Digital marketing firm starts landing big clients

No. 356.

That’s where Julie Warnecke, who launched Carmel-based Found Search Marketing LLC in 2006, stood in the pecking order among Google Inc. hires.

Warnecke started at the Mountain View, Calif.-based company during its infancy and stayed about five years, or long enough to gain valuable experience to start her Internet marketing firm.

However, Google, now boasting 54,000 employees and a stock price trading above $740 per share—and ultra-hip Silicon Valley—just couldn’t compete with her homespun roots in Shelbyville.

Call it reverse brain drain at its finest.

“It was a great time, but it was a fairly long stream of 12-, 13-, 14-hour days for me,” she recalled. “I was fairly burned out. That’s when I decided to come back to Indiana.”

Warnecke, 35, graduated from Indiana University in 1999 armed with a history degree she pursued after catching the bug from her father, a retired colonel in the Indiana National Guard.

Studying business seemed boring, though it likely would have proven useful had she known that one day she would operate her own company.

FoundSM’s repertoire includes search-engine optimization to help websites rise to the top of Internet searches, as well as search engine advertising and marketing, website development and e-mail marketing.

After a shaky start, FoundSM, as it’s known, is beginning to find its stride. Its client list of about 20 small to medium-size businesses received a boost from the addition of publicly traded ITT Educational Services Inc. in Carmel and fast-growing Mister Quik in Indianapolis, ranked 671st in the latest Inc. 5,000 list.

Brad Huff, president of the Mister Quik home services firm, said FoundSM has helped it gain more customers from its Internet-advertising efforts than it was spending before.

“The knowledge and experience that her team carries is difficult to find at any one company,” he said.

They’ve helped Warnecke double revenue from $500,000 in 2010 to $1 million in 2011, and she’s on pace to conservatively bill $1.75 million this year.

The amount may seem trivial to some in the city’s burgeoning tech community, but Warnecke has come a long way since starting FoundSM as a solo consulting venture.

“There was nothing smooth about it at all,” she said of the transition to operating her own business. “Being good at Internet marketing and running a business are two separate things. It was all kind of a shock to my system.”

FoundSM has a dozen employees and could add five to 10 more within the next year if the company can continue to grow accounts and add clients.

To keep pace, Warnecke is about to vacate her 1,500-square-foot space on North Illinois Street in Carmel in favor of 4,000 square feet at the nearby Fidelity Plaza office park at Meridian and 116th streets.

Warnecke commutes from the Shelbyville home where she grew up and which she shares with her husband, Jason Woempner. He owns a grain-hauling business there and has twins (a boy and girl) from a previous marriage that Warnecke trucks to the International School of Indianapolis before heading to Carmel.

Her decision to settle in sleepy Shelbyville represents quite a contrast from her arrival in Indianapolis. She purchased a condominium sight unseen in the Mill No. 9 building on trendy Mass Ave.

Warnecke’s return in January 2006 followed her five-year run at Google, where she was the fourth person hired within the ubiquitous search engine’s Adwords division, its main source of revenue.

There, she helped customers with ad campaigns and trained loads of new hires. In fall of 2002, Warnecke traveled to France to launch Google’s Adwords office in Paris.

Pretty impressive considering a friend’s chance meeting with a Google exec on a flight to Australia helped her get a foot in the door. Upon her return, the friend insisted that Warnecke send her resume to the man. She was hired about a month later, in November 2001.

The timing couldn’t have been better. During interviewing, the small software firm where she worked ceased operating.

Warnecke ventured to California after spending a year in Dallas at her first job as a project manager for a family friend who sold industrial shelving.

The Indianapolis tech community is glad to have her back.

“We continue to see a lot of that—folks that have gone out to the West Coast and have come back and plied their business here,” said Jim Jay, president and CEO of statewide technology advocacy group TechPoint.

FoundSM is a sponsor of TechPoint’s Innovation Summit Oct. 30 at the Indiana Convention Center.

Getting her company name in front of the public is a first for Warnecke.

“Historically, I haven’t been involved in anything,” she said. “I think I’ve done as good a job as anybody could flying under the radar.”•

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