By Behnam Riahi
Q: How did you start LimeGreen?
A: 12 years ago, I was at the McDonald’s Corporation. My wife and I were getting ready to have our first kid and we just bought our house. I then decided to leave my great job McDonald’s to start my own business . . . basically to make less money, and she said, “Let’s give it two years. If it doesn’t work out, you should take another corporate position.”
With my wife’s support, I partnered with Mike Stratta to start LimeGreen. Initially, we operated from home basement working on video content for Ford Models, Inc. and planning events for the University of Chicago. It was just us, marketing ourselves as this big organization. I pitched the business and Mike worked on sourcing the manpower to complete the assignments. We started alone from scratch. No investors.
What influences evolved LimeGreen Moroch?
I’m from Chicago. When you think of iconic brands, they were created by agencies here. We should brag more about this fact. At LimeGreen Moroch, our objective is to elevate brands that elevate people. That desire was influenced by Tom Burrell, who started his agency in the 70s when there weren’t many people of color in advertisement. He understood that there were so many stories to be told about the multicultural consumer. He understood the buying power that this group possessed. There is a great responsibility that comes with providing multicultural marketing services. I am aware of the responsibility that comes with engaging multicultural consumers from a social responsibility and financial perspective. We take it seriously. We’ve evolved because we only want to partner with companies and brands who appreciate this consumer enough to engage in a meaningful and memorable manner. This allows us to truly lead our client partners.
What are LimeGreen Moroch’s strengths?
We believe in diversity of thought. Imagine 10 people with diverse backgrounds all coming together to solve a business problem or develop a new marketing communications campaign. That’s some serious brain power all focused on one task. Our client partners gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace because of our approach. Our offices reflect a truly multicultural lifestyle. I want you to be who you are, because that’s what makes us authentic. It creates the right environment where people feel like they belong, have value, and their diversity is celebrated. I have all these diverse minds and it’s a special thing to see. “Elevating brands that elevate people,” is our tag. We work on projects that influence lives in a positive way. LimeGreen is about creativity and doing good through mentorship, job opportunities, championing causes, and giving a voice to people who don’t have one. We don’t want to paint over the graffiti.
How has LimeGreen changed you?
I don’t fear failing any more. I believe that everything serves you. A win or a loss. It doesn’t matter. You learn something from each scenario. Like most entrepreneurs, I dealt with depression, not wanting to get out of bed and feeling negative about everything. I was consumed by what we didn’t have—it was all business and I wanted to be more successful. It used to be the end-all-be-all. . . my ideal. We chose the name LimeGreen because the color green represents rebirth and rejuvenation. I often remind myself of this because my ideal changes every day. Now my only constant ideal is to build new relationships and inspire others to reach their fullest potential. I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have and celebrate all the great things that happen throughout my day. There are more great things happening than bad if you look for it.
Behnam Riahi is a student in the graduate PR/AD program at DePaul University. This is the seventh in a series of agency leader profiles.