This Brand Storytelling Cover Feature Originally Appeared in Exeleon Magazine.
Since humans have set foot in the world, stories have existed. We are all connected through beautiful, immersive, and emotional snippets of each other. Stories help us guide and remember many attributes as they weave a cozy, warm nest to bond with different people from various walks of life.
There is one name that echoes loud and clear in the world of brand storytelling. With over 30 years of experience, it is the pioneering founder and Chief Executive Officer of [INVNT GROUP]®, Scott Cullather.
In 2008, on the heels of a historic financial crisis, Scott and his enterprising business partner and wife, Kristina McCoobery co-founded INVNT® the global live brand storytelling agency; instantly challenging the core industry model, creating a storytelling agency that disrupted the traditional approach to brand events.
In 2020, after buying back the agency he sold to Time Inc., Scott founded [INVNT GROUP], THE GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT with a vision to provide creative, globally impactful, BrandStory across all platforms. The expansion creates an infinity loop of services, possibilities, and results – all under the group’s umbrella. [INVNT GROUP] consists of modern brand strategy firm, Folk Hero; creative-led culture consultancy, Meaning; branded content studio and content marketing agency, HEVĒ; collegiate events and experiences, INVNT Higher Education, and INVNT, the founding, live brand storytelling agency.
Kristina McCoobery leads INVNT into the future as Chief Executive Officer, with a dual role as Chief Operating Officer of [INVNT GROUP].
In evolving THE GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT, Scott has founded other innovative companies like bzar —a new paradigm metaverse for shareable, fun, and exciting shopping experiences. Alongside Kristina, he is also the co-author of ForbesBooks’ Challenge Everything: The Battle Cry That Blew Sh*t Up and INVNTd Live Brand Storytelling.
Incidentally, Scott has been featured in Entrepreneur, AdWeek, Campaign, AdAge, The Drum, The International Business Times and more. He regularly shares his future-forward insights through speaking engagements at various industry and non-industry events such as Event Marketer’s Event Tech, the C&IT US Forum, Event Tech Live, MACE, PMPI, ASAE Springtime, and the Event Design Summit.
ROOTS OF RELENTLESS AMBITION
Hustle and spirit are two words that define Scott’s early days as a child. It was his dad, Dan Cullather – a trailblazer in the live events industry – who induced his curiosity for entrepreneurship. Besides this, Scott was quite the explorer. At the age of 14, he arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with his lawn mowing business.
After not much success in this venture, he did what every true entrepreneur does and expanded moving on to his next escapade — mowing lawns + painting houses. Although he met with a setback again, he succeeded one big way: through his grit to experiment and discover his calling.
As a transformational leader, Scott Cullather believes in the power of humanity. His unique leadership style focuses on leading with empathy, vision, commitment to innovation & growth while creating an ideal setting for his team to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. “Hold the post at the top of the pyramid and exist like you’re at the bottom of the pyramid,” he says while proclaiming himself as a dedicated servant leader.
Invariably, he is enthusiastic about creating a culture where people understand each other deeply and thoroughly. Scott believes in “looking down while simultaneously looking out.” This will, ultimately, create significant progress as he also feels that “business is about more than business — it’s about people.”
CHALLENGE EVERYTHING & STORYTELLING
The core ethos of INVNT makes it one of the best live brand storytelling agencies in the world. It is guided by a simple philosophy: challenge everything.
Scott drew inspiration for the names of his companies from an awakening of possibilities. He wanted to name them after what he truly stood for — inventing creative strategy and brand stories. There was no two ways about it when his friend and brand strategist Matti Leshem emailed him with the word ‘INVNT’ in the subject line, hence sealing the deal for Scott and Kristina to get started on their journey.
INVNT’s operations are the heartbeat of its rapid growth and progress. Scott aims to keep it operationally sound by setting precise vertical and horizontal growth strategies. The vertical strategy consists of working with all the different business units across [INVNT GROUP], while the horizontal strategy focuses on placing these units globally and across various projects.
One of Scott’s core principles is “we believe in doing good work and work that does good, in all our philanthropic efforts.” His philanthropic passions and service are a cornerstone of the way [INVNT GROUP] supports national causes and history-making campaigns. On June 17th, 2021, a partnership with Ms. Opal Lee, led to a historic legislation of Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday in the United States. Scott is also actively committed to charitable organizations like the Chris Carrino Foundation for FSHD and First Responders Children’s Foundation.
