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Apr 16
Varrow, other Fast 50s enter Social Madness

Varrow Inc. knows a thing or two about growth. After all, the Greensboro-based IT company has ranked as the Triad’s fastest-growing, privately held company for the past two years after debuting in The Business Journal’s Fast 50 at No. 5 in 2009.

But Fast 50 is based on revenues. Now, the rapidly growing Varrow is trying its hand at building its brand through Social Madness, a national competition from The Business Journal and our parent, American City Business Journals. Presented by Capital One Spark Business (NYSE: COF), Social Madness is a competition that measures the growth of a company’s social media presence as it competes in a dynamic and unpredictable tournament-style challenge.

The bracket-style tournament challenge has companies compete against others of similar size and participants will be ranked based on a scoring algorithm that measures social influence. The algorithm will track votes ontriad.bizjournals.com, LinkedIn connections, Facebook activity and Twitter followers during the challenge period that begins June 1. Social Madness will allow companies in 43 U.S. cities to compete, with local winners squaring off in a national challenge. Three overall champions get the right to designate a $7,500 donation to the charity of their choice.

“It’s new and interesting to create a competition and get our marketing team to think in that manner,” says Jeremiah Cook, Varrow’s chief technical officer and co-founder. “It’s an emergent way to market yourself.”

If Varrow’s revenue growth is any indication, the company already knows something about marketing. Varrow, which offers services ranging from data storage to disaster recovery to cloud computing, has grown from $8.5 million in revenues in 2008 to $31.5 million in 2010, according to figures it shared for our Fast 50 publication. And in that time, employment soared from 20 to more than 50.

But Varrow recognizes that social media has an important role to play in its future, as it has a presence on sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

“I think we already do a decent job,” Cook says. “For us, it’s about content. Is the techology content applicable to these people. Are we giving them ideas that are interesting?”

In other words, Varrow realizes it needs to be strategic.

“Our brand is being thought leaders. We have to do more than throw our name out. It has to be good, relevant content people aren’t seeing elsewhere, and that’s hard to do these days.”

As it embraces Social Madness as one strategy for building its reputation, Varrow isn’t the only Fast 50 company in the mix in the Triad. Market America    , which as its name implies is a marketing behemoth with a global presence, has appeared in Fast 50 seven times, including the past four years. But the company, which had nearly $300 million in revenues in 2010, needs some competition in the large company category. So far, it is lone entrant into that bracket in the Triad’s Social Madness.

Other past Fast 50 honorees now in the mix locally are PIP Printing of Burlington and A Way to Go Travel, both of which are competing in small employer category of 1 to 99 employees. That is, in fact, the most active category in the Triad thus far, with other competitors including John’s Plumbing, Heating & Air, Social Climbers Marketing and Stir Creative Group, all of Greensboro.

Speaking of, it’s time for companies in Winston-Salem and High Point to step up. The only Winston-Salem entrant thus far is Gallins Foods, which will compete in the midsize category of 100 to 499 employees. The only other entrant in that category thus far is Darryl’s Wood Fired Grill, the Greensboro restaurant operated by Marty Kotis’ firm, Kotis Holdings.

Click here to view this story on crn.com

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