1. Please introduce yourself?
I’m the founder of TopLine Comms, a business blogger, dog-and-internet-lover, fake football fan - and at the moment I’m planning to cycle across Mongolia.
2. What is TopLine Comms?
TopLine Comms is a digital comms agency: we work with exciting tech companies to help them be seen, be heard and be noticed. We make them famous and we make their videos. We love working with them and we love helping them grow.
3. How have you funded TopLine Comms so far?
I started off by securing investment from a former boss and his best friend. After two years, TopLine was doing well enough that I could afford to buy them out with the profits of the company. The business has been profitable since then so it has funded itself and my black cab habit.
4. How did you secure your first client?
Our first three clients were all companies I had worked with before. They were willing to take a risk on me and I am eternally grateful. When TopLine launched back in 2008 we were at the height of the recession and not many people had PR budgets: we were very lucky to get the clients we did.
5. Being a young entrepreneur – what do you enjoy the most about running your own business?
The freedom to do whatever I want. I know that I can take the business in whichever direction I want, and I also know that it’s okay to fail sometimes when trying out new ideas. Most importantly, I can bring my dog into work!
6. What is the most exciting business decision you’ve made so far?
We completely changed our strategy 18 months ago. TopLine went from being a traditional PR agency to an integrated comms agency pretty much overnight. This really set us apart from our competitors, and this meant we could be more creative in our work. Our transition has really paid off: we have grown massively since then. We’ve also had to the chance to work with interesting clients on exciting opportunities.
7. What is the worst?
Giving away more than half of the business to my initial investors – what an idiot! I really had to fight to get it back.
9. Think back to when you’d just started out – what do you know now that you wish you’d known then?
Everything! I was so naïve. I guess I wish I had joined EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organisation) sooner. I also wish I had known not to hire people just because they had worked on relevant clients at other agencies. It’s no guarantee of ability.
10. What feedback did you receive when you first launched TopLine Comms onto the market?
Most people thought we were crazy - 2008 was a terrible time to launch a PR agency. Fortunately, our clients thought otherwise, and theirs was the feedback that mattered.
11. What do you do for fun?
Play with my dog, travel the world, attempt ballet, read, ski, take photos, cycle, write my blog.
12. What advice would you give to young budding entrepreneurs?
You need to learn to ask everyone for feedback all the time. This sounds easy, but learning to take ‘constructive criticism’ is a lot tougher than it sounds. It’s also important not to lose perspective when you come up against yet another business problem. It’s just a business. If it all goes horribly wrong, no one will die.
13. What plans do you have for TopLine Comms?
I want it to become the best, most renowned digital comms consultancy in London. And then grow some more...