He does not falter from taking strategic risks on behalf of his clients. “It will always be on brand, on point, on message but also disruptive,” he echoes. He believes that his company’s repute at being the expert ambassador for a global brand is everything that he had aimed for. This is a result of executing authentically on the ground level with dedicated teams that are locally and culturally embedded with each other.
One of the biggest things Scott ensures is to make his team feel welcomed and valued, especially during times of uncertainty. He holds a strong belief in the fact that modern leaders need to understand and value their team members for their trust and commitment.
RUBBING SHOULDERS WITH GIANTS
Live marketing has taken several industries by storm in recent years. With Gen-Z and Millennials making up more than 50% of the population, Scott believes that these are the groups that are looking for “experiences that are shareable.”
Moreover, the number one reason that makes live marketing potent is the continuous surge in brands and their need for live interaction with communities. With [INVNT GROUP], the transformational leader aims to weave more magic and fondness with his people. “We want to further inspire their journey with one-of-a-kind moments and create genuine brand love,” he adds.
Consequently, Scott is on a journey to create a whole new world of inclusivity and rare experiences. He feels that fostering community is the key to long-lasting meaningful relationships. A one-to-one connection is imperative to knit trust, bonding, and respect. And when this is done with different kinds of people repeatedly, a big warm community is formed. “Events aren’t campaign extensions anymore, they’re immersive, connective experiences,” Scott confirms.
Scott Cullather believes, as we are all human, that our actions are guided by our positions and our circumstances. Looking back, he thinks that he would have lowered expectations of himself and people around him methodically, throughout his arduous journey. But it is these set of decisions that spurred into path-breaking initiatives like bzar, INVNT, [INVNT GROUP], and many other upcoming innovations.
THE RADIANT FUTURE & BRAND STORYTELLING
For Scott Cullather, the biggest learnings have been the lessons that life taught him in the most unexpected ways. But this does not deter him from storytelling and dreaming bravely. Scott and [INVNT GROUP] are invested in taking the “experience economy” to unprecedented heights. The enterprise is committed to leveraging technology in dynamic new ways, bringing world-class experiences to live and virtual audiences, globally.
Concurrently, Scott is on his way to making his other innovations a roaring success. He envisioned one of his passion projects, bzar, almost two years ago, to disrupt the traditional ways of connecting with each other. Launching in 2021, bzar is a patent pending, global, immersive, and virtual community that connects brands, consumers, experiences, content, and creators through gamification in the metaverse. It holds no limitations to creativity, love, inclusivity, fun; without equal in the e-comm and gaming space, bzar, is a consequence of Scott’s GLOBAL BRANDSTORY PROJECT. Set to launch this November, with a select group of founding brands that will debut their brand worlds in bzar.
Another priority is to expand the global capabilities of [INVNT GROUP] by offering an integrated production services division – owning end-to-end control over quality and cost, while delivering world-class service and unmatched value. “We are creating the future of the ultimate BrandStory experiences, regardless of the platform,” Scott adds.
Wisdom is a result of eons of hard work, luck, and perseverance. Scott’s success is a beautiful composition of unpleasant setbacks, inconvenient failures, and lifelong lessons.
Leaping ahead with over 3 decades of experience, Scott’s advice for aspiring and emerging leaders in any industry, is simple yet significant. Firstly, he says, “it’s going to be twice as hard as you think it’s going to be and it’s going to take twice as long as you think it’s going to take.”
He also suggests to “always plan to compete.” According to him, even if you are restricted by a contract, you can still plan to win. The key lies in being your “own exit strategy.”
Victory of this scale comes from more than one man’s labor. It is the collective spirit and collaboration that brings out the best execution of a simple idea. Scott believes in constructing your dream team as these are the people that will be your natural springboard during tumultuous times. Moreover, it is important to not underestimate the legal side of business. “Cover all your legal bases,” Scott recommends.
During times where you feel you are a huge misfit in a prospering environment, he suggests “to resign”, realign your happiness and get “the hell outta Dodge.” He also advises to strike out on your own or mindfully regroup with like-minded people. Moreover, Scott urges one to invest and protect their intellectual property. He is a huge advocate of “don’t just make great work —own it!”
Talking about roadblocks and learnings through his journey, Scott aptly echoes a philosophy that both he and Kristina live and lead by: “the moment of absolute certainty will never come, so don’t wait for it. If you do – it’s too late.”