Agency Collective Tales Podcast

The Agency Collective Tales Podcast

Hosted by: Ellie Hale

Welcome to The Agency Collective Tales Podcast! We’re a community of agency founders and we put on events, produce resources tailored towards agency owners and we have our podcast! We love talking to you about your agency, hearing your stories and what you love about running your business. In these podcast episodes, we hear from members with the best examples of agencies innovating, adapting and thriving. We hope you enjoy them!

Episode #55

Harry Fielder @ Umi Digital

Staff retention can be hard at the best of times, but when you find yourself in the middle of a global pandemic and you are niched within the hospitality sector, just how can you hold on to your staff?Harry Fielder, Managing Director of Umi Digital joined to me to discuss exactly how he achieved this.

Episode #54

Kelly Molson @ Rubber Cheese

Starting an agency can be a bit of a wild ride, full of stress and uncertainty but also hugely rewarding. But how do you then make a move from a creative role to becoming a leader?We spoke to Kelly Molson, Founder and MD of Rubber Cheese to see how she made the transition.
Episode #53

Tomasz Dyl @ GottaBe!

Diversity and inclusion has been on everyone’s lips for the past few years, but our recent focus on this area hasn’t necessarily translated to the equitable society that we had hoped for. How to make our agencies diverse in a way that takes it in a new and better direction? How do we meaningfully engage with people from different backgrounds and experiences from ourselves and include them in the conversations that need to be had. In this episode, we are joined by Tomasz Dyl, MD of GottaBe! who knows more than most on this issue.
Episode #52

Serdar Paktin @ pakt

In this episode, Ellie speaks to Serdar Paktin, founder of holistic sense-making agency, Pakt, to find out more about how understanding a culture can not only improve your current offerings but create new opportunities too.

Episode #51

Mel Berry @ Social Firefly

In this episode, Ellie speaks to Co-Founder and MD of Digital Firefly, Mel Berry, about her journey and how we can use our experiences to enrich our businesses and to support our teams, should they choose to embark on parenthood – In terms of wellbeing and practical help, including parental leave.

Episode #50

Alfie Payne @ Ape Group

Ellie speaks to Alfie Payne from Ape Group. Alfie candidly discusses his agency journey, explaining he embraced his differences to succeed and how important it is to know your own value when you start an agency. He also discusses how Ape Group are ensuring staff cohesion and well being as they grow.

Episode #49

Olly Fawcett @ 303

Ellie is joined by Olly Fawcett founder of 303. Olly discusses, how he took the non-academic route to starting a business, the importance of creativity and personal connection in a business and managing rapid expansion in an agency.

Episode #48

Sue Keogh @ Sookio

In this episode, Ellie chats with Sue Keogh from Sookio. Sookio, are an award-winning digital marketing agency from Cambridge. Sue chats about sustaining strong connections with clients and staff during times of crisis, learning to trust your gut in business and how to support staff who are struggling.

Episode #47

Laura Hannan @ Pitch121

Ellie chats with the wonderful Pitch121 this week. Pitch121 are a social selling service that nurtures your future clients. They help you scale your network and help you to get initial conversations started. Through thorough targeting, they make sure every single conversation is with your potential ideal client.

Episode #46

Stokely Howard @ Trendy Grandad

This week Ellie chats to Trendy Grandad, an agency that specialises in creating videos for corporate businesses that want to appeal to new audiences. Their experience spans across the last 10 years producing commercials for companies such as Barclays, Aviva & Woodfordes beer & The Big C.
The value that Trendy Grandad offers is young creative minds and a wealth of experience in changing corporate businesses output from old to new!

Episode #45

Rich Brassett @ Long Live King

Ellie’s joined by Rich Brassett by Long Live King this week. Rich has a technical and website design/development background and having worked in an agency previously, he partnered with one of his friends and went freelance. He built Long Live King four years ago and has enjoyed developing his client base by identifying their niche specialisms, choosing to work with purpose-driven brands.

Episode #44

Mark Mars @ Niche Website Builders

Mark Mars is the co-founder of Niche Website Builders. Established in December 2019, Niche Website Builders has grown from two members of staff to 85 in just 17 months. Having been involved in SEO and content marketing for around 15 years, this is Mark’s second digital agency and he was originally member #1 of The Agency Collective.

The two agencies Mark founded could not be more different, even though they offer the same core services. Mark took all the learnings from his first agency and built his new agency, to scale his service offering primarily to content publishers. Niche Website Builders has recently white labelled their services so that other agencies can now sell the same services that saw them experience this incredible growth.

