Hurrdat joins Omaha’s B2 Interactive after impressing on national project

Hurrdat, a digital marketing startup created four years ago in Lincoln by two former Nebraska football players, has been acquired by Omaha-based digital marketing agency B2 Interactive. The terms were not disclosed. Hurrdat will remain in Lincoln and keep all 17 employees. They plan to move to a new office in September. B2 grows to

Hurrdat, B2 logos

Hurrdat, B2 logos

Hurrdat, a digital marketing startup created four years ago in Lincoln by two former Nebraska football players, has been acquired by Omaha-based digital marketing agency B2 Interactive. The terms were not disclosed.

Hurrdat will remain in Lincoln and keep all 17 employees. They plan to move to a new, larger office in September. B2 grows to more than 70 people with the acquisition.

Hurrdat will continue to operate under the leadership of co-founder Adi Kunalic and retain its brand identity. Kunalic will also assume an executive role with B2 Interactive, overseeing significant portions of the combined firms’ digital marketing activities and operations.

“In Hurrdat, we saw a passionate team that loves what they do,” B2 co-founder Bill Hipsher said in a release. “We have had the pleasure of working closely with their team over the last couple years and have seen many similarities, including a passion for digital marketing, but we also embrace the unique elements of Hurrdat that will make us better as a whole.”

Founded in 2010 by Kunalic and Blake Lawrence, Hurrdat provides social media and content marketing services that help local, regional and national brands become digital influencers.

It’s gone through quite the evolution since its inception, Kunalic says.

“When we first started, Blake and I just wanted to solve problems,” Kunalic told SPN. “With social media marketing it came down to knowledge and sweat equity, and we came at it with this startup-like mentality even though we were more of an agency.

“Early on, we were so focused on making people around us—our clients, our employees—happy, that we hadn’t thought about a merger or acquisition or exit. It wasn’t until the last two years, when opendorse spun off and we grew into our own that we could build an agency.”

While they excelled at social media, Kunalic says like many entrepreneurs, Hurrdat was getting closer to a ceiling. They needed a whole marketing package to compete on a bigger stage.

“I think (a ceiling) is the hardest part that every entrepreneur faces. You’ve grown as much as you can and need more capital and resources to take that next step,” Kunalic said. “You want a good environment and give people things they need to excel.”

Both agencies say they are similar in culture, vision and passion for digital marketing. And a collaboration in late 2013 showed the potential to work together.

Hurrdat worked on the social media and marketing for Storage.com, a site B2 acquired and became a signature product.

“The success of Hurrdat on this national project as well as their success in the local marketplace really helped us in making the ‘hire or acquire’ decision,” Hipsher said. “Storage.com has seen such rapid growth this year and when that growth is coupled with the hyper-growth on a local level, it has led to a near continual need for additional team members this year.

“Hurrdat’s team has been a tremendous asset and team to add to help fill the gaps caused by this year’s growth.”

That’s when Kunalic realized a merger would be the best route for his company.

“We realized that both companies had the same goal to become the best digital marketing agency. We both were missing parts that the other had,” he said. “So now we can collaborate as two agencies and provide more value to both our clients.”

The deal combines Hurrdat’s social media, content marketing and branding expertise with B2’s expertise in search engine marketing, search engine optimization, web design and software development.

There will be no changes to services or teams for any clients at either firm and all employees at both firms are being retained. They also hope to fill six positions between Omaha and Lincoln. Hurrdat co-founder and opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence will serve as an advisor for Hurrdat.

There haven’t been many startup mergers and acquisition in Nebraska as of late. What Cheer and Pack joined forces in 2012 and MindMixer acquired VoterTide in 2013. In Iowa, Banno recently was acquired by Jack Henry and in Kansas City, Handmark was acquired by Sprint to form Pinsight Media+.

Kunalic’s three merger & acquisition lessons

1. If you expect it to happen in a month, it will take five. “Never expect it to be done as fast as you think it could be done. No way.”

2. Be transparent with your team. “I’ve been very honest with them at all times. From a legal standpoint with non-disclosure agreements, it makes it tough to operate, but you have to be honest with your staff.”

3. Successful mergers take three parts. A consistent vision for the future between the companies. A similar culture fit. An ability to offer more services than you can before. “If it’s a good synergy, than it’s going to be a successful relationship.”

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