As we recently passed three years since the digital-first powerhouse Media.Monks welcomed our Brightblue Consulting team into their global home, there’s no better time than the present to reflect on how we got to where we are today.
From founding a specialist marketing evaluation and modeling agency to co-founding the Measure.Monks—our data-driven team that builds marketing effectiveness models to help brands deliver more profit—my professional journey can be divided into four milestones: starting, scaling, merging and integrating a business. In this piece, I aim to share my experience (instead of unsolicited advice) with the hope that established and aspiring founders can draw inspiration from it.
Starting a business
Looking back, this might have actually been the hardest part of it all. Let’s just say it takes a pretty large leap of faith to go from the comfort of having a salary and holidays to being completely responsible and accountable for your income. People’s common perspective is that you can work when and how you like, but my reality looked quite different. No, I didn’t have a direct boss—but I did have to constantly be on hand for clients to get the business off the ground. In my mind, any day off was a day lost in growth.
Those early days were testing times, but resilience and hard work got me through them. While resilience is required in taking the bad breaks at the start (which I believe happens to test your mettle), hard work is needed to create more leads to increase your chances of bringing in bigger projects. In hindsight, having a co-founder would’ve helped enormously, but I’ve always been lucky that my wife knows the industry and is incredibly supportive.
Scaling a business
With more work came more income, and as the team grew, the pressure eased. Upon reflection, I realize how reliant you can be on one client in the early days, which is a very precarious position to be in. If they drop you, your business drops—and this means making tough calls about the team. Fortunately, I could always lean on my advisor and chairman Paul Edwards, who was an invaluable coach, highlighted things I’d overlooked, and helped me manage and expand the team. I’ve found that having an external advisor is not only what kept me sane, but what kept our company’s standards high. In turn, these standards drove our mission, vision and values, which proved key to attracting and retaining talent.
Merging a business
After years of great growth, we reached the point where we had nurtured an incredible team and built amazing market-leading products. But to truly accelerate our growth, we had to go global—and needed a partner to do so. Avoiding private equity as cash wasn’t the issue, our focus was on access to clients and facilitating global growth. After a lengthy scouting process, we were introduced to Media.Monks. We were immediately blown away by their agility, sheer focus on groundbreaking innovation, and culture of entrepreneurship. Making the merger decision may have been nerve-racking, but we knew we had the support of our people, whom we kept informed along every step of the process.
And what a great decision it was! Our merger was handled superbly by SI Partners, who managed our pitch process and the offers that led to the Letter of Intent, all the way through due diligence, legal and finally signing all the agreements. Having heard horror stories about this process taking up all of the leadership’s time—with a suffering business as the result—I was not looking forward to it, but our M&A partners made it easy to navigate.
Integrating a business
Wasting no time, Media.Monks quickly initiated integration. Turns out, they are pros at this. As a dedicated Post Merger Integration (PMI) team made everything run smoothly, we immediately felt part of the team. They provided a detailed plan of everything we needed to fall in on, like accounting practices, legal, HR, CRM software, audits and more. However, allowing us to move at our own pace was the real value of the PMI team, which made us feel comfortable in the nearly 12 months it took to fully merge.
On the business side of things, we jumped straight into the global network, sharing our story with any team that would listen, which was met with sincere interest and support. These last few years have led to significant global growth, as we’ve not only gained clients in new markets, but also expanded our Measure.Monks team. At the moment, we have talent located in New York, Toronto, the UK, Buenos Aires, Melbourne and Singapore, and this list will only keep growing.
While our team folds into the data pillar, we seamlessly work across our media, content and technology pillars. As a result, we regularly venture into new territory, from supporting our agility-focused media teams to running creative measurement and optimization with our content teams to developing new products with our data teams. There’s so much more to be explored, created and delivered—especially given the recent uptake in usage of AI and automation—and that’s why my excitement about this journey never wavers.
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