Ben Kalkman is the rocket man of media
Before founding Rocket Media — one of Phoenix's top Web design firms — Kalkman's entrepreneurial spirit took off during his days at Kansas State University.
"College is where I learned how to be an entrepreneur," Kalkman said. "I had to figure out things on my own when going through school -- how to adjust to classes, how to get homework done, how to adjust to living on my own. That is its own entrepreneurial process."
Soon after graduating with a graphic design and communications arts degree, Kalkman and his wife, Lindsay — a Kansas State University biology graduate — moved to Phoenix. He started Rocket Media in May 2003. In its first 10 years, the Gilbert, Ariz.-based company has grown to 18 employees and more than 300 clients nationwide.
Rocket Media is a Web design and Internet marketing agency. The agency helps clients set goals, such as generating business or selling merchandise online, and then builds the tools to reach these goals long-term, Kalkman said.
"The majority of our clients are not customers for whom we build a website and say 'see you later,'" Kalkman said. "We have a lot of ongoing relationships in which we'll do search marketing, email marketing, social media and content development."
Other organizations have awarded Rocket Media for its success. This year, the agency was recognized as a top website design firm and a top interactive marketing firm in The Phoenix Business Journal's "The List."
As the company grows, Kalkman still maintains an emphasis on philanthropy. Rocket Media employees volunteer at local soup kitchens, visit nursing home residents and sponsor families for the holidays.
Kalkman's entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to start Rocket Media's community outreach program, Give Back. Each year, the agency creates websites free-of-charge to three nonprofit organizations around the nation. The Give Back selection process involves the whole Rocket Media team. The agency accepts nominations nationwide and employees narrow them to 10 semifinalists, which are narrowed to three finalists through a social media voting campaign.
In recent years, the agency has created free websites for organizations such as AZA United, Boys & Girls Club and United Food Bank. Since the Give Back program's inception, Rocket Media has received more than 300 nominations.
"Our whole team is proud of this project," Kalkman said. "It's a way that we give back to share our talents that we've been given with the people who need it."
Ben and Lindsay Kalkman live in Gilbert with their six children.