Episode #43

Amanda Jackson @ Tigerfish PR

Having found her passion for PR working for other agencies for over a decade, Amanda Jackson formed Tigerfish PR 20 years ago, priding herself on doing PR ethically. Having had experience in manufacturing before the world of PR, it was a natural fit to specialise and offer PR services to clients in the manufacturing and logistics sector, since both parties speak the language and know the industry inside out.

Episode #42

Abi Mellor @ Morever

Morever is a creative agency specialising in creative communications and visual storytelling. Abi and her husband Dan brought together their wealth of agency experience to forge their own, following the birth of their two children. With a passion for the health and charity sectors, they’ve worked with the likes of Greenpeace and Diabetes UK on video storytelling.

Episode #41

Jay Scott-Nicholls @ Circus

In this podcast episode, Ellie Hale sits down with Jay Scott-Nicholls from Circus, established in 2010. Having lived in China with his family, they moved back to the UK and ended up helping Google to create Street View indoors. Since then, and lots of evolutions and pivots later, Circus is now an agency team of 15 specialising in 360 photography and marketing. Each member of the team has VR headsets and they event have team meetings in VR in their virtual office.

Episode #40

Lisa Lavis @ Glow

In episode 40, Ellie sits down with Lisa Lavis, the founder of Glow, who have just celebrated their 21st business anniversary. Lisa started her career in corporate life working in Deloitte, London as a National Marketing Manager. Times were different, and she knew there had to be a better way to do business. It was then that she formed her own marketing agency. In this podcast, hear about Lisa’s journey and how she focused her agency’s attention on design, branding and creative ideas.

Episode #39

Ben Anderson @ Sound Rebel

In this podcast we are joined by Ben Anderson from Sound Rebel. Ben worked in the UK’s commercial radio industry for a decade, starting his career with Capital FM as a breakfast show producer and ending as Managing Editor for three Capital stations in the North West and North Wales. He started Sound Rebel just over two years ago and produces podcasts for brands, businesses and personalities across the world.

Sound Rebel’s podcasts can regularly be found in the Apple and Spotify charts, and Ben works with clients all the way from idea development through to distribution to all of the major podcast apps.

Episode #38

Rebecca @ Fountain

Rebecca is co-founder of Fountain and passionate about building an exceptional culture for the agency’s team of digital marketing experts – where they can thrive and do their best work. Having been Managing Director for 11 years, in 2020 she proudly handed the reins to the next generation of agency leadership, while remaining involved in the business with a focus on people and culture.

Now with a team of 44, Fountain was established with four founders – two couples who brought their skills and expertise together to help businesses with their lead generation, driving traffic and conversion rate optimisation.

Episode #37

Steve & Emma Grant @ Figment

Husband and wife team Steve and Emma at Figment agency sat down with Ellie to introduce their agency, talk about what life is like as agency co-founders and partners in life, as well as juggling parenthood too. Figment is a digital marketing agency specialising in SEO.

Episode #36

David Ogiste @ Nobody’s Café

It all started hosting house parties at sixteen years old… Nineteen years of experience later, David Ogiste has travelled the world, delivering experiential activations for global clients like PlayStation, PepsiCo, Starbucks and more. This journey led David to found Nobody’s Café, an experiential collective, with the vision that bringing people together creates unforgettable moments.

Episode #35

Michael & Robbie @ The House

Michael Murdoch and Robbie Dale chat about their creative agency The House and the journey to sharing storytelling secrets with Story Cube.

They have been named in both the inaugural BIMA Hot 100 and Drum Digerati, and are alumni in the prestigious Marketing Academy scholarship and the 10,000 Small Businesses Goldman Sachs Programme. We chat about what makes them tick and what inspired them to move from a service based offering to developing a product as well.

Episode #34

Charles & Ashley @ Unity & Motion

Founders Charles & Ashley from Unity & Motion join Ellie to talk about how they swapped the career ladder for forging their own path, along with exploring their commitment to continual personal improvement as founders and their team. 

They also dive into the industry improvement work which Charles & Ashley have been driving forward over the past year through their Unify initiative. Working with key industry leaders they have been discussing, identifying and agreeing on actionable positive steps for topics such as:

  • Systemic inequality within UK creative industries
  • How work patterns can positively impact the environment
  • The financial implications of COVID-19
  • How to attract and retain the best talent
Episode #33

James Armstrong @ Digital Firefly

Ellie talks with James Armstrong, the co-founder of Digital Firefly, about the police force, starting an agency and what happens when your business partner goes on mat leave…

James is the co-founder and director of Digital Firefly, a creative digital marketing agency based in Brighton and Hove. His expertise in audience first marketing campaigns grew from his 10 year experience in policing, from walking the beat to managing Sussex Police’s social media marketing activities.

