In the late 1990s, three guys became friends while living in Lambton Hall. Although they didn’t know it at the time, their friendship would blossom into a thriving business partnership and draw them together with a number of other U of G graduates.
Jacob Fuller, B.Comm. ’00, and Nico Angka, B.Sc. ’01, along with Ryan Fitzgibbon, who started his post-secondary education at Guelph, manage an ever-growing number of companies. One leases domain names. A second, called 207 Media, is a fully integrated marketing, web development and search engine optimization company. Groovle.com is a website they developed to allow users to customize the start pages of their Internet browsers with photos and predesigned pages.
The partners made international news last December when they won a domain name dispute launched by Google.com. It is only the second time Google has lost such a claim in more than 200 cases, says Fuller.
They also own Canlift Equipment, a company that rents and sells construction equipment to contractors, and recently unveiled a new Facebook bingo application.
“We’ve been successful with most of the things we’ve tried,” says Fuller, whose wife, Linda O’Loughlin, B.Sc.(Eng.) ’01, and grandfather, Jerry Fuller, BSA ’50, are also U of G grads.
“We love doing new things, and because we’re good on the marketing side, we’ve been able to use our online experience to partner with people and strategically move in new directions.”
This partnering involves a collection of U of G alumni talent, including physical science grad Jim Mcfadyen, B.Sc. ’01, and hotel and food administration grad Ryan Barkwell, B.Comm. ’02. Mcfadyen and Barkwell own WizardWorks, a Calgary-based web marketing company.
Lookling ahead, Fuller, Angka and Fitzgibbon plan to expand their reach with the release of a new vodka cooler. Distribution for the cooler will be managed by national beverage supplier The Kirkwood Group, which is owned, in part, by Peter Kirkwood, B.Comm. ’01.
Although the three Lambton friends have a lot on their plates, Fuller says it’s all manageable because they have good support people in place. And despite the work that goes into managing so many ventures, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When we started, we were always worried about risk, and that kept us motivated,” says Fuller, who believes it’s better to assume the risk while you’re young rather than wait until you’re older and have more to lose.
“If you do go into business for yourself, be sure you’re willing to work hard and expect really long days. Don’t get into things you don’t know anything about unless you have a partner who does,” he adds. “And know that despite the risk and the hard work, there are many great benefits that await you.”