Crummer Alum Builds Award-Winning Marketing Agency, Looks to Crummer for Talent
Net Conversion co-founder Ryan Fitzgerald `99MBA has grown the analytic-driven marketing agency, Net Conversion, to over 60 employees. Roughly a fifth of them are Crummer graduates.
Crummer News was able to get a tour of one of Orlando Business Journal’s 2019 “Best Places to Work” and “Coolest Office Spaces” – Net Conversion in downtown Orlando.
Crummer alum Ryan Fitzgerald `99MBA started the company in 2007 with his business partner Frank Vertolli, after quitting their jobs on the same day.
After roughly seven or eight years of slow, steady growth, the marketing agency took off within the last few years, growing to over 60 employees and managing about $175 million in client dollars.
A key factor in the growth of Net Conversion has been Ryan’s close relationship with the Crummer Graduate School of Business. The Crummer Career Resource Center and Net Conversion have built a robust internship pipeline and Ryan says about a fifth of the 60 employees have a Crummer MBA.
We sat down with Ryan to ask a few questions about his journey.
What is your background?
Ryan Fitzgerald: My dad graduated from Crummer in the late 70s and I grew up here in Apopka. I went to the University of Florida and then came back for my MBA at Crummer as part of the Early Advantage MBA program. I started my career in travel hospitality, working at Disney, Delta and then Universal. I met my business partner, Frank Vertolli, at Universal, where I was the director of analytics and he was the director of online marketing. We both left our jobs on the same day to start Net Conversion.
How did you scale Net Conversion to what it is today?
Ryan Fitzgerald: We’ve never had business development as a job function here. It’s always been word of mouth via people I’ve met at Crummer, through Universal and Delta. That’s really how we started growing our client base. We got to a point where our clients started referring us out and that’s when the growth really got explosive and took off.
You just recently moved into a new office building in downtown Orlando that’s already been dubbed one of the “Coolest Office Spaces” by the Orlando Business Journal. Can you tell us about the new space and your plans for expansion?
Ryan Fitzgerald: Our building is here on the corner of Jefferson and Magnolia in downtown Orlando. There’s three buildings on this block, we bought one of the others because this is the last office I’ll ever be in and I’m not moving. We also have plans to and the first right of refusal to buy the third building. Our goal is to own the block at some point.
How would you describe the culture you are building here?
Ryan Fitzgerald: The culture, first I would say is fun. It’s fun and competitive, meaning that people really want to do a good job. They aren’t satisfied with “we’ve always done it like this” or “this is just OK”. We are shooting for greatness every time. Whatever our client’s expectations are, our expectations are way above that. We don’t always hit that, but our goal is to always be above and beyond.
You look to Crummer often for your talent. How has that relationship developed over the years?
Ryan Fitzgerald: In the last five or six years, Crummer has been a huge source for us. We have a very robust internship program where we take primarily MBA students in-between their first and second year. They work part time during the following year, then when they graduate they are hired and they are ready to hit the ground running. We have a very high percentage of Crummer graduates on our staff.
What does it mean for you to be a Crummer alum?
Ryan Fitzgerald: Crummer has done a lot for me, without Crummer I wouldn’t be here. It really set me on an accelerated career path, which led to this. Beyond that, I’ve had such a good experience over the past five or six years reconnecting with the faculty, the staff, and really helping us with this internship program. That’s been invaluable to me, so I’m happy to do it and I’m proud to be a Crummer grad.