MIU alumni David Sinton and Jesse Berkowitz form “Quiet Owl,” new digital marketing agency in Fairfield

A new digital marketing agency has emerged in Fairfield, and its founders, MIU alums David Sinton and Jesse Berkowitz ‘03, are actively looking for people to hire. 

The company’s name is Quiet Owl, and its mission is to help “change the short-sighted culture of digital marketing” by adopting a “listen-first” approach. In just two years, Quiet Owl has grown from three employees to twelve and has more than 20 clients.

What do they mean by “listen-first”? 

“Internet Marketing has become a loud, shameless self-promotion,” Sinton says. “How much can you scream ‘BUY NOW!’ Quiet Owl is a platform for listening, not shouting.” 

Nathan Jones ’07, director of marketing operations at Quiet Owl

“If you’re coming into a project with an ego — like, “I know what’s going to work” — then it blocks off the opportunity for learning,” says Nathan Jones, Quiet Owl’s director of marketing operations, who graduated from MIU in 2007 with a BA in Physiology and Health. “But if you come into it with an open mind, then there’s so much more growth potential.”

The agency acts as a bridge between companies and consumers. They use cutting-edge technology to help companies listen to consumers and understand what they really want. Then they use this data to tailor the most effective marketing strategy for their clients to resonate with as many potential consumers as possible. 

Importantly, they want these relationships between their clients and consumers to be long-term and built on trust. “The nature of life is to grow,” Berkowitz says. “We are a growth agency.” 

And they’ve had “explosive growth,” Sinton says. Though it takes more time and a personal touch to cultivate the authentic, enduring relationships they’re after, Sinton cites a Navy Seal slogan to help explain their fast results: “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” In an industry dominated by brashness and algorithms, their gradual, humane, and listening approach has been a “breath of fresh air to clients,” Berkowitz says.

Case studies: Billie Bars, Traditional Medicinals, Overland Sheepskin

Take the case of Billie Bars, a truck bed rack company launched by two friends, Bill and Nate, as a side project in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Bill and Nate asked Quiet Owl to tailor their digital marketing strategy. A self-funded company, they needed to turn a profit fast, and marketing budgets were tight. 

Quiet Owl first helped Bill and Nate determine an efficient ad budget. Then, on a shoe-string budget, Quiet Owl directed Billie Bars on what content to film for their audience and turned the raw footage into long-form video ads on Facebook and Instagram. Paid social media became the biggest growth driver in year one. 

The next step was ramping up Google ads. Here, Quiet Owl proposed an educated but bold and risky strategy: triple the Google budget for six weeks. 

It paid off. The company’s return on ad spend (ROAS) increased 18%, and Google got enough data to optimize their marketing strategy.

The company was growing, and fast. In the first year, they experienced 5x revenue growth, and in their second year, they were operating at 64% greater efficiency. Bill and Nate’s gratitude speaks volumes: “Throughout our journey, Quiet Owl has been the flashlight in the proverbial digital cave, shining light where we need it, and keeping us on path. Love ’em!” 

And Quiet Owl doesn’t hoot for whoever. They choose clients selectively. 

Why? “Every time we’ve compromised our values, we’ve regretted it,” Sinton says.

They’re looking for companies with a long-term vision for what they’re creating and seeking to contribute to society. Many have turned out to be companies that get people outside into nature. They’ve created a team culture of avid hikers, backpackers, surfers, and campers, finding that companies in the outdoor/adventure space have a greater need for their services. “We’re using the screen to get people off screens,” Berkowitz chuckles. 

Breeo, a company that pioneered the first smokeless wood-burning fire pit and seeks to provide the “ultimate campfire experience,” has enjoyed 20x growth since Quiet Owl took charge of their digital marketing. 

Other clients include Sea to Summit, a purveyor of outdoor adventure gear; Santa Barbara Aquatics; JumpSport, a manufacturer of fitness trampolines; Yellow Dog Flyfishing; and Rovr outdoor coolers.

Their most recognizable client is the wildly popular tea company, Traditional Medicinals

In addition to e-commerce brands, Quiet Owl also supports B2B and software companies.

“They assisted us in developing the right tracking and measurements so that we could understand the performance of our ad budget. It has contributed massively to our year-over-year growth in recurring revenue.”

— Barry Kuk, CTO of Netstock

Netstock, one of the B2B software companies that Quiet Owl represented, has seen 400% revenue growth in their years working together. “Before spending our hard-earned money on ads, the Quiet Owl Team took the time to really understand our business,” said CTO Barry Kuk. “They assisted us in developing the right tracking and measurements so that we could understand the performance of our ad budget. This methodology resulted in a tight feedback loop where changes were tested continuously. It has contributed massively to our year-over-year growth in recurring revenue.”