Just over two years ago he made the leap into agency life alongside co-founder Mel Berry, and hasn’t looked back since. Together their passion for putting the ‘social’ back into social media helps clients grab attention, build meaningful relationships and convert customers.

Episode #32

Mark Alford @ Managed Language

Mark Alford podcast, founder of Managed Language, talks to Ellie about translations, innovation, and the state of the industry. Mark has a team of 4 staff and over 5000 Linguists and 900 Transcreators. They work with major brands like Freeman Gratton and all their agencies including Swimwear356 and Bonpre, along with UNiDAYS and Agencies that include 20Ten, TMW, Positive Group and many more.

Episode #31

Corrie Jones @ Untapped Digital

During this episode, Ellie chats with Corrie about social media and the common pitfalls of various platforms, plus they discuss how to go about building an agency culture.

Corrie is the founder of London-based social media agency Untapped Digital, working with ambitious brands around the world on social content, advertising and strategy. Over her 7 years in the industry, Corrie has shared social media expertise with a range of different businesses, from NatWest to Omaze, and has managed live social media content at a number of high-profile events, including with the BBC and the British Royal Family. She also hosts the chart-topping podcast show Self-Made Women.

Episode #30

Jay Middleton @ The Animation Guys

Jay is the founder of The Animation Guys. He has a background in Fine Art, Graphic Design, Film making and is a skilled 2D Animator. Having navigated his away around a successful advertising career working with clients such as IKEA, Coca-Cola, O2 and many more. His focus now is to keep growing The Animation Guys, maintaining the level of artist integrity and everyone’s inner child. After all, animation is meant to be fun, right?

During this episode, Ellie and Jay chat about life during lockdown, systems that have supported better communication with remote working, and how agency life has shifted since their first year in business.

Episode #29

Brant McNaughton @ ecce

Brant is the founder and chief bottle-washer at ecce. -a web development studio based in Kent whose specialities include bespoke e-commerce applications, solutions & integrations. They are 20 years old this year – a small team, with a global client base including Sennheiser, NHS & Beyerdynamic. Brant & the team work with clients direct and other agencies alike.

During this episode, Ellie & Brant chat about remote working, time-pressured briefs, and the karma of establishing good relationships with agency partners.

Episode #28

Marc Convey @ 23 Digital

23 Digital uses the latest film, image capture and simulation technologies to tell visual stories. They are masters of emerging technologies in visual communication, from filmmaking to virtual reality, drone scanning to timelapse.

During this episode, Ellie finds out about the future of video technology and how Marc’s agency is pivoting to meet new demand from clients. They also get on to discuss work/life balance – a hot topic within the walls of 23D’s virtual office right now.

Episode #27

Nick Boyce @ Pollenary

Nick is director of Pollenary, a performance marketing agency for e-commerce brands focused on Facebook and Instagram advertising. He’s also co-host of Facebook Ads Meetup London and a proud Dad!

During this episode we talk about how Nick started his agency based on remote working, the best way to approach recruitment at the moment (especially for a first hire!), and also how client performance has gone bonkers over the pandemic.

Episode #26

Susi & Katrin Owusu @ Smoke Creatives

Smoke Creatives specialises in print, digital and experiential to drive customer engagement, loyalty and sales. The agency was started by two sisters, Katrin and Susi Owusu. In this podcast, they chat with Ellie about how their agency started, plus dive into women in agencies and talk honestly about how to make things work when running a business with a family member.

Episode #25

Samson Owolabi @ Bearded Fellows

This week, Ellie chats to Samson Owolabi, co-founder of animation and video agency ‘Bearded Fellows’. In this podcast, he talks about the importance of a diverse workforce, taking on projects just for fun, and focusing on positivity. Samson has built his business with a purpose to grow and develop a creative network that encourages empathy, creativity and collaboration.

Episode #24

Claire Ritchie-Tomkins, Co-Founder of SQN

SQN, an award-winning integrated marketing communications agency working in tech sport and automotive. During this episode, we chat to Claire about women in agencies, the importance of diversity of experience (and not just gender), encouraging more women into STEM industries, and also what it’s like working with Formula 1 as a client.

