Beware the rogue cowboy

Startup life. Being an entrepreneur. It’s all about taking chances, being resourceful, doing things on the cheap, bingeing on Pro Plus and sticking in all the hours God gives you. The result is that you have tremendous highs and terrible lows.

But some lows you just don’t expect. I came back from a meeting with a large digital agency last week, extremely pleased with the excellent feedback from the advertising campaign they had run with Struq (excuse the plug!). I was just walking the streets of Soho back to our office, a little smile on my face, when my mood was suddenly smashed into shards. As as I walked in the door, Andrew, our tech genius and CTO, proceeded to tell me that the owners of our Soho building had been round to inform us that our landlord had been illegally sub-letting the entire building to all the tenants.

This is bad. Struq has an entire floor. We are totally settled into our fantastic building, which has a huge buzz from all the exciting companies within it.

This building is home to some truly innovative companies and start ups looking to change the world. Great folk like Philip Wilkinson (Founder of Kelkoo) and Cynan Rhodes (explorer and founder of ICN Sport) have now had to move out. We are still in limbo. We still have no idea whether our offices are safe.

I know it’s not the end of the world. Philip and Cynan lost their deposits but they’ve cut their losses and found new offices in Dean Street. However, the whole experience served as a harsh lesson.

Beware the cowboy.

There are cowboys in every industry. As a new player in digital media, we have to contend with the actions of some of our less scrupulous rivals. Some of these guys run online ad campaigns on awful sites (like porn or fighting) just to deliver an ad campaign. But in the end, they damage an advertiser’s brand and give the whole sector a bad name.

We have put in a huge amount of work into developing the next generation of behavioural targeting for advertisers. These cowboys instantly remove the hard work we have put in and cause the loss of clients. But there is also an onus of responsibility on us to keep our clients informed of the goings-on in our sector, and be transparent in the way we do business. If our landlord had been more on top of his game, the cowboys would never have done the dirty and Phillip and Cynan would still be doing their thing on the next floor.

It’s been a blow to lose two entreprenurs but the entrepreneural spirit is still strong in the building. Kieran O’Neil and Seb Hayes of Playfire are still here, as is Will Tew, founder of BSKC and BUKC, Paul Walsh, digital director ofAngels Den and founder of Wubud and Segala, Hermoine way, founder of and Newspepper, and Julian Marshal. the famous fashion photographer. These entrepreneurs all still remain and keep the buzz about the building

But I just wanted to make one point: everyone, in their own small way, should try to make the world a better place. Right a wrong or prevent the end of something good.

But most of all, never, never go the way of the cowboy.

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