#BostonSpotted: A Chat with Breakaway Innovation Group


Breakaway agency in BostonGet to know Breakaway and how they contribute to the hustle of the Hub.

Agency Spotter is all about helping marketers and agencies get to know each other. Discover the talent that makes Boston’s Breakaway Innovation Group (aka BIG) a unique combination of strategic consultancy, creative agency, and venture capital firm. They start small and build big.

Location: Boston’s Back Bay
Core Service: Innovation
Additional Services: Social Media, Branding, Marketing Strategy, Design Strategy

How did Breakaway get its start in Boston?

Breakaway was originally launched as a venture capital firm in 2006. Realizing that almost every early stage company needed help with creative and strategy, Breakaway acquired Jones, a small but hot (now we say wicked hawt) Chicago agency, to create a hybrid venture and branding firm.

We hear Breakaway isn’t your standard creative agency. What makes you guys different?

Breakaway-Innovation-OfficeWe’re very different in a lot of interesting ways. We have the business acumen of the venture side, which is far deeper than any agency can boast. We have a few former CMO’s as high-ranking agency folk so we often have as much (or more) marketing experience on our side as our clients. And we have a really, really high bar for creative and design. We do the right things for the right reasons and execute the hell out of it. That makes a pretty good brand soup.

How do you go about finding innovative, game-changing companies with which to work?

Having money to spend on companies changes the dynamic quite a bit. We’re constantly talking to cool companies who are looking to get to the next level. Sometimes that’s with investment. Sometimes that’s with advertising and marketing. Sometimes it’s with both. We see a lot of great ideas and great technologies and we often pair them up with larger companies looking for that innovative edge. It’s a pretty powerful ecosystem. Often large brands come to us who just need a spark, a completely new way of looking at things without bias. We’re damn good at finding the truth.

What are the unique challenges to brand building for an early stage business?

Money and time are the top two. They’re always in a hurry and they never have enough to do what really needs to be done. That’s just the nature of the beast. So you have to be smart and nimble and find ways around it. The really great entrepreneurs know what they are good at and what they aren’t, then seek out the best partner at that other thing and let them have at it. They trust. When you get an entrepreneur who thinks they can do it all and do it better than anyone, that’s trouble with a capital E.

Let’s imagine Breakaway was mayor of Boston for one week. How would the city be improved by the end of the week?

There would be $4,000,000 in jay walking tickets issued, so we’d have a nice kitty to pay for the reggae band and free Bugles corn snacks at the inaugural bash. Every lane in every toll would be an iPass so the only people actually waiting in line are the people that are still living in 1989. And Newbury Street would be closed to traffic every weekend so we could collectively enjoy the amazing summer and fall without having someone’s car bass vibrate your esophagus.

We noticed one of your clients is running shoe manufacturer Newton Running. Does the Breakaway team enjoy running together?Breakaway-Innovation-at-Spartan

We’re a competitive group. For a small shop, we have a preponderance of great former high school, NCAA and semi-pro level athletes. We’ve run together. CrossFit. Tough Mudder. Spartan. November Project. Two employees even started a push-up challenge that now has over 50,000 fans. We will mess you up.

Thanks for chatting with us, Breakaway!

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About Claire Wallace

Claire writes about strategy, insight, and advice to help inspire smart and savvy marketers. She completed her MBA at UMass-Amherst and has been a team member at City Sports, MIT, and an organic farm in Maine. A former student-athlete at the University of Wisconsin, Claire now runs marathons, for fun! On her bucket list is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, dining at Per Se, and running the beautiful trails in New Zealand.