Episode #23

Gavin Willis, Founder of SearchSeven

In this episode we speak to Gavin Willis – founder of the PPC agency Search Seven. They’re based in Brighton, and run on a ‘profit for good’ type of ethos. Their mission is in their name. Listen to the podcast to find out why. Also check out their #share77k initiative:

Episode #22

Simon Lucey, Founder of Hype Collective

In this episode we speak to Simon Lucey – the founder of student marketing agency Hype Collective. This time of the year is usually the busiest for universities with 1000s of events to attract potential students – however COVID has had a massive impact on the higher education sector. Simon and his  agency had to adapt quickly within his niche. We talk about their product innovation and how he found ways to keep his agency pushing forwards.

Episode #21

James Hakesly, Co-Founder of Cube

In this episode we speak to James Hakesley – co-founder of Cube Video. An award winning video production, animation and photography studio. They believe the best way to tell a story online, is through beautiful, relatable, insightful and compelling content that resonates with your target audience.

Episode #20

Jenny Stanley, Founder of Appetite Creative

In this episode we speak to Jenny Stanley the founder Appetite Creative – a creative technology agency. With a team of 23 people across three offices in the UK, Spain and Madrid – she is used to travelling 4-5x a week. However due to the current situation and the quarantine strictness in Spain, Jenny has had to shift like many of you to a purely remote working model.

Topics we cover in this episode:

  • Starting your agency with a 3 year old and the added drive to succeed that comes with that
  • Running offices from another country
  • Communication of teams in three different locations
  • Relationship with employees friends vs. manager
  • Creating a diverse workforce
Episode #19

Scott Jones, Founder of Illustrate

This episode is a recording we did on 29 April. Hearing back this episode reminds us how far we’ve all come in only two months. We speak to Scott Jones, founder of Illustrate.

Something that really stood out for me in this interview and has been a ‘make or break’ for a lot agencies during the pandemic outbreak:
1. The value of niching especially when it goes your way
2. Illustrate are an amazing WordPress agency with a team of 15 people, that has a niche particularly in the FinTech sector

Scott shares some really good insights on how their agency continued to grow throughout COVID.

Episode #18

Sam Booth, Founder of Just After Midnight

Today we’re talking to Sam Booth. He’s the founder of Just After Midnight. A team of 35 highly skilled people with a unique type of set up that focusses on providing 24/7. Managed cloud services, infrastructure and application support and DevOps.

Unfortunately Sam was one of the first 250 people who was infected by COVID. Thankfully he’s OK now.

Topics we cover:

  • The physical and mental impact of living with COVID for a month

  • The impact of it on his family

  • What kind of things they’ve put in place to support their team of the past months?

  • Productivity of staff

  • The changes he’ll take with him into the future

Episode #17

Sophia ‘Puff’ Story & Duncan Cook, Owners of 3 Sided Cube

Our guests this week are Sophia ‘Puff’ Story and Duncan Cook – the owners of 3 Sided Cube – an app development company and digital tech agency. They champion tech for good and work with some of the most well known organisations in the world doing good for our humanity.

Topics we cover:

  • Success guilt
  • Their successful project with Red Cross
  • The impact on your team’s mental health when working on purposeful projects – especially when negative news surrounds you everywhere
  • Their changes to working in the office
  • How to inspire the next generation of women to run their own agencies?
Episode #16

Sally Maier-Yip, Founder of 11K

In this episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast we talk to Sally Maier-Yip, founder of UK-China luxury lifestyle PR & Comms Agency – 11k. We are curious to find out whether there is such a thing as the ‘new normal’ in China – or if everything is back to the way it was before.

Topics we cover:

  • How to overcome the fear of public speaking and build self-confidence as an agency owner.
  • What are major differences between the luxury sector in the UK and China?
  • How her luxury retail clients have adopted to the current situation?
  • And finally her top tips for women running agencies or looking to start her agency.
Episode #15

Flavilla Fongang, Founder of 3 Colours Rule

In this episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast we chat to Flavilla Fongang about innovation through COVID 19, what motivated her to found Black Women in Tech and why she thinks diversity is so important for the 3 Colours Rule brand and for her clients’ brands. We also talk about her new academy and plans for the future.

Episode #14

Eimear McManus, Founder of Digital Works

Eimear McManus is our next guest on our Agency Collective Tales podcast. She is the founder of the agency Digital Works, who are a marketing agency that offer brand development, social media and content marketing services. “Bringing brands to life” in a personal, trustworthy and memorable manner is their mantra. Get ready for some great vibes, her energy is infectious.

