Ping-pong balls were flying in every corner of the room.
Straight ahead, kids were navigating the climbing wall. Closer to the DJ, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was talking to Mindgrub Technologies founder Todd Marks and Emerging Technology Centers President Deb Tillett. The party was in honor of Mindgrub, as the company let the public have a look around its new office in Locust Point last Wednesday night.
Located in the former Phillips headquarters adjacent to McHenry Row, Marks said the move represents the completion of Mindgrub’s move into Baltimore city from Catonsville, which began when the company moved to an adjacent building temporarily in May 2014.
Along with the climbing wall and ping pong tables, the 28 Walker-developed modern office space has plenty of open desk space, meeting rooms, kitchen and great view of the city.
Marks said the easy access to transportation, including I-95, made the area a logical choice for a company with growth plans. With McHenry Row a short walk away, food options are also bountiful.
“Locust Point was pretty easy to identify as the next up-and-coming area,” Marks said.
The physical home isn’t the only part of Mindgrub that is expanding, however. Along with the new office, the company is also expanding its reach.
Marks announced that the company acquired 4Thought, a web design and online marketing firm previously located in Hampden.
With the deal, 4Thought founder Steven Promsiloff and the company’s other three employees are joining Mindgrub in the new offices. Bringing on 4Thought gives Mindgrub the opportunity to move into web design, marketing campaigns and logo design. The company has already worked with big clients like Wendy’s, AOL and Yamaha. Now, Marks wants to give those companies more reasons to keep Mindgrub onboard past a single software development project.
Along with marketing offerings, the company is also adding quality assurance and more R&D on the technology side. For instance, Marks said, the company is currently working on three projects utilizing beacons.
Marks hasn’t completely settled on a label that reflects the vision of the expanded company. For now, the branding says, “Technology Innovation Agency.”
“We have the capability of any digital agency from a general perspective, but we are very much specialists in technology innovation and software development,” Marks said.
Mindgrub and 4Thought had worked together for clients in the past. With the four-person team onboard, Marks set them to work on designing a new logo.
Mindgrub also recently overhauled its website, marking the end of a five-year project.
In the coming year, the company is looking at more acquisitions — and expansion into a New York office.
At the office, the serious expansion plans and hard work co-exist with a beer club, yoga classes, occasional drone battles and anything else the company’s Fun Committee puts together.
“We try to excel at the play part as much as the work part,” Marks said.
While there isn’t a slide (yet) and the humble beginnings in Marks’ basement continue to be part of the company’s ethos, there are definite hints of Silicon Valley in the space.
“Between a cool office and really good benefits and perks, we hope to be as attractive as a Google,” Marks said. “We need to compete for that.”
The tech giant is of course much larger, but Marks believes he needs to provide an experience commensurate with what the best talent would expect.
“Even though we’re in Baltimore, our competition is not local,” Marks said. “It’s international.”
Rawlings-Blake, for one, is onboard.
After listening to the announcements along with the rest of the crowd at last week’s party, Rawlings-Blake took a moment to say Mindgrub’s growth pleased her “personally and professionally.” She said the company’s move into Baltimore city and its growth reflected her desire to see more millennials, more entrepreneurs and more innovation in the city, and promised to keep working for them.
“I’m not going to squander this opportunity for growth,” she said.