Role and company:Founder – adconnection, Fetch
Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):Combined 2013 turnover £50m
Employee numbers:adconnection: 35, Fetch: 45
Growth forecast for the next three years:I have ambitious growth plans for both my companies over the next three years. With a successfully established management team in both companies, I anticipate adconnection to be a leading independent media agency, and Fetch to increase their global footprint significantly.
In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace?A business is only as good as its people. If you’ve got the best people then you’ve got the best product. Both adconnection and Fetch only recruit those with a proven track record of experience and expertise, meaning we can guarantee our clients the best-in-class marketing services.
What’s the big vision for your business?Independent agencies are becoming a rarity in a commoditised agency world. My vision is for adconnection to retain its independence and become the largest media agency in this sector in the next few years. Data and Technology is an area that I believe will grow exponentially over the next three years, and I see adconnection as a leading ambassador in this field. Fetch already operates internationally, with offices in London and San Francisco. My vision for Fetch is to increase its global footprint to Berlin within the next few years.
Current level of international business, and future aspirations?Adconnection currently account for ten per cent of their media purchasing internationally. My aspiration for adconnection is offer a broader international solution to global clients and therefore anticipate an increase to 30 per cent in the next couple of years. Fetch on the other hand – due to the sophistication and global footprint for mobile – will increase their billings by half again in the future.
Biggest career setback and what you learned from it?We work in an industry that is based on ‘relationships and intelligence’. As a ‘people business’, recruiting the right people who have a mixture of commercial, personal and entrepreneurial capabilities, is always a challenge. There was one occasion when I took on a high level person who ticked all the boxes in terms of these capabilities, but my gut instinct said not to take on this person, and I ended up having to let them go.
What makes you mad in business today?Very competent people making simple mistakes. Everybody makes errors – it’s human nature – but it’s particularly frustrating to witness are error that could’ve been easily avoided with a little bit of common sense.
What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?Technology will – and already is to a great extent – lead the advertising process. Media planning/buying will become much more programmatic and data-driven, with sophisticated technology making it a more efficient process. This doesn’t mean that machines will take over entirely of course. Data overlaid with human insight is what makes a truly brilliant campaign, and this will be the case no matter how technology develops. We will always require that creativity and imagination that computers just can’t deliver.
Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?We have no experience in this as we have never had a need. I do appreciate that it’s difficult to get banks to lend and invest in businesses at the moment, given that banks are so adverse to risk. Cash flow is always the biggest hurdle for a new business to overcome, and banks/investors need to understand this better, be more accommodating, and give better lending terms. New entrants to the market can’t get credit insurance, meaning better payment terms need to be made available from suppliers.
How would others describe your leadership style?On a day-to-day basis I prefer to let people work autonomously and maintain a less authoritative presence. If the need arises, I’m always ready to jump in with input and ideas and take the reins.
Your biggest personal extravagance?Going on holiday. You have to reward yourself for all the hard work and commitment it takes to run two media agencies. A relaxing holiday with family and friends is my way of winding down and reinvigorating, and reminds me that the long hours are worth it.
You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper…Cut red tape to allow businesses – particularly start-ups – better access to finance and government support schemes. Entrepreneurship should be rewarded, but the current corporate tax laws and small business loan restrictions make it very difficult for companies to invest and grow. Government incentives for lending to business owners, such as shouldering some of the risk, will make the UK a more appealing destination for entrepreneurs. It is essential to promote tech hubs like Shoreditch, where the new Fetch offices have just opened, to encourage venture capital and investment.
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