For Brendan Walsh, KLN '05, "Empowering others to realize their greatness" is more than just a mission statement at Mole Street, the growth marketing agency he co-founded. The ambitious business owner and agency principal draws inspiration from his experiences, including his time learning and growing with others as an undergraduate student at Klein College of Media and Communication. Along the way, he has surrounded himself with a community that shares his vision of fostering a more connected and communicative world.
When Walsh, a Virginia native, transferred to Temple University from another college, he participated in activities such as serving on the then-active communications council, being a tour guide, studying abroad in Antigua, Guatemala and playing club lacrosse. After graduating, he came back to Temple to attend a job fair on campus. There, he landed a marketing position with Siemens Gamesa, one of the largest wind turbine developers in the world.
Walsh, who is also a musician, serendipitously met his business partner Brian LaPann in 2009 by convincing staff at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital — located near Philadelphia's Mole Street, neighboring his home — to let him on the roof deck after hearing live music coming from the hospital from his back porch. It turned out that the talented musicians were LaPann and his band who were playing for patients at the hospital. The two realized that they share a love for music and founded Mole Street agency in 2011 as an experiential marketing and entertainment booking company.
"It was one of those things [where] you go back to what you're passionate about and I had always been passionate about the world of marketing, events and branded experiences," says Walsh.
Although Mole Street became known for its events such as its summer music series "Friday Nights Under the Stars" at The Brandywine Polo Club, clients of Mole Street agency increasingly started asking for digital marketing work, including building microsites for events and coming up with content strategies. Eventually, Mole Street became an entirely digital agency that specializes in helping clients scale their businesses through strategic content, conversion optimization and marketing automation. However, Walsh and LaPann stuck to their roots and developed Mole Street Artists, a separate booking company that provides entertainment for corporate events, weddings, non-profit galas and more.
Through it all, Walsh made sure to create and maintain relationships with fellow Owls. One of his most fulfilling projects was working with BeHeardPhilly, an organization that allows Philadelphia's residents to share their experiences in the city and is headed by Temple's Institute for Survey Research. Heidi Grunwald, managing director of BeHeardPhilly, says that Walsh and Mole Street created an exceptional informational video for the organization and designed and developed the organization's website.
"It's a great firm. I like what they do, they're great at what they do," Grunwald says. "And [Walsh]'s an honorable guy. When he comes across people that he thinks we might be able to partner with he does a mutual contact and vice versa."
Amy Lavin, academic director of the digital innovation in marketing master's program at Temple's Fox Business School, agrees. She first met Walsh at a conference while developing the advisory council for the digital innovation in marketing program. The council helps to shape and guide the program's curriculum and supports the program's students. Lavin thought Walsh was a perfect fit as a member of the council not only because of his "super positive" attitude and commitment to being "community-minded," but also because of his business acumen.
"It's very important — especially for a master's program — to have industry input, to understand the people who are doing it every single day...Because sometimes they see a side of it that you don't read," Lavin says. "You can do a lot of research and you can read a lot but if you don't have that in-house perspective sometimes it gets a little bit lost."
While balancing his commitments, Walsh looks forward to future opportunities for the agency and appreciates its advancement, even during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
"The digital agency, we're just growing like crazy," he says. "Everybody's thinking about their online presence in a different way now, even if you're a traditional business where you got most of your new opportunities through referrals or word of mouth."
But Walsh acknowledges that his success would look very different if he had not attended Klein. "At Klein the focus is always on 'doing' and building practical skills, empowering you to live in line with your values, while at the same time demonstrating how far grit and dogged determination can take you," he says. "I'm so lucky to have had the opportunity to be a student at Temple during that time in my life."