Michael Lebowitz, founder and CEO, Big Spaceship

Michael Lebowitz, founder and CEO of the digital marketing firm Big Spaceship (Photo courtesy of Big Spaceship)

Digital marketing as a minor-league business? Hard to imagine it now, but in 2000, when Michael Lebowitz started his ad-and-marketing agency Big Spaceship, the name of the company was genuinely ironic. “Digital then was a silo, and a pretty small one. We were fighting for crumbs off of the table,” Lebowitz tells us in our podcast interview. That is no longer the case. Seventeen years later, after winning numerous campaigns and growing to 100 employees, Big Spaceship has arrived. Clients have included JetBlue, Samsung and YouTube. Lebowitz prefers to think of his company as “a modern agency” because, as he puts it, “at this point we don’t have a digital life and a real world life, we just have our lives.”

An early trailblazer of Brooklyn’s Dumbo district, Big Spaceship has watched from the front row as the neighborhood has blossomed into a destination for creative, tech and media startups. “Brooklyn has become such a ‘thing’ writ large. When we moved to Dumbo it was undiscovered and pretty run down, and now you can’t throw a rock and not hit a digital business or even just an agency, traditional or otherwise. I’m very proud of being a Brooklyn business.”

While the work has evolved over the years, Lebowitz says he has always tried to create a workplace that was about more than just a job, where people could come to collaborate and be themselves, a “company that is a canvas for the people.” Scaling this philosophy to booming, changing industry has had its challenges, he acknowledges, but to this day it remains central to Big Spaceship’s DNA. –By Kim Thornton