The 2013 Seven Small Jewels: Level 11

Level 11 - Mark Hadland It doesn’t take long to realize that Level 11 is not your typical consulting firm. Even the name—inspired from the 1984 cult film “This is Spinal Tap”—says the firm takes a bit of a unique approach. “Level 11 is definitely one louder than 10 and we operate at 11,” says Mark Hadland, Managing Director and Founder of the firm.

“It represents the value that we provide for our clients. For us, there’s an irreverent tongue-in-cheek sense of humor about it all.”

And in sticking with the Spinal Tap theme, the firm’s quarterly award is a 14-inch cement Stonehenge. “Our brand means great things to us in the marketplace, but we also have a lot of fun with it,” he says.

But its uniqueness is much more than the name, of course. Level 11 operates in a different way, as well. With Level 11, Hadland says he’s trying to create an innovative and inspiring atmosphere that attracts a certain type of consultant. In Level 11′s case, that’s long-time industry professionals with plenty of experience at big tech and big consulting companies who are committed to solving complex business problems.

“We have an exceptionally experienced team; most of our people have 20 to 25 years of experience. That’s one part of the differentiator that we bring to the table,” Hadland says. “We’re here to solve the impossible problems and to get the hard stuff done. I want to do really cool things and the stuff that’s really hard so when we get it done, we can brag about it.”

Hard stuff, of course, often requires out-of-the-box thinking, which is why Hadland aims to provide an atmosphere with out-of-the-box solutions. “We like to challenge and inspire people, and I often ask our consultants to tell me about their perfect job; then I go out and try to make it happen.”

In fact, Hadland says he encourages consultants to go out and acquire whatever tools they may need to get their job done, to make themselves better or to better serve their clients. “If people want or need to buy a new computer, or a tool that’s going to allow them to be creative, or inspires them, by all means, just go out and get it.”

Hadland, who says he’s one of those “geeky” guys that will encode the Fibonacci Sequence into who has to bring snacks for the next meeting, got his start more traditionally—working for Andersen Consulting before co-founding a global gaming management, technology and services company. He launched Level 11 in 2009, and after a slow start, the firm took off in 2012, generating 245 percent growth. He’s forecasting a more modest, but still magnificent, 47 percent revenue increase for 2013.

Over the long haul, Hadland says his goal is to have five anchor clients that can sustain $5 million each, or $25 million in annual revenue. He’ll take another step toward that goal when Level 11 opens a New York office later this year. But why stop there? “My goal is to continue to grow the firm’s size and scope,” he says. “Eventually, I want Level 11 to be a globally recognized brand.”

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