Steve Jbara is the CEO of Atomic Honey, a Detroit-based advertising and branding agency that works with established and emerging brands throughout the U.S. Atomic Honey offers digital and traditional advertising services including branding, social media, strategy, production, media and venture partnerships.
Founded in 2019, Atomic Honey offers select startups a services-for-equity engagement model. This approach provides our startup partners with branding and engagement strategies to better position these new companies for growth.
Since its formation, Atomic Honey has partnered with 25 brands across the country, providing advertising and marketing services to its growing client base. The agency has quickly adapted to changing realities, finding solid footing by developing highly effective, tailored advertising and marketing solutions for its clients.
This includes equity-based work performed for URBANEER, an innovative housing company based in California and Michigan. URBANEER designs and builds accessory dwelling units (ADU), typically pre-fab structures placed alongside a primary residence.
In a market beleaguered by quality concerns, URBANEER has received national attention for its unique approach to luxurious design, quality construction and distribution. Each URBANEER ADU offers patented features that increase available living space within a smaller footprint.
As the pandemic caused massive shifts and needs in the housing market, Atomic Honey helped URBANEER pivot to meet the changes. Using cost effective digital and social media strategies, Atomic Honey guided URBANEER through a branding reframe, leading to growth and momentum throughout key markets.
In much the same way, Atomic Honey partnered with emerging food brand Dave’s Sweet Tooth. Dave’s Sweet Tooth is a family-owned confectioner that makes gourmet small batch toffee, which is sold at retailers across the country and online.
Though a relatively young brand, Dave’s Sweet Tooth has seen incredible growth in just a few years, fostered by a dedicated and engaged customer base and supported by aggressive marketing tactics.
Upon teaming with Atomic Honey, the partners developed smart, targeted digital and social strategies that continue to drive consumer engagement and activation, with month-over-month sales showing steady growth.
Atomic Honey has advertising and branding clients in several categories including consumer packaged goods, food, alcohol/beer/spirits, cannabis and cyber security. Agency clients include vertically integrated cannabis brands RAIR and Undrafted, world renowned food truck Detroit 75, ice cream brand Guernsey Farms Dairy, Old Nation Brewing and Green Door Distilling.
Steve Jbara is also the founder and president of the Grand Rapids Gold (formerly the Drive), the Denver Nuggets’ affiliate in the NBA G-League (formerly the Development League). Additionally he serves as Chief Strategy Officer of WaitTime, a startup based in the Motor City that has developed artificial intelligence software capable of providing real-time insights into crowd behavior at sporting events.
Finally, Steve Jbara is the Chief Strategy Officer and a board member for Air Company, a CO2 technology firm based in Brooklyn and known for producing carbon-negative fuel and alcohol based products. That is done by capturing and converting the carbon dioxide involved in the manufacturing process of such alcohol and using it to produce other products, including the glucose NASA is developing as a food source in space.
His entrepreneurial journey began in 2013, three years after his graduation from Trine University in Angola, Ind. That’s when Steve Jbara bought a Development League team that had been based in Springfield, Mass., and moved it to Grand Rapids. It began play the following year as an affiliate of the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and immediately turned a profit, something never before seen in the soon-to-be-rechristened G-League.
On his watch, the team also vaulted to No. 1 in the league in merchandise sales while hovering in the top five in sponsorship revenue and gate receipts.
In 2021 the team entered into a hybrid arrangement with the Nuggets, with the parent club taking charge of basketball operations and Steve Jbara and his team of investors – an LLC known as the SSJ Group – continuing to oversee business operations and community engagement.
Jbara’s foray into basketball served as a springboard for other business ventures. He started and sold two startups, one in the CO2 recycling space and focused on microbreweries, the other a tech startup focused on peer-influenced shopping. The latter was acquired by Amazon.
Steve Jbara, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., earned degrees in marketing and computer science from Trine University in 2010. He spent the next four years working for the Ford Motor Company and R.L. Polk in Detroit. The latter provides insights and data to the automotive industry.
Steve Jbara currently sits on the Detroit Sports Commission, the Gilmore Car Museum Board, Double-Down Development Board, the NBA’s Team Leadership Committee, The G League’s NBA Broadcast Committee, Endeavor Detroit BOD, Leaders for Kids Board of Directors, Green Door Distillery BOD, Yote BOD. He is a board member at the Special Olympics of MI and Brilliant Detroit.
A licensed helicopter pilot, Steve Jbara uses his aircraft to travel between his various enterprises.