Fairfield’s own Overland Sheepskin Company has been on a nine-year journey with David Sinton, and this relationship laid the groundwork for Quiet Owl’s founding. In fact, its “listen-first” and “test-and-learn” philosophy was forged during this lucrative partnership, which turned a “thriving brick-and-mortar brand into a digital powerhouse.”

The list goes on, and there are too many stories to insert here, but if you are interested, you can find their client list on their website. 

A long history

Sinton and Berkowitz met each other in 8th grade at Maharishi School, after Sinton’s family moved to Fairfield from South Africa. Though they played on the tennis team together, they weren’t all that close, and Berkowitz “never had the remotest thought that [they] would ever work together.” Now they have an “incredible dynamic” and are building a company where people can truly develop their careers even without prior marketing experience. 

“The MIU business program focuses on entrepreneurship, and so all the things they talked about, now I’m finally living it.”

— Jesse Berkowitz

Berkowitz graduated top of his class at MIU, where he majored in business and then did the MBA program. He says the degree prepared him exceptionally well for the challenges of starting a business. “This has been the best chance, eighteen years later, to experience firsthand everything I learned,” Berkowitz says. “The MIU business program focuses on entrepreneurship, and so all the things they talked about, now I’m finally living it.” After all these years, he vividly remembers the lessons he learned on the MIU campus, less than a mile down the street from Quiet Owl’s headquarters. 

“MIU changed my worldview and set me up for success in life,” Sinton says. “I took art classes that taught me how to really look at my surroundings. Physics classes that changed my understanding of how reality works. And long deep meditations and the development of self-awareness that could tie it all together.”

Supportive working environment

“Outer depends on inner,” Sinton says. His personal mission for Quiet Owl — a mission he values far more than making money — is to “facilitate the development and growth of all the individuals who come to work here.” 

“We’ve created an environment that’s very open, trusting, comfortable, and balanced,” Berkowitz says, “a supportive environment, not cutthroat, corporate, or bureaucratic. Work hard by day and then . . . you get to go to the Dome!” 

“Any good job involves a healthy balance of challenge and support,” Jones says. “We strike a good balance here. Our field is quite challenging always changing. You don’t feel bored, you feel a sense of reward, of contributing and providing value, but not so much that you get stressed out.”

Quiet Owl “is definitely unlike other work environments I’ve been in,” Jones adds. “People get along well with each other. We consistently get that feedback, and we’ve been able to maintain that culture.”

Every employee at Quiet Owl plays a significant role in decision making, both in how the company functions and how they want their careers to progress.

Every employee at Quiet Owl plays a significant role in decision making, both in how the company functions and how they want their careers to progress.

For example, everybody at Quiet Owl created three-year plans for themselves this year, outlining what they wanted their individual futures to look like. Sinton and Berkowitz ask their employees, “What are your goals?” and then help them achieve them, whether they want to be a project manager or a tech specialist or a marketing whiz. 

“We value regular team huddles, where we’re very open about what’s going on, the possibilities we’re facing, why we made certain decisions. We’re involving people so that they feel a part of our journey as a company instead of ‘here is your job, do what you’re told,’” Berkowitz says. They also do regular “walk and talks” to ensure they’re having individual conversations with every team member. They get together periodically for dinner after work and take company bike rides.

After a vote with the employees, the company chose to prioritize offering extended paid vacation and holidays, more than is typical — and they actively encourage their employees to use it. 

And though most employees are meditators, Quiet Owl will pay half of the course fee for any employee who wishes to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique. 

Qualifications? What have you got?

What kinds of people is Quiet Owl looking to hire in their quest to expand?

“We hire people with little to no experience in the field, and then we offer whatever training we can in career development, hoping people will stay with us as long they like,” Jones says.

There can be a lot of preconceptions and misunderstandings about what digital marketing is, he says. “But as long as people are committed to their career development, we’re there to support them in that journey. People are often surprised at the skill sets we’re able to put to use, and the field is broad enough that we’re able to find a home for a wide variety of skills.”

Growth mindset

Berkowitz was the salutatorian in MIU’s 2003 graduating class. In his speech, he said his goal was to build businesses in Fairfield that could help support the community in his cherished hometown. 

He views this growing company as a fulfillment of that dream, and he is thrilled to be doing it with David Sinton. “David is a brilliant guy — just a great guy,” Berkowitz says. “He is very giving and knowledgeable.”

They share a vision of growth. “Many agencies top out at our size, between ten and fifteen people, and that’s fine,” Berkowitz says. “But we both want to create something bigger than that, and that often depends on the founders.” 

Sinton agrees. They plan to build the company to between 30 and 50 employees. If this opportunity speaks to you, Fairfield’s Quiet Owl is on the prowl for help!