In 2001, musician Jamie Garratt and his brother sold expresstunes.com – a social media website for musicians that they had built while still in university.
They didn't think a social media site for musicians would be especially popular. Two years after selling the now-defunct company to a competitor, Myspace exploded and Garratt realized just how much he had underestimated social media's potential for growth.
So when Facebook came out with branded pages, Garratt seized the opportunity. His digital media marketing company, Idea Rebel, developed a content management system for making branded Facebook pages. It was an instant success. The company now has millions in annual revenue and continues to grow.
"From 2008 up to today, it's basically doubled every year," Garratt said. "We've basically doubled in staff, too."
Born in Toronto, Garratt moved to West Vancouver with his parents when he was 16. He studied commerce at Capilano University but switched to computer science at the University of British Columbia at the height of the dot-com boom.
He started out developing real-estate software, then joined the digital media marketing firm Blast Radius. In 2008, he left and founded Idea Rebel.
"Blast [Radius] was traditional web," Garratt said. "I saw an opportunity with mobile, because the iPhone had just pretty much come out, and social as well."
Small and nimble, Idea Rebel was able to generate 25 Facebook campaigns in its first year of operation.
The company has since broadened into a more comprehensive digital agency, developing for web, mobile and social media. Electronic Arts, BMW, Fox, 7-Eleven, Virgin, CTV and BellMedia are among its clients. The company employs 30 people in Vancouver, opened a 10-person office in Toronto in 2012 and plans to open an office in Los Angeles.
In addition to the company's financial success, the agency is known for its strong corporate responsibility policy. Its offices are completely paperless, and the company sponsors a number of charitable campaigns for breast cancer and Big Brothers.