Thomas Nicholson follows his passion and his own path to success“Successful entrepreneurship is less about invention and more about finding a new market niche and owning it.” Tom Nicholson ’77
Before Nicholson found his niche, he found a supportive professor at University of Detroit who enabled him to invent his own program of study in the College of Arts and Sciences. Nicholson proudly traces his roots back to the University where his knack for innovation blossomed, and he developed the confidence to follow his passion upon graduating.
One of the first to recognize the promise of digital media in the early 1980s, Nicholson decided to take a leap of faith and form his own company. Leaving behind a solid job, Nicholson moved with his wife—who was pregnant with twins—to establish the first digital agency in New York City. Early projects included groundbreaking ATM designs for Citibank, interactive exhibits for museums and corporate clients, and CD-ROM publishing. With the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, Nicholson’s firm pioneered the Web as a marketing vehicle for clients such as IBM, Microsoft, News Corp and NBC.
In 2000, Nicholson sold his company to publicly traded LBi International, a leading global agency based in Europe. Nicholson’s firm, now called IconNicholson, has over 130 professionals, and enjoys continual growth with its founder at the helm staying true to his vision.
“Marketing today is about empowering the customer,” says Nicholson, who believes that the most successful businesses today know how to use digital channels effectively to engage customers. “If your products and service are really good, customers will spread the word for you.” says Nicholson.
Most recently, the firm’s ground-breaking work for renowned fashion designer Nanette Lepore has been touted as the “future of retail” and received recognition from TIME Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2007 alongside other innovations such as the iPhone.
The concept, which is called Social Retailing®, helps Lepore connect with the youth market by offering an in-store shopping experience like no other. A paneled interactive mirror beams the shopper’s image to her network of friends on social sites such as Facebook or MySpace; the friends reply directly to the mirror with their opinions and suggestions. Piloted at the Bloomingdale’s flagship store in Manhattan, Social Retailing® generated a flurry of media attention worldwide and a dramatic increase in sales for Nanette Lepore.
With a legacy of innovation spanning over 20 years, IconNicholson today is a premier digital agency, and Nicholson has become one of the most sought-after leaders in the interactive industry.