Empowering Business Through a Culture of Continual Growth
At Block Club, we recognize that ideas are the root of every great business. And our experience has shown us that, when fostered, the right idea can be an investment in future growth.
That’s why we started Block Club Labs, an in-house ideas incubator designed to foster, bring to life, and make profitable (when appropriate) the various and spontaneous designs, brainchildren, and imaginings of our award-winning team. Over the years, we’ve incubated a handful of ventures, culminating in the successful launch of Oxford Pennant.
This focus on investing in ideas contributes to more than just our own success; it directly impacts the work we do. For starters, a culture that nurtures entrepreneurial ideas encourages a more holistic way of thinking—one that looks past immediate projects and taps into different sources of inspiration. More importantly, as entrepreneurs ourselves, we have the firsthand experience and hands-on perspective needed to help our clients navigate the business challenges they face.
The History of Block Club Labs
When we got our start back in 2007, we weren’t an agency but a magazine. Block Club was a free, bimonthly lifestyle publication that showcased Buffalo’s vibrant communities and independent businesses.
But having found our voice, we realized that what we were really passionate about was helping businesses find theirs. And so, Block Club the agency was born.
Still, we never lost our entrepreneurial spirit.
As an ideas incubator, Block Club Labs gives us the freedom to try new things and to build new solutions for ourselves and our clients. Every idea presents an opportunity to learn—to challenge how we think about business and apply it to the problems our clients face.
Sometimes these ideas become a core part of Block Club, like our Residency Program. Other times, they grow into businesses of their own.
Intrapreneurship and Oxford Pennant
This was the case with past Block Club Labs ventures such as Loupe and IfThen. Formerly known as City Dining Cards, Loupe exemplifies how our working relationships can serve as catalysts for experimentation and mutual benefit. Following that up, IfThen sought to take on millennial fundraising, tossing Block Club Labs’ hat into the nonprofit arena.
Both of these businesses grew from the foundation laid out by Block Club Labs—a foundation that blurs the line between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship. Nowhere is this made clearer than in the relationship between Block Club and Oxford Pennant.
Started by Block Club partner Dave Horesh and his friend turned business partner, Brett Mikoll, the custom pennant company is the most successful endeavor to come out of Block Club Labs.
Oxford Pennant was founded with the vision of bringing prestige and quality back to a traditional American keepsake. The pennants, camp flags, and banners it produces, sometimes in collaboration with major brands like J. Crew, Wilco, the Buffalo Bills, and Harley Davidson, are designed and manufactured in house in Buffalo, New York, with much of the design, marketing, and administrative work done in a shared space with Block Club itself.
And while Block Club is a minority shareholder in Oxford Pennant, the real benefit comes from sharing leadership and working in such close proximity.
Leading With Experience
Operating side by side, our two companies share ideas, energy, and inspiration. These elements permeate every facet of the business, being passed down to our teammates and, ultimately, to our clients.
This dynamism is what makes Block Club Labs more than just an incubator. Each project brings with it a set of unique challenges that forces us to become better thinkers, better doers, and better makers. Each project leaves us more knowledgeable of the challenges faced by our clients and more capable of understanding what they’re going through.
And the better we understand our clients, the better we can serve them.