Rockfish Interactive Launches New Venture Capital Fund

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Friday, Mar. 11, 2011 8:34 am  

Kenny Tomlin, CEO of Rockfish Interactive of Rogers, says the new investment arm of his agency will concentrate on the latest digital innovations.

Rockfish Interactive, a Rogers digital marketing and development firm, has launched a new venture capital fund.

Rockfish Brand Ventures will focus on the latest digital innovations in the consumer internet, mobile and retail markets. The fund will provide startups with both funding and domain-specific expertise in technology and marketing, according to Rockfish founder and CEO Kenny Tomlin.

The Rockfish fund is the second new venture fund to enter the Arkansas market in the past three months. Gravity Ventures launches its Arkansas fund in December.

"Rockfish Brand Ventures is another component of what we believe it means to be a digital innovation partner," Tomlin said. "It will help us expand our commitment to incubating new companies by creating a unique fund for investing alongside our clients in the businesses of other entrepreneurs. At Rockfish, we don't just sell digital but are an important partner in shaping the future of digital innovations."

Tomlin said Rockfish Brand Ventures is a new model of agency ventures, helping startups by providing domain-specific expertise in building and creating products and in marketing and distributing to customers. The company expects to make approximately 10 investments over the next two years, partnering with venture capital firms and other investment groups.

Tomlin said Rockfish Brand Ventures will help accelerate the ramp of entrepreneurs and start-ups by "seeding them with big brand ad spend and relationships."

"From day one, Rockfish has been committed to digital innovation on behalf of our clients and our own company," said Tomlin. "In only five years, we have incubated and launched more than 10 brands and proprietary technologies, while simultaneously becoming one of the fastest-growing and award-winning digital agencies. This is a natural evolution to our model."

The investment committee for Brand Ventures will be composed of six senior Rockfish staff members. Joining Tomlin will be Rockfish executuves Michael Stich, Dave Knox, Jeremy Wilson, Dawn Maire and Steve Clark.

In addition to the investment committee, Rockfish Brand Ventures will have an advisory board comprised of industry veterans with backgrounds in technology, venture and marketing. The advisors will provide deal sourcing, perspective on industry trends, and other support.

The first member of the board to publicly announce his participation is technology executive Carl Everett, who was most recently a Partner at venture capital firm Accel Partners with past experience at Intel and Dell.

"Joining the Board of Advisors at Rockfish Brand Ventures is an exciting opportunity," said Everett. "I am looking forward to advising the team on a venture strategy that enables growth of the agency and its clients using the power of digital innovation."

The Brand Ventures division will be staffed in all three of Rockfish's major offices in Rogers, Cincinnati and Dallas.Rockfish also has an office in Little Rock.

Clients of RockfishInteractive include Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Cisco, Procter & Gamble and Tyson Foods. Rockfish has been recognized as the OMMA 2010 Agency of the Year for Web Design & Development, ranked third on the 2009 Ad Age Agency A-List that recognizes the 10 best agencies in the world, and placed in the 2010 Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies list.




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