LumenAd Develops Digital Marketing Platform and Grows 2X Each Year from Montana


LumenAd’s Founder and CEO Ryan Hansen has a focused niche in the shifting landscape of digital marketing, and an ideal place to grow his business in Missoula, Montana.

LumenAd’s Ryan Hansen comes from family of serial entrepreneurs in South Dakota, and - in his words- grew up completely unfamiliar with the idea of a traditional 9-5 job. Throughout his childhood, Ryan saw risk taking, hard work, and how it pays off in the end. Not surprisingly, he decided early on that entrepreneurship was his path.

From the first time he arrived in Missoula on a college visit tour, he knew the growing city with a serious business hustle and great access to outdoor recreation was the place he wanted to call home. He graduated from the University of Montana in 2009 with a degree in accounting, and went to work for Montana Community Development (now MoFi ), a Montana/Idaho organization that provides access to capital for economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs. At MoFi, Ryan cut his teeth on financing and understanding the realities of running a small biz.  

The start of LumenAd: Soothing the pain of digital marketing spreadsheets in a single platform.

Following his time at MoFi, Ryan went to work for Missoula-based tech company GCS, where he learned the key business and technical elements of the software development process. The projects he worked on also gave him insight on the world of advertising tech - and an opportunity to see the discrepancy between what’s possible and what most marketers were doing in the digital marketing space. As an entrepreneur, he saw a really big opportunity to solve that problem and democratize access to digital advertising technology.

In 2014, LumenAd started as a digital marketing services company managing complex, multi-channel advertising campaigns for mid-market businesses. At the time, managing placement on social media, tracking digital ad placement, and coordinating client budgets took endless spreadsheet wrangling and wasted precious business development time. Ryan quickly directed his team to begin developing LumenAd’s proprietary technology to streamline the process and make it less complex. In solving their own problem, LumenAd had developed a way of making it easier and more effective to reach people on their desktop, phone, tablet, or Xbox with a coordinated campaign.  They were giving marketers the ability to use a single platform instead of 5-10 systems and an onslaught of spreadsheets to manage data.  

In 2018, LumenAd transitioned from selling managed services to building and managing an operating system to manage complex online campaigns end-to-end.

Growing in three cities with support from the State of Montana

LumenAd now employs 62 people, and continues to grow with offices in Missoula & Bozeman, Montana, and Austin, Texas. Between their Bozeman and Missoula offices they’ve received approximately $300k from the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund. That funding has allowed LumenAd to invest in great employees - and the faster they can hire, the faster they can grow.

Ryan identifies three key advantages for growing LumenAd in Montana:

  1. A common get stuff done personality trait. There’s not a lot of ego, and people are genuinely excited to do cool things and willing to work as a team.
  2. Being able to perform for the long-term requires a solid life-work balance. Missoula makes it easier to do that, and keeps your team engaged mentally and healthy physically.
  3. The cost of living is affordable, especially compared to tech hubs. LumenAd has been able to compete with companies that have raised $50 million in venture capital because they have an overhead structure that allowed them to start working with smaller companies and move upwards.

On the horizon

LumenAd launched their end-to-end digital advertising management platform in January.  The momentum 2 quarters in has been overwhelming. Ryan plans to continue the company’s growth trajectory of doubling in size every year.

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