How These 2 Filmmakers Became Nike’s Advertising ‘SWAT Team’

Los York’s co-owners define their company as a “new kind of agency.” If its growth is any indication, they might be right. This story originally appeared on Inc.com.

Seth Epstein (left) and Dex Deboree of Los York. CREDIT: Miko Lim

Los York’s two co-owners tell somewhat different origin stories.

The way Dex Deboree tells it, his boss–the owner of a well-known but struggling TV ad production company called Stardust, and a guy with a “tumultuous reputation“–called him in on a Friday afternoon in 2012 to discuss the future of hisailing business.

“I can’t do it anymore. I’m the problem,” he told Deboree, who was Stardust’s managing partner at the time. “I think you should buy the company from me, or I’ll close it down.”

Deboree immediately called his now-partner, Seth Epstein, to gauge his interest. The two filmmakers didn’t know each other very well, but they had worked on a project together in the past. Deboree remembered feeling a sense of “synergy” with Epstein. By Monday, they owned the company, which they eventually rebranded as Los York.

Epstein’s version, on the other hand, goes like this: Stardust’s owner–a friend, and a great guy who was just burned out and needed a break–reached out to Epstein three months before the deal. “I’m thinking about selling the company,” he told Epstein. “Are you interested?”

Epstein was, but the sale fell apart. Stardust’s self-presented revenue and debt figures didn’t line up with what Epstein was seeing.

Still, throughout the process, Epstein was meeting Deboree and the two developed a mutual appreciation from a distance. And then Epstein had an idea. He called up Deboree midweek with an invitation to join the deal–because if the company didn’t get bought, it was going to go under. By Friday, they had paperwork. On Monday, the company was theirs.

It probably doesn’t matter who called whom, because regardless, the two men turned out to be pretty good business partners. In 2015, thanks to partnerships with brands like Nike, Motorola, Toyota, Sonos, and WeChat, Los York pulled in almost $16 million in revenue, up from just over $100,000 in 2012.

At a whopping 14,405 percent, that growth landed the company at No. 8 on this year’s Inc.5000. According to Deboree, they also erased approximately $1 million of debt left to them by Stardust’s previous owner in just six months.

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