The last ten years have been a difficult time for advertising agencies, especially in the Chicago market. The number of agencies—independent as well as holding company affiliates—that have contracted or shuttered has been widely publicized. Through this turbulent decade HY Connect has managed a double-digit income increase almost every year. This growth has been the result of thinking entrepreneurial with strategic acquisitions, organic expansion of services, development of competencies such as “Marketing to Women” expertise, and focus on best practices related to long-term client relationships. In a move that capitalizes on this upward momentum, HY Connect recently brought on two high profile Chicago entrepreneurs to its Board of Directors. Neither is in the agency business.
Shradha Agarwal is the co-founder and President of ContextMedia, and co-founder of Jumpstart Ventures. ContextMedia is a health information company working with 4,000 hospitals and practices to deliver educational videos to patients across the nation. Jumpstart Ventures invests in entrepreneurs with ambitious solutions in the healthcare, education and media spaces.
Emerson Spartz is the CEO of Spartz Media. A leading expert in virality, Spartz has been the driving force behind popular websites such as OMG Facts, GivesMeHope and MuggleNet, which he launched as a 12-year-old.
Both Agarwal and Spartz have demonstrated a fearless approach to change and innovation in their careers. Both were also named to Crain’s 40 Under 40 List in 2012 and thought of as leading entrepreneurs in Chicago.
“We believe the agency business is an entrepreneurial business so adding two of Chicago’s most highly sought after entrepreneurs would bring even more of that kind of thinking to the agency,” said HY Connect President Dave Sheehan. “We have always embraced the notion that the best ideas come from untraditional sources and we are excited integrate Shradha and Emerson into leadership roles on our board.”
HY Connect services many of Chicago’s most recognizable names – Advocate Healthcare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, Museum of Science and Industry, Arlington Park Racecourse, The Design Center at the Merchandise Mart as well as a broad array other regional and national accounts. The agency passed the $20 million in income mark in 2013 and now has over 170 employees, a long way from the four employees the Chicago office opened with in 2002.