This article was first published in Boston Voyager Magazine.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Harris.
Dana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
After receiving my MBA at Babson College in 1990, I got the entrepreneurial bug and always wanted to start my own company. In 2000, I saw a niche to start a boutique PR agency focused on helping emerging tech companies create high impact, targeted communications by senior-level professionals exclusively at a more affordable price than large agencies. I joined forces with a seasoned marketing professional and ex-client Lisa Allocca after leaving Schwartz Communications as a Senior VP where I got hooked on turning small companies into industry leaders during the dot com days.
We founded Red Javelin during an economic downturn in the fall of 2001 within days of the Sept 11 attacks where we had just been in a meeting that Friday with one of our first clients TimeTrade who had a senior professional on the plane originating in Boston. We started with several clients and embraced the virtual model from the start to grow our business. Fast forward to 2018 and we are proud to say we grew revenues 500%, have over 10 associates and as a boutique agency offer personalized services to typically 10-12 clients at any given time.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
As with any growing business, there are ups and downs and it comes down to dedication, perseverance and passion about what you are doing that win and keep you going. We consciously wanted to keep Red Javelin as a boutique with a laser focus for helping exclusively emerging tech companies. He hired very senior associates, those with over 10 years’ experience, that were rock stars at understanding complex technical products and implementing proven public relations to generate the high impact coverage our clients needed to increase brand awareness and become industry leaders.
We stuck to our belief that stop start programs don’t work and provide retainer-only services- a smart strategy that helped us establish strong relationships and provide strong value. Some of our clients – Teledyne Dalsa and American Science & Engineering – worked with us for over 10 years. This helped us weather through the ups and downs of when clients were acquired, ran out of money, etc.
Three years into our business, I was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma and went through grueling chemo and radiation treatments while having two young daughters, but found work my stability and the virtual model, a supportive network (business partner, family, Sudbury friends, and husband) key to my healing.
Please tell us about Red Javelin Communications.
Red Javelin Communications is an integrated marketing firm focused on helping technology & industrial companies drive sales and build their brands. We combine value storytelling with smart PR, social media, and content marketing to fast track brand awareness, lead generation and business growth.
We’ve developed a reputation for being smart and creative thinkers, with a no-nonsense, proactive approach that gets results. Over the past 16 years, we have worked with some of the most promising and exciting innovations poised to change the way we work and live, from start-ups to publicly-held companies. We have represented some of Mass’ leading tech players in to build visibility as well as a strong supporter of Mass’ start up community – TripAdvisor, American Science & Engineering, Acquia, LearnLaunch, MassTLC, NxStage, and in the intersection of the most disruptive innovations including AI, security, IoT and deep in industries such as manufacturing, health tech, ed tech, clean tech, etc.
Our strength is in emerging markets, in communicating complex technologies to the market, and we have been instrumental in more than 45% successful exits. We’re masters at customer-centric storytelling and translating technical innovation into a sales advantage.
Red Javelin has deconstructed the traditional agency model to pioneer a more agile, responsive way of working—creating value efficiently. We combine an in-house team and agency partners to give you the experts you need for your specific marketing needs.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I probably wouldn’t have done anything differently at the beginning. We were as any other entrepreneurial company – passionate about what we were able to offer to the market at time where tech companies could no longer spend $15-20k per month on outsourced PR services but needed the same level of buzz to rise above the noise level to gain a competitive edge and drive industry leadership.
As social media and content marketing became increasingly larger part of the marketing mix and owned media was integral to the marketer’s workload, Red Javelin stayed focused on PR services. We could have jumped in a little sooner to this opportunity but have quickly integrated them into our services and hired great writers and social media mavens. We also are an inbound marketing agency and most of our people are Hubspot certified and provide monthly blogging services to clients such as the smart lighting giant Osram Sylvania.
I also think I would have considered renting office space to foster more collaboration and attract some fabulous associates that we were unable to work with in the virtual model. It’s never too late, however, so we will see!