When Jimi Plouffe traded his Playstation 2 for a filing cabinet, he knew that his priorities had changed. At the time, the teenager had set up a small web design business in a bedroom at his parent’s house. He’d gone from video games to buying website domains. Ten years later, he now co-owns Momentum, a web development and digital marketing firm that is celebrating the grand opening of its new office in downtown Utica. The business started in 2010 and had one employee in 2011. Now there are 12 employees who have worked with more than 500 clients. To say that’s impressive growth is an understatement.
A young entrepreneur
Jimi says that it all started in 8th grade, when he was assigned a biography project that asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. He wrote: “I plan on pursuing a career that is based upon computers. I am interested in careers such as web design, computer programming, and graphic design.” So that’s what he did. Over the next few years, Jimi constantly studied and experimented with internet technology. He absorbed everything he could and challenged himself by learning how to build websites and refining his eye for design. Then, at 18-years-old, Jimi started James Michael Solutions and began creating websites for a small number of clients. To better accommodate the new venture, the self-taught designer rearranged his bedroom at his parent’s home, taking down his posters and installing a corner desk. He worked long hours and sought out customers in need of digital assistance. He also received work from local agencies who needed to outsource projects. It helped him build a solid portfolio and several relationships with other web developers. One relationship grew into something more – a business partnership.
Jimi and Adam Sgammotta, a fellow web developer and distant cousin, met in 2009 and instantly connected over their shared entrepreneurial goals. Adam previously owned several ecommerce companies and had studied business administration in school. He wanted to open his own company and was ready to leave his full-time job at a local design agency. After working together on several projects and hosting a few brainstorm sessions, the pair sat down at Buffalo Wild Wings and drafted their first joint business plan. Their idea: to build a new website design and development business called Momentum. In 2010, they were ready to make the jump and opened up shop in Jimi’s apartment. That first space, another 10’ x 10’ bedroom, was where they recruited clients and worked late into the night. They were setting the foundation for something great.
After a successful first year, the pair hired their first employee and moved into an official office space in Clinton Township. By their third year, they had worked with more than 100 companies, hired five additional employees and cracked nearly $1 million in gross revenue. Jimi and Adam had a successful firm on their hands and they knew they needed to expand their operations to keep pace with demand from customers. So by 2016, the pair had hired several more employees and added to their service offering – now providing digital marketing services such as search engine optimization and online advertising. That year also marked the beginning of their search for a larger office and the start of new strategies designed to recruit and retain talent. For instance, Momentum has chili cook-offs, team building activities, dog mascots, ping pong tournaments, flexible work schedules, fancy furniture, lunch and learns and an annual Halloween party. And I should note, this isn’t your average office Halloween soiree. Jimi and Adam decorate their spaces, host a costume contest and have giveaways. Truly, the company is on to something when it comes to building a healthy and attractive workplace culture.
In early 2018, Momentum found its new office in downtown Utica. The location, just down the street from Jimmy John’s Field, was attractive, modern and walkable. It was exactly what Jimi and Adam were looking for. They moved their employees into the space on April 1 and it has proven to be an asset for the organization. Workers feel positive and happy coming into work and their clients, which include Randazzo Fresh Market, Roura, L&L Products, the Detroit Free Press Marathon and Hitachi, are impressed by the atmosphere. Most importantly however, the space will allow them to become further engaged in the area. Jimi, Adam and Momentum as a whole feel strongly about giving back to the community. Whether that means committing to pro bono projects or speaking to local schools about internet safety, the organization is ready and willing to get involved in Utica. And you could certainly feel that spirit at the official grand opening for Momentum on Thursday, July 19. I attended the open house with several co-workers and was moved by the vibrant and celebratory atmosphere and community-oriented activities. Everyone attending the event was excited about the next chapter for the company, including Momentum’s very first client, the Michigan Head and Neck Institute, who spoke to the crowd about their work with the firm and how they have continued on with them for several years now. Thrilled with the services delivered, they have no intention of taking their business elsewhere. This certainly helps Jimi and Adam work towards the goal they established back in 2010: “Be a recognized, global leader in cutting edge web technology and online marketing.” Now with an expanding team, 200 active clients and over 30 percent growth in 2017, you could certainly say Momentum is well on its way to achieving this objective.
For more information on Momentum, visit their website here.
**Momentum is a client of the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development. Working with MCPED, they have access to services like assistance with marketing, financial analysis and planning, strategic planning, management and operations.
Megan Ochmanek is a communications specialist for the Macomb County Department of Planning and Economic Development.