Top 50

Top 50: From the Ground Up Potenza’s explosive growth gains national attention.

by Chelsea Yaeger

Frankie Russo
Photo by Robin May

It was only a decade ago that then-26-year-old Frankie Russo and his younger brother Giorgio cofounded Potenza Creative — now Potenza Inc., a media and marketing agency. Today it’s one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S.

For the past three years, the brother-run powerhouse made Inc. Magazine’s annual Inc.

5000 list as one of the top 500, placing it in the top 10 percent of the nation’s 5,000 fastest-growing private businesses — and it isn’t difficult to see why when you consider that big brother and overachiever Frankie Russo, CEO, was a mortgage broker before he graduated college. Russo says he just received word that the company is officially an Inc. 5000 company for its fourth year in a row.

“When I found out [in 2014], I was actually in an airport,” he reminisces. “I got an email notification in the Dallas airport, and I got this overwhelming emotion. For the first time in years, I felt validated because, as a business owner, when you’re growing that fast it’s hard to have a milestone. It was an amazing feeling.”

In addition, Russo says Potenza has just become a Google Premier Partner, something the company has been aspiring to for years.

“It sets us apart with other digital agencies,” Russo says of the program.

“We built Potenza from nothing,” Russo tells ABiz. “Building a company that fast, you bear the brunt of all of it. I didn’t have 60, 70 employees in place.”

In fact, there were only four people when Potenza started out, including the Russo brothers. Now, 60 people are employed at the Lafayette-based advertising, marketing, creative and software company.

Between 2010 and 2014, Potenza had more than 650 percent growth; between 2015 and 2016, the company’s revenue rose more than $3 million to $10 million.

Russo says “the No. 1 thing” that drove business up was the company’s release of the software platform Return Flight, a “digital advertising tool to measure your results.”

Potenza bought the software platform in 2015 to bring it in-house. Then, last January, Potenza released the 3.0 version of its software.

“It’s just continued to evolve rapidly each month,” Russo says. “At the end of the day, we’ve been a fast growing company for a while [and are] already on pace to be higher [this year].”

Looking forward, Russo says he’d like to “be able to really build a great platform for the marketing industry while continuing to deliver best-in-class services on the agency side.” However, Russo says his big vision has less to do with Potenza and more to do with helping out others who want to start their own businesses.

Russo published The Art of Why, a book on “mastering your purpose,” as the front cover reads. An Amazon best-seller in the self-help section, the book has led Russo to give talks and workshops.

“I’ve done them in a lot of the U.S. major cities,” Russo says. “The main talk I do now is called ‘Passion, Purpose and Profits: How to Turn One Into the Other,’” he says. “I want to reinvest into other entrepreneurs to help them do what I’ve done.”