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Jack Philbin and Alex Campbell together. New Canaan, Conn,, summer of 1981.

Creating an industry while starting a business

Jack Philbin and Alex Campbell, best friends since kindergarten, launched a mobile marketing technology business back in 1998 before we could even send text messages in the U.S. To say they were early to the mobile game is an understatement. This incredible journey that has spanned almost two decades has led these two entrepreneurs to the forefront of an industry that is now — finally — hitting its stride in the marketing world.

Under their leadership, Vibes has grown into a 150+ employee company, raised a $15 million Series A round, was named No. 92 on Inc. 500 list of fastest growing companies list and has secured several marquee customers.

Vibes Pagers: The start of it all

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Original Vibes headquarters. A one-bedroom Wrigleyville apartment in Chicago.

Back in the late 1990s, Jack and Alex had a vision that one day wireless technology and marketing would intersect. Determined to be at the forefront of this technological shift, they dedicated their lives to building cutting-edge mobile technology.

It was in March 1998 when Jack and Alex started their third business together, which came to be known as Vibes Pagers. Yes, pagers. Since text messaging on mobile phones hadn’t taken off in the U.S. yet, pagers were the ‘go-to’ device for mobile marketing in the late 1990s. With a growing pager business and the vision to use mobile messaging for marketing purposes, Jack and Alex saw further into the mobile future than anyone else.

Building a mobile industry from the ground up

As young entrepreneurs, Jack and Alex knew they had to build relationships with those who had a firm grip on the mobile industry. They started to aggressively pitch their ideas to major U.S. carriers. Their goal: Convince them that consumers would use their mobile phones for more than just making phone calls.

They knocked on a lot of doors. They heard a lot of “not interested.” This didn’t stop them. They were steadfast in their quest to demonstrate the potential market opportunity that mobile presented.

In 2002, Jack and Alex ran a series of tests at sporting events and even sold-out concerts like Britney Spears to show the value of text messaging to major carriers. The following year they completed a 100-city Text-2-Screen tour for Bud Light. These early campaigns were a success and the U.S. carriers started to catch on to this new mobile opportunity. Their dream was starting to become a reality, but this was still only the beginning.

Vibes becomes a fast-growing company in Chicago

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July 2006 cover story on Vibes in the Chicago Tribune.

In 2003, the Vibes business started to take off. They successfully hosted more than 3,000 events with mobile-driven Text-2-Screen and Text-2-Win campaigns.

By 2005, Vibes doubled in size from 30 to 60 mobile experts. They had recruited and developed a team of the smartest mobile experts in the U.S. Within the next couple years, Vibes was listed on Inc. 500 fastest-growing companies in America list.

As mobile marketing started to become a high-demand product, Vibes branched out to offer opportunities for other businesses outside of mobile carriers and the entertainment industry. Soon, retailers and brands jumped on the mobile bandwagon, realizing that mobile technology was the future.

Vibes today: A leader in mobile marketing

Today, the Vibes Chicago office is buzzing. From the bridge glowing with neon lights that welcomes you into the office, to the Razor scooters flying down the hallways — it’s obvious to anyone who visits that this company is very unique and special.

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Jack and Alex in December 2013 talking about the early days of mobile.

Our team of mobile experts keep Alex and Jack’s vision alive. The team continues to develop and execute innovative ways to strengthen mobile marketing. Starting way back in 2011, we pioneered “Mobile Relationship Management,” which outlines how to build and maintain long-lasting customer relationships. A year later in 2012, we launched Wallet Manager, which enables mobile wallet marketing to use Apple Wallet and Android Pay for mobile offers, loyalty cards, event tickets and more.

New innovations continue to emerge. In 2014, we launched Vibes Connect – making our Tier 1 aggregation services available to everyone, the industry’s first and only Mobile Acquisition Calculator and Push notification capabilities to further enhance the power of Catapult.

We continue to be committed to delivering the best mobile marketing solutions on the planet that help brands and retailers launch into the mobile market with confidence.

We love what we do. And we’re not stopping any time soon.