of their shared house in Henderson.
Running on a shoestring budget in the beginning, they continuously reinvested until the company had solid finances. While Michael and Bryce had a great partnership when starting out, they quickly realized they would need more than just the two of them in order to grow their business. That’s when they recruited two more employees a few months later – Seth, Bryce’s former college roommate, and Paul, Michael’s cubicle buddy at dot-com development. The four of them ran the ship for four years before bringing on any more employees. Red Dog Media has slowly grown to 36 employees and counting.
When Red Dog Media was first established, everyone on the small team wore multiple hats in order to bring the business to fruition. In the beginning, Bryce had his hands in almost all departments besides coding. As our team has grown, his role has shifted from practitioner to visionary where he now creates the vision and environment for others to succeed here.
When asked what the biggest challenge has been in regards to starting this company, Bryce shared, “It was a big risk starting the company and moving from California to Nevada. The toughest part was starting on a shoestring budget. I remember the first payment we received from a customer was for $5,000 on a Net 90 delay. We were sweating that payment, because if that money didn’t come in, then money we spent over the last three months would also likely be a bad receivable and that would have left us broke at the time. It took several years of plowing everything back into the company to build up the needed capital to properly run the business.”
While we have faced our fair share of adversity, quitting has never been an option. If something isn’t working how we’d imagined, we shift gears and try a new route. The resilience of Red Dog Media is what keeps us on our feet, adaptable, and ultimately successful. Bryce shares another story of overcoming strife, “The toughest time was at the tail end of the great recession. The fallout from the downturn caused a hard stop in the vertical that made up the bulk of our business. It was a test of our resilience. We worked through it by tinkering in new verticals, which ended up with us being more successful than ever, but nobody knew that at the time. It was a great lesson that has given us confidence when faced with other trying times.”
For professionals that are looking to start their own business, Bryce recommends reading the book, ‘The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It’ by Michel Gerber. He believes that this book does a fantastic job at debunking the mindset that being a good practitioner will make you a successful business owner and instead provides guidance on how to find the right path to success.
The internet marketing industry is fast-paced and ever-changing and Red Dog Media has evolved immensely over the past 15 years in order to keep up. When Bryce founded this company with his brother, he was looking for “an adventure that could also be financially rewarding.” He believes paid search to be the most effective form of marketing ever to be conceived due to the massive scale, instant feedback on ad performance, and the ability to improve and iterate one’s ads.
Due to this competitive industry, our team is tested daily on our performance. In order to stand out amongst competitors, we have to stay sharp, innovative, and focused. When asked how we stack up against other companies in this industry, Bryce said, “I’d take our team over anyone. I respect our competition. We go head-to-head with some of the best search marketers in the world every day. But what sets us apart is how dedicated and focused our team is at continually improving. As good as we are today, we’re going to be that much tougher tomorrow.”
His statement is reflected in the core values that characterize our working culture here at RDM: 1.) Be Curious; 2.) Be a Problem Solver; 3.) Be a Championship Teammate; 4.) Be Better than Yesterday.
Here at Red Dog Media, we embody a mindset of growth as we have evolved immensely in the past 15 years. The first major milestone was when the team of four became profitable within the first year of inception. In terms of office environment, it was a celebratory day when we upgraded from partially working out of the Landier household to all being under the same roof in our new office in 2020. Or the fact that we more than doubled our headcount with 22 new employees between 2019-June 2022. When asked what achievements he thinks are notable, Bryce shares, “There are lots of external achievements that are impressive, like how we rank compared to competitors in driving quality traffic. But I think the internal improvements we’ve made to building a company with a positive culture where people can thrive is what is most worth celebrating.”
While we might have some seniority with this anniversary under our belt, not all companies are guaranteed success strictly because they’ve been around a long time. Bryce attributes RDM’s success to our: “willingness to adapt. We’ve had tough times – like the Great Recession or the Covid pandemic. But we’ve flourished because we’ve been open to change. That goes for good times as well; we know we can’t be stagnant.”
When it comes to Red Dog Media’s future, we are looking to build an all around great company that makes our employees think, “This is the last place I’d ever want to work…in a good way.”
This article makes me smile. I have always thought that the work environment should contribute to it’s employees feeling like this. “The last place that I ever want to work” meaning, there is no need to keep refreshing my resume’ because I will not be searching…I do not WANT to work anyplace else.