Digital Rising Star

Staff of the marketing firm Pyxl Inc. meet with their community banker, Lynne Lawson Fugate (center) of CapitalMark Bank & Trust in Knoxville, Tenn. From left to right, Nicole Denton, Kellye Coleman, Jerod Mills, Pyxl president Josh Phillips, Fugate, Taylor Dudney, Brenna DeLeo, Kelly Steffen and Chad Simmons.

With CapitalMark Bank & Trust by its side, Tennessee startup Pyxl hopes to change the face of online marketing

By Josh Fine

Knoxville, Tenn., situated in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains, probably doesn’t come to mind as a home base for innovative marketing firms. However, one fast-paced, fast-growing upstart digital marketing firm, Pyxl Inc., is challenging that perception.

Established in April 2008 with four employees by investor Brian Winter, who was looking to turn around a traditional-style marketing firm, Pyxl has been growing and moving forward along with the Internet and its social media offspring ever since.

Today, Pyxl has 25 employees, a branch office in Tempe, Ariz., and big-brand clients located nationwide. While the company specializes in digital communications channels, its expertise is well rounded enough to handle various marketing projects, whether that means tackling one big assignment or becoming a client’s entire marketing department. The company averages about 30 different projects a month, often working with big-brand clients from Washington, D.C., to California.

“We have a very high-touch process when dealing with customers. We talk to them a lot, give input and look for feedback,” says Pyxl’s president, Josh Phillips.

Phillips attributes the rapid success of his company mainly to having young, tech-smart employees who grew up with the Internet. But part of Pyxl’s success has also been its early relationship with CapitalMark Bank & Trust, a $750 million-asset community bank in Knoxville. CapitalMark has served Pyxl from the start.

“A lot of larger banks would look at you and say, no way,” Phillips says. “CapitalMark stuck with us through the ups and downs of the economy. They made it easy for us to navigate the times and figure out what we were doing with our company at the beginning when a lot of banks weren’t supporting startups.

“The bank took an interest not only in our company but in our employees as well. They’ve done a really good job of keeping up with us and talking to us about what we might need to continue to grow.”

Lynne Lawson Fugate, an executive vice president at CapitalMark Bank, says, “This client embodies the close, advisory banking relationship that differentiates CapitalMark. For me, the best reward and ‘thank you’ a banker could receive is to see a client succeed.”

For the future, Pyxl is tapping into the expected huge growth in mobile Web marketing projects, Phillips says. Growing from humble roots, nurtured by new talent and an established community bank, the company appears to have a long and bright future. endmark

Josh Fine, a student at James Madison University, was an ICBA marketing and communications intern last year.