Coalition is still largely a services company but also has a few products. It’s a well-managed journey.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Jordan Brannon: I was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I grew up primarily in Washington state in a smaller community. It’s about an hour and a half south of Seattle. I have three brothers and we largely stuck to the northwest throughout my childhood.
I ended up going to the University of Washington in Seattle. I roomed with my brother who inspired much of my entrepreneurial journey. He was a finance major and always interested in testing something new, doing something new. He was always quite competitive. He was always eager to do something better.
I tended to think more in a traditional sense of looking for employment and working your way up based on merit. Today I still live in Washington although our company was founded in Los Angeles with my older brother Joel. I’ve since moved back to Washington.
I have three kids and we live not too far from where I grew up. That’s enabled by the fact that our company has been remote-first. We’re an e-commerce-focused digital marketing agency, web design and development agency, and a SaaS provider.
Sramana Mitra: I’d like to understand how you guys founded the company and how you moved through the different stages of the company. I can already guess that you’ve had several product and service phases. What year did you finish school?
Jordan Brannon: I graduated in 2008.
Sramana Mitra: Did you start the company right away?
Jordan Brannon: I spent about a year trying to do traditional work. At that time, Joel began to do some freelance work focused on e-commerce. He was the one who lured me in a few months later to found Coalition. He got me out of the mindset of continuing to do what I was doing in terms of my career path at that point.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you guys finally get going with Coalition?
Jordan Brannon: We founded the company in 2010. That was when we decided that we needed to do something more committed and long term.
Sramana Mitra: What was going to be the value that you would offer? What was the thought process at that time?
Jordan Brannon: The original idea came from the recognition that for small and mid-sized businesses, e-commerce was out of reach largely due to the difficulty of finding reliable service providers. In 2010, most of what was happening in e-commerce was dependent on professional services companies.
We came up with this idea of Coalition. We’d bring together a group of specialists who would be accessible to small and mid-sized businesses primarily in Los Angeles. We’d be able to provide the talent pool that they would need to get into e-commerce as a revenue channel.
Sramana Mitra: That included all kinds of talents?
Jordan Brannon: Correct. Joel’s background was programming and pay-per-click advertising. I had some experience in SEO, user experience, frontend design, and content marketing. We initially hired to bring in additional frontend developers and engineering talent to supplement what we were good at. We scaled based on our weaknesses. We looked for people who would be a good complement to what we were incapable of providing on our own.