Dave Larsen has always been one of my favorite writers at the Dayton Daily News.  He does a great job reporting business news in an engaging way.  Last year, Dave wrote the first ever article on our emerging business, so it only seemed befitting that he write the follow up.  We’ve had a lot of growth in the last year and are so greatful to all of the people we have been able to partner with.


Firm sees growth through ‘freelance economy’

A Dayton-area marketing agency that operates on a virtual network, without a central office location, is taking advantage of the growing U.S. freelance economy to assemble creative teams that suit clients’ needs, as opposed to being limited by a set of fixed capabilities, the firm’s partners said.

Lion + Panda, a “hybrid agency” launched in late 2013, uses traditional marketing and ties it in with digital tools such as websites, blogs, social media and search engine optimization.

The firm employs a staff of more than 20 freelance creative professionals, including writers, designers, web and mobile developers and marketing strategists, for projects that range from redesigning a website to rebranding a company.

In addition, the agency can draw on a network of more than 300 people with specialized skills on an as-needed basis, “allowing us to be very customizable for our clients,” said Philip Roestamadji, Lion + Panda co-founder and one of the firm’s three partners.

“We can pick who would be right for their team, who has the right passion for the job, and the capabilities and functions for the specific units that we are being able to provide,” Roestamadji said.

Lion + Panda has enjoyed success with its virtual model, adding nearly 40 new clients last year and expanding into the Cincinnati and Charleston, S.C., markets, said Kenny Brightman III, a partner in the firm. In January alone, the agency closed half as much revenue as it did in all of 2014, he said.

Roestamadji declined to disclose the privately held firm’s earnings.

In January, Lion + Panda hired its first full-time employee, marketing strategist Lexi Ball. The agency plans to add two or three more workers this year to manage accounts.



“We believe that we are going to double our clients” in 2015, Roestamadji said. Much of that growth is expected to come through partnerships, as well as the firm’s own marketing tactics, he said.

Current clients include Boost Rewards, One Call Now and Continental Fan Manufacturing.

Roestamadji said the agency has seen a “heavy increase” in manufacturing clients, providing them with digital marketing and website re-design, as well as back-end electronic commerce and database services.

Lion + Panda plans to launch a new technical division this year to complement its existing capabilities.

“Once they start trying to get more people in the door, they realize that processes they have aren’t equipped to handle the influx of new people,” Roestamadji said. The technical division will set up behind-the-scenes processes to help automate clients’ websites to handle their customers, he said.

Lion + Panda meets with clients at their own offices, or at restaurants, coffee shops or bars. The lack of a physical headquarters reduces overhead and allows the firm to expand virtually into new markets, without having to open offices in Cincinnati or Charleston.

“Playing to our strengths of search engine optimization and how we do digital, that helps us move into those markets just as easily — and in some cases, easier — than having a brick-and-mortar (building) downtown in either of those metro areas,” Brightman said.

Richard Kaiser, a co-founder and partner, said the firm has expanded its talent pool and service offerings three-fold over the last year.

Former city of Dayton spokesman Tom Biedenharn has joined the Lion + Panda team as a communications consultant and writer. The firm also has seen growth in video and animation, employing freelancers who have worked for such companies as Disney and Pixar.

Nationally, 53 million Americans work as freelancers, comprising 34 percent of the U.S. workforce, according to an independent survey commissioned by the Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk. This workforce is adding $715 billion annually to the economy through their freelance work, the report said.

“Freelance is happening in a very big way,” Brightman said.


Alex Salsman joined Lion + Panda as a contract marketing strategist because the firm’s virtual model appealed to him. “The whole strategy approach for me, the flexibility and customization of the projects we can do for our clients, also is something that is really important,” Salsman said.

Originally posted Saturday, March 21, 2015 by Dave Larsen – Staff Writer for the Dayton Daily News.