Press "Enter" to skip to content

Ryan Kutscher, Founder of Circus Maximus, Shares His Journey to the Top

When Ryan Kutscher enrolled in college, he knew the path he wanted to take. He’d go to business school, learn economics and begin his journey in the business world. But as many of us discover in college, we begin to welcome thoughts that haven’t crossed our minds before; interests evolve and perspectives widen. The same was true for Ryan. The undergraduate business school at William & Mary excelled in accounting, and Ryan did not. Midway through the class, he ended up dropping out of the business program and shelving those ambitions.

In 2002, the college accidentally sent Ryan an email inviting him to an advertising class. That was the first time Ryan had heard about the creative side of advertising. It was intriguing, different, and didn’t have that much accounting. He gave it a shot. Although he had never considered a career in advertising before, the experience stimulated his untapped potential in the niche. Fueled by the newfound interest, he made the transition and thus began his journey.

Ryan got his first practical experience in advertising during an internship in Richmond, Virginia at the storied Martin Agency. The experience cemented his desire to pursue advertising as a career. Lured by the balmy temps and opportunity of the Miami Ad School, he headed off to South Beach. Fast forward 18 months, he dropped out of school to take an unpaid internship  at then hot shop Crispin Porter Bogusky. This was the most notorious agency at the time because their approach was disruptive, technology-based, and heavy on attitude. They didn’t base their practice on traditional TV media at all, which was interesting. Ryan worked there for 6 years, climbing through the ranks until he became creative director.

Around 2010, he made another transition. There was a major shift happening around tech, social media was maturing, and opportunities were springing up for both brands and individuals. Ryan was freelancing at the time, working from his couch in NYC and the seed of an idea for an entirely remote agency was planted. He made a career stop at JWT as chief creative officer. There he put his high capacity for creative thinking to work while also getting a real look at how an integrated global agency functioned, and in some cases, didn’t function.

The role was good from a career standpoint, but Ryan didn’t stay long. The industry was going through a shift. Fast moving, fast growing, social-media enabled brands were flourishing. This favored intelligent, ambitious, and smart young people working in agile configurations. They employed new channels like organic, and paid social creative. They exploited disruptive voices, and tools. Ryan exited the company after a year with no other plan but to do his own thing. To build a more modern agency, somehow, some way. That’s when he founded Circus Maximus.

Circus Maximus quickly found its niche. It began working with startups and translating a Fortune 500 experience to ventures that were scaling quickly. These firms needed to think beyond the immediate moment with their advertising and communications strategy. Ryan started helping them change their brand narrative and the content they released to their community.

Circus Maximus’ mission was clear from the beginning: It would help startups operate with a degree of discipline that is more strategic. This would reduce the chaos around PR and media and help them concentrate on trajectory. When they started working with Fortune 500/100 companies, the goal changed to increasing the chaos in a good way and adding value, shaking off antiquated approaches.

Circus Maximus does not work with the traditional advertising agency model that others follow. Theirs is a partnership, with value not hours at its core. “The partnerships are more honest and fruitful,” according to Ryan. They are not a strictly “pay by the hour” model, but they work for the company goals like revenue, customer acquisition, and community growth. Circus Maximus has worked with lots of these small companies over the years and helped them articulate their brand narratives. The company is presently equity partners with Ro Health, Rappore, and others.

As the industry changes, Ryan and his team are committed to changing with it. For now, they are working towards a model that allows them to launch their own clients outside of their partnerships. They are also looking forward to winning more awards for their positive contributions to the industry.