Mention the US state of Arkansas and usually two items come to mind: 1. the birthplace of William Jefferson Clinton, US President and former Governor of the state, and 2. the global
headquarters of Walmart, now ranked as the #1 company on the latest Fortune 500 list. Now add a third item to your Arkansas notables— Rockfish Interactive, a fastgrowing
agency/consultancy/tech solutions company, now with global ambitions, founded on innovation and created by Kenny Tomlin.
Kenny founded Rockfish Interactive in 2006 after leading a successful interactive company in Dallas, Texas. Through a unique leadership style, a top-notch team and an intense drive to provide a great customer experience, the company has grown from a handful of employees to 85 full-time professionals in four years. With the unique ability to innovate and integrate—in other words, to conceptualize and build web sites, mobile applications, microsites, e-commerce sites, widgets, social media and other custom software initiatives—Rockfish designs, develops and deploys solutions for clients as well as products incubated in the Rockfish Labs division. The company is a trusted partner to some of the largest and most successful companies in the world.
Name an innovative idea or business solution for which you are most proud. It’s easy to point to the awards that we have on the shelf for the solutions that we’ve provided to Walmart, P&G, Mott's and others. Or, to look at how we're changing the way industries do business today with the solutions that we're working on that leverage today's mobile technologies.
However, as a technologist at heart, I'm proud of the ideas that have germinated from within Rockfish that we've built into successful companies. Rockfish Labs has been responsible for an award-winning Twitter application, TidyTweet; our own coffee brand, Silver Joe's Café; and the recently launched PlayNextLevel.com, which connects high school and junior college football players to college coaches nationwide.
Why do people see you as an innovator? Personally, it’s just a part of who I am. I've been involved in several start-up businesses that have been reflections of my passion for entrepreneurialism. I love to evolve ideas into solutions. My door is always open to a new idea, and employees stop in frequently to hash them out. It's the way that I’m wired—to see the opportunities that exist in the world.
Dictionary definitions aside, how would you characterize innovation in the work you do? Innovation is what we do. An idea can come from anywhere, anyone and at any point in the process of developing a solution, and we will quickly evaluate what it may, or may not, add to the overall project. Being a digital innovation partner is about understanding the project needs, being an expert in technology and merging the two into an industry-changing solution.
At Rockfish, we don't stand still; we're constantly on the lookout for new technology and new opportunities to apply that technology. Application could include anything from improving a client's business to building a brand new enterprise from scratch, which we've already done several times. We also know that we're not going to have all of the ideas. There are great companies and entrepreneurs that need a partner to take their business to the next level, and we're here to work together to determine the strategy that will result in success. And, we hire good people who have an ability to adapt and a knack for survival. We're changing the way agencies, consultants and technology companies do business because we're all of them rolled into one full-service, digital partner for innovation.
International Expansion Plans for the Future? Not only are we helping companies grow, but we're also growing ourselves. Rockfish has opened up three new offices in the past twenty months with a fourth is set to open in Cincinnati. Our eyes are on Asia and Europe in the not too distant future. After all, our own coffee company, Silver Joe's Café, already has a store in Tokyo.