Longtime marketing strategist Shane Needham wanted to escape the bubble of the corporate world, as did some of his close colleagues and friends – so they decided to take a leap of faith.
Needham, who has worked at well-known firms such as 22squared and served on the Tampa Bay Wave board, founded Coconspirator, a marketing firm that has values such as transparency and open dialogue without the parameters typical marketing giants would abide by.
“When I started this in 2018, I came off the heals of 22squared. I’ve been in ad agencies close to 20 years so it was time for a change,” Needham said. “Being around the entrepreneur community, I took some time off and freelanced.”
The name Coconspirator emerged when he and colleagues joked about his love of spy movies, and potential names. The name caught on and activity quickly took off, especially during the pandemic.
“I was a little skeptical about the growth at first, we gained a lot of clients. Seeing that growth, that’s when I brought in Ally and Saya as partners,” Needham said.
Tampa native Ally Gannon is the Chief Connection Officer and Partner. Prior to joining Coconspirator, she was the Marketing Director of Synapse Florida.
Saya Heathco is the Chief Brand Officer and Partner. For 10 years, she served as Director of Strategy for 22squared, where she led a cross-office agency team to build and strengthen brands like Publix, AdventHealth, Baskin-Robbins and The Home Depot.
“This idea to bring them on is that we all came from large corporations, and we’ve known each other in that environment. The thought is what happens when you take the shackles off of talent,” Needham said.
“We were sitting around a bonfire and saying what are we going to be doing in our 40s. The sky is the limit and we don’t ever want to not be friends and not work together,” Gannon said, recalling the initial talks.
Gannon explained she’s covered the full trifecta from the ad side to the buyer and vendor sides.
“I was working until my card got pulled,” she said, noting how the talks escalated. “I wanted to be with the smartest people I knew.”
Heathco was at the same bonfire months ago.
“One of our values here is to treat clients as best as we can, and if we can be generous if they are in need. I feel we have a greater impact,” Heathco said.
She and Gannon officially joined Coconspirator in May.
Both Heathco and Gannon have over 15 years of experience in the marketing industry and were comfortable in their steady jobs, but the pair also shared the same mindset as Needham on branching out, and had the confidence to succeed given the long list of clients and firms they’ve worked with.
“We are small and nimble. For us, it’s about building that client roster over the years in this industry; who you work with gives you a lot of credibility,” Needham said. “To date, we haven’t done a lot of advertising, it’s all been referral-based and I’ve been engaged with the tech community for years.”
Today, the firm works remotely and its clients include Tampa-based investment consulting firm AGW Capital Advisors, MetroLagoons and Ybor-based Blind Tiger Coffee.
Needham has bootstrapped the company and is not currently seeking any outside investment.