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 July 1, 1999

Service’ lands bigger deals for Mango

BOULDER — Seven short years ago Jason Ascher designed a brochure for friends from college who were starting a fishing-guide service in Alaska.

To do the job, he had to purchase a computer.

To buy the computer, he skipped buying a guitar he had saved $1,500 for and took payment up front from the college friends.

That was the birth of Boulder-based Mango — formerly Mango Graphics — now billed as a graphic design, advertising and marketing firm that features the full spectrum of goods and services from advertising campaigns, multimedia presentations, Web site design, large-format printing and graphic design in all mediums.

Some 200 clients later, Mango is one of Boulder County’s fastest-growing companies. The firm’s revenues were $252,000 in 1997 and $615,000 in 1998.

1999 revenues are projected to reach $800,000 to $1 million.

This and the company started in 1992 as Ascher and a basic Macintosh computer — he didn’t hire his first employee until 1996 and then the crew worked out of his house until about two and a half years ago, when the business moved to Seventh and Pearl streets. Ascher, now 28, knew little about either computers or computer-aided design when he set out to produce the fishing-guide brochure.

“He read all the books and didn’t sleep for months and taught himself,” says Magali Lutz, co-owner in the business.

A former student of architecture at Southern Illinois University, Ascher’s also a self-taught artist. Lutz, 27, studied business at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She runs the business end. (Read: She reels him in. First Ascher thinks a new high-tech tool is cool, then he has to have it.)

Lutz entered the picture as a backer because Ascher and Lutz were from the same Illinois town. That and Lutz could help buy equipment and pay rent with her credit cards.

Today the firm has grown to eight full-time employees and planned to move in late June from 1,500 square feet at Seventh and Pearl streets to 5,600 square feet at Walnut Street and Broadway. As many as five more employees may be added this year.

“I’ve taken a real offensive approach to growth, making sure people are in place,” Ascher said. “And that’s spelled success.”

Natural talent helped, too: Mango recently won an international award from the Point of Purchase Institute for its display for SkyChair hanging canvas chairs.

Mango is the agency behind Boulder Potato Co.’s “Eat This” campaign.

And Hansen Beverage Co. just released in May in Boulder four flavors of its “Signature” line of sodas, for which Mango designed the bottles and labels. The fifth and sixth flavors are in the works.

“A small design house like us traditionally would never get a job like this,” Charlie Bell, marketing director for Mango, said of the Hansen job, which translates into 7 million sodas.

“This was one of our big new breakthroughs,” he said.

What eventually may mean an even bigger deal is the firm’s foray into Web site design and “electronic commerce solutions”such as building Internet “stores” based on budget and technology.

The company has two divisions: design services, such as those for Hansen, and printer services providing in-house technology such as a 60-inch printer that produces photo-quality reproductions (1,200 dots per inch) of up to 100 feet in length.

The printer division, which produces design trade show displays, point-of-purchase displays and short-run signs, gets work from companies such as Celestial Seasonings, Allegro Coffee, Whole Foods, other design firms such as Communication Arts and even Ball Aerospace.

“I think they’re a great start-up service firm that has really been very effective in (meeting the demand) for digital output, large-scale graphics,´ said Richard Foy, a principal in Boulder-based Communication Arts. “We’ve used them extensively. They’re very service-oriented. They’re fantastic to work with.”

Foy said Communication Arts recently was to do a presentation in Brasilia, Brazil and needed an “output” that was about 30-feet long for an airline’s identity campaign.

“We needed it to leave on Sunday,” Foy said. “They worked all weekend, got it ready. We went down there with it. It was a big hit.

“We couldn’t have done it without them, so we think a lot of them. They’re great people — friendly, cooperative, competitively priced and a great asset to the visual arts and marketing communities of Boulder.”

The owners of Boulder Potato were referred to a list of possibilities that included Mango when the Boulder-based maker of potato chips was in the market for new marketing tools such as a sales sheet and trade show booth design, said Mark Maggio, co-owner with his brother.

Two or three days after meeting with Ascher, Boulder Potato was presented with eight different mock-ups that were “very professionally done,” Maggio said. “We were very impressed with what they presented in that meeting.”

Maggio remembers that some time later he noticed Boulder Potato buttons had a couple of very minor printing mistakes just as he was headed out for a weekend trade show in California.

“By Monday they were on doorstep with corrected versions,” Maggio said of Mango.

BOULDER — Seven short years ago Jason Ascher designed a brochure for friends from college who were starting a fishing-guide service in Alaska.

To do the job, he had to purchase a computer.

To buy the computer, he skipped buying a guitar he had saved $1,500 for and took payment up front from the college friends.

That was the birth of Boulder-based Mango — formerly Mango Graphics — now billed as a graphic design, advertising and marketing firm that features the full spectrum of goods and services from…

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