Top Marketers Are Turning Their Side Projects Into Legitimate Businesses

At the height of the Covid pandemic in December 2020, marketing executive Katie Klumper called former colleague Vikram Tank with a request that had nothing to do with her day job: Would he team up with her to start a business selling condiments.

The executives, who met years earlier while working at an advertising agency and had since developed a shared passion for food, settled on hot sauce as a promising way to enter the market. Ms. Klumper and Mr. Tank over the next 18 months developed Smaak, a food startup whose debut line of hot sauces went on sale online and at some U.S. retailers in July.

They also kept their demanding full-time jobs. Ms. Klumper has been CEO of Black Glass, an Interpublic Group of Cos. consulting firm that advises chief marketing officers, since early 2020, and in late 2021 Mr. Tank moved from a product-manager role at

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