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97 Degrees West’s origin story is one of determination…

It’s 9:30AM on February 6th, 2004 and I’m on a call with my boss… I’m getting laid off while on maternity leave.

I shed a few tears, picked myself up, and started this agency that afternoon. With my daughter in my arms, I cold called every CEO and Marketing VP I knew in the Austin area and had projects lined up that same week.

Fast forward 13 years, and my agency of one is a team made up of thinkers, doers and dreamers. Together, we help SMBs and multimillion-dollar companies solve their branding, marketing, business, and customer support problems to rave reviews, international awards, and positive ROIs.

And we’re still fueled by that same raw determination that was our start. We’re determined to make every client dollar earn more leads and sales than ever before (and to have a little fun together along the way).

Listen to Vera tell her story

Our Philosophy

We define creativity as the art of solving a marketing and business problem. We are an agency which is built around the belief that if you combine creative talent and humanity, you can help companies make their products, services and brands relevant to the life of their customers. We look at technology as a tool and don’t confuse it with an idea.

97 Degrees West At-A-Glance

YEAR FOUNDED:

2004

EMPLOYEES:

10

HEADQUARTERS:

Austin, Texas, United States

KEY RECOGNITION:

Inbound Certified & HubSpot Certified
WBENC Certified
HUB Agency
HubSpot Gold Agency - Partner

OWNERSHIP:

Vera K. Fischer

INDUSTRY FOCUS:

Energy, Finance, Healthcare, Manufacturing & Distribution.

KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

2017 TOP 20 BRAND AGENCIES, Agency Spotter
2017 TOP 20 MARKETING AGENCIES, Agency Spotter

2016 PR NEWS SOCIAL MEDIA AWARDS, Honorable Mention
2016 CUNA AWARDS, Diamond
2016 HERMES CREATIVE AWARDS, Gold
2016 AMERICAN BUSINESS AWARDS, Bronze Stevie
2016 INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS AWARDS, Bronze Stevie
6 x DAVEY AWARDS, Silver since 2012

2 x W3 AWARDS, Silver since 2014
3 x Communicator Awards in 2016

Leadership

Vera K. Fischer

CEO / President

Vera K. Fischer

The visionary of 97 Degrees West for more than fourteen years, Vera has served as the CEO and President since 2004. During Vera’s tenure, the agency has been recognized as a leader in strategy, creative, digital and traditional media. Garnering multiple industry awards in emerging technologies has made Vera a sought-after expert in the field of digital marketing and technology as well as various business/marketing strategies. 

Vera began her advertising career at GSD&M where she worked on accounts: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Houston Rockets, Dollar Rent-A-Car, Pearl Vision, SeaWorld and DoubleTree Hotels. Her next stop was the nationally recognized T3 known as “The Think Tank.” While at T3, Vera spearheaded the Dell Computers launch of the Preferred Accounts Division and lead national projects for the ESL and Enterprise Divisions. Other notable accounts included Quintiles Oncology, Austin Lyric Opera and St. David’s Hospital. 

In 2001, Vera left the agency world to embark on the client side as Director of Marketing for Forgent Networks, the software spin-off of VTEL video conferencing. Vera managed annual multi-million dollar marketing budgets, developed the company's' first digital lead generation programs, managed the inside sales team and consistently delivered high-quality MQLs to the sales team. 

In 2004, after a company wide re-org, Vera was laid off while on maternity leave. Within the day, she founded her agency, 97 Degrees West.

Vera’s weekly podcast entitled, “System Execution”, launched in mid-2016 with notable guests like Ari Weinzweig of Zingermans Deli, author of The Pumpkin Plan, Mike Michalowicz, Financial expert Gary Bizzo, and Healthcare visionary Dr. Alan Pitt, and other business and thought leaders. System Execution was awarded a 2017 Communicator Award in the field of Journalism and News. Vera is honored to be the first woman to host a podcast devoted to systems and processes of successful companies. She is one of the country’s leading authorities on the topic of processes and execution that drive to better business outcomes. 

Vera is a member of the Austin University Area Rotary Club, an adjunct lecturer for the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at Texas State University, a Mentor at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas. Vera is completing her Master’s in Strategic Communications at Texas State University in May 2019.

Kyle Pickens

Strategic Account Director

Kyle Pickens

With over 20 years’ experience in client relations and working with some of the largest corporations like AT&T, Chevrolet/GM, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Kellogg's and AMD; Kyle brings a variety of marketing and advertising knowledge to 97 Degrees West. From developing an Adwords buy with SEO strategy to building integrated multimillion-dollar brand campaigns across different media, Kyle has seen and done it all.

So why did he choose 97 Degrees West as the next step in his career? "First, Vera is awesome to work with if you have the chance. Second, 97 is one of the few agencies I've seen that are actually doing a hybrid model right for modern marketing. The combination of traditional channels and the capability of inbound campaign creation/management through automated/programmatic allows us to provide a truly integrated approach to your awareness and lead gen efforts. This provides for a more effective partnership and the agility to optimize messaging in the marketplace based on performance analysis."

When not trying to figure out communication strategies for our clients he likes to spend time with his wife and son, go on outdoor adventures in their Airstream, check out the occasional music show and quietly laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Clark Bystrom

Design Director

Clark Bystrom

As Design Director, Clark is charged with leading the creative team in transforming challenging subjects into powerful and easy-to-understand concepts. From consultation to finished product, he works tirelessly to invent new ways to communicate a client's message, and achieves exceptional results for a wide variety of clients.

Over the course of 20 years, Clark has created innovative brands with big and small agencies alike—from the Fortune 500 brands of AT&T, D.R. Horton, and Symantec, to design studios working with BMW, car2go, Cerilliant, Dell, Endeavor, to leading global brands as Sr. UX Designer for DIRECTV. In his years as Designer, Art Director and Design Director he has overseen integrated advertising campaigns across emerging channels, interactive design, TV, and print as well leading rebranding and design efforts for large-scale, corporate brands. In working directly with clients, Clark developed strong relationships to deliver strategic and emotionally-resonant creative that also successfully achieves business goals. 

Clark is that unique creative talent who has mastered the ability to excite the left brain, impassion the right brain and control them both simultaneously, inspiring confidence in clients and staff alike.

When not at work, Clark spends time with his gorgeous wife Maureen, his two daughters Madeline and Meredith, usually enjoying an outdoor adventure. You can find him volunteering as Game Day Administrator for high school ladies lacrosse, and Starter for the Capital City Summer League.

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