Boldsquare acquires Bandera; Jonathan Sexton joins the group

A number of people have asked us, “What’s Jonathan Sexton doing these days?” The questions came after he left the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) and his role as Chief Operating Officer a few months ago.

We thought we knew the answer. After all, he was part of a band and had several other entrepreneurial ventures over the years that we chronicled in this two-part series from 2013 (Part 1 and Part 2). Two of those – Artist Growth, founded in 2011 and Bandposters, launched in 2013 – were described in the second article. A third – Bandera Creative – was launched a little more than a year ago.

In an emailed news release on Friday, Sexton announced that the newest firm, which he described as a corporate innovation and creative agency, is being acquired by The Boldsquare Group, one of the Southeast’s leading strategy and communications practices. Bandera will become a wholly-owned division of Boldsquare with Sexton serving as both Managing Director of the subsidiary and a member of the senior management team at Boldsquare.

“Bandera’s expertise in growth strategy, marketing, creative organizational design and technology will be used to the benefit of new and existing Bandera clients as well as the full suite of Boldsquare’s roster,” he explained. “In its short history, Bandera has established itself as a truly new kind of creative agency. Our cross-functional nature and mentality has allowed us to focus on finding the right mix of design technology, business intelligence, and innovation needed to meet our clients’ most pressing issues.”

We spotlighted Boldsquare and Dylan Jones, one of its Founders, a little more than a year ago in this article where he described the new firm this way: “We’re not a public relations firm, although we do use PR as a tactic from time to time. We’re driven instead by a problem-solving ethic, helping businesses solve complex issues with engaging employees, aligning a board of directors, or creating a solid go-to-market strategy. We focus on things that stop CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) from sleeping at night.”

In the news release announcing the acquisition, Jones says, “A rapidly growing company like Bandera is a natural fit with Boldsquare, enabling the combined businesses to provide deeper technology and innovation expertise, creative production and strategic implementation capability, bolstering our management consultancy, strategic communications and business intelligence work for C-suite leaders across the United States and Europe.”

Sexton was at KEC for about six years, working alongside KEC Executive Director Jim Biggs. During his tenure, the KEC team successfully supported thousands of entrepreneurs that Sexton says resulted in more than $100 million in raised investment capital, numerous start-up exits, and multiple successful corporate innovation initiatives. One of those was the first media and technology accelerator program in the Southeast, launched in partnership with Scripps Networks Interactive. The latter was subsequently acquired by Discovery.

According to Sexton, Bandera’s client roster spans a wide variety of industries including traditional and online media, high growth technology companies, and enterprises in the pharmaceutical, healthcare, real estate, and transportation sectors. The work for clients in Tennessee and beyond covers areas like brand development, new customer acquisition, audience engagement and retention, on and offline growth strategy, website design, marketing and advertising campaigns, market and consumer intelligence, social media and various experiential implementations of emerging technology, and modern digital marketing practices.

Client relationships for Boldsquare include engagements across the U.S., as well as in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada. Collectively, the group’s clients account for $125 billion in annual revenues and employ more than 150,000 people.

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