Topics we cover:

  • Pitching for work via Zoom
  • Remote working when everyone wants to be at the office
  • Pricing your services
  • General differences between women and men in businesses
  • Onboarding new team members virtually
  • Her tips on how to build your confidence in the early stages of your agency
Episode #13

Becky Simms, Co-Founder of Reflect Digital

In our next episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast we speak to Becky Simms co-founder of Reflect – an agency that uses a deep understanding of human behaviour to deliver great solutions and business growth through search engine and performance marketing.

Topics we cover:

  • What inspired her to start her agency?
  • How she inspires other women to run businesses?
  • Running an agency with your life partner
  • Onboarding new recruits during COVID
Episode #12

Lara Findlay, Co-Founder of GearedApp

In this episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast we interview Lara Findlay, co-founder of Scotland based app development specialist agency – GearedApp.

Topics we cover:

  • How is a tech agency fairing right now?
  • How honest should you be with your team and clients?
  • How friendly should you be with clients?
  • How can we support women in our industry?
  • How to overcome questioning yourself constantly as an agency owner?
  • What her network means to her personal development?
Episode #11

Louisa Dunbar, Founder of Orange Grove

In this episode of The Agency Collective tales podcast we are joined by Louisa Dunbar, a self-confessed web geek with a strong interest in human psychology and neuroscience. She is the founder of the agency Orange Grove – they focus on improving website conversion through applying concepts in psychology and behavioural science to their work.

We cover:

  • her disciplined approach to constantly posting great content on LinkedIn
  • gender gap in our industry
  • imposter syndrome
  • and taking risks with your agency
Episode #10

Beth Sherman, Co-Founder of Signify Digital

In this episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast we speak to Beth Sherman, founder of data centric marketing agency Signify DigitalWomen In Agency month continues here at The Agency Collective and we wanted to hear Beth’s perspective on the topic:

  • She shares her thoughts on the gender gap amongst agency owners.
  • How to build up the confidence to start and grow an agency as a woman.
  • Finally what has helped her to thrive with her agency.
Episode #09

Abi Dixon, Founder of Labyrinth Marketing

In this episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast we speak to Abi Dixon founder of Labyrinth Marketing – a marketing agency that looks to support the people behind the brands. They do this by consulting on marketing strategy but also by coaching individuals at their client’s business. She shares her homeschooling experiences during COVID, while running her agency. She’s currently in the process of writing a book (working title: The Whole Marketeer) – a book for in-house marketeers. How having children has spurred her to succeed in her business. Abi is simply an all around legend.

Episode #08

Elise Jackson, Co-Founder of This Is Unicorn

We often talk about niching here at The Agency Collective. A topic of great debate. Shall I or shall I not? There is a lot of data that speaks for niching, especially when you are sub £5M turnover. However, right now and depending what sector you serve – the reality is – niching might be the best idea ever or your worst nightmare.

Since we’re trying to highlight as many motivational stories in this podcast, we’re going to showcase an agency today that has found incredible market fit – exactly at the right time.

The agency This Is Unicorn specialises on Amazon sellers & vendors – and is run by Elise Jackson & Giunlucca Trombetta.

Let’s find out exactly what they do for their clients and how COVID has impacted their agency.

Episode #07

Christian Gunn, Co-Founder of LoveGunn

In this episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast, we interview Christian Gunn. Christian and his co-founder Tom run a branding agency with a truly creative name: LoveGunn (named after the founders last names: Tom Love and Christian Gunn).

They’ve done some great work over the years. Most recently a rebrand of the social content agency Electric House coming up with the great claim “Can I Get A Watt Watt” that pays a tribute to their construction industry community OnTheTools and the 1998 Jay-Z song that appeared in the movie Rush Hour.

We were really curious to hear what an incredibly creative agency like LoveGunn works on during a pandemic. Join us to hear how they helped create Infotagion, which has been on a mission to fight disinformation contagion about COVID-19.

Episode #06

Madelyn Postman, Managing Director at Leidar

When everything kicked off a couple of months ago there was one agency that before everyone else had already packaged a whole new offering for their clients to deal with the crisis. That agency is the PR specialist Leidar. Run by Madelyn Postman, she originally founded her own branding agency Grain and later merged with Leidar.

There are definitely benefits in being part of a larger entity and having the resource to act fast in a crisis situation Is one of them. In this episode of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast we cover exactly what service they are now offering. How Madelyn is responding to the current economic conditions. From a new business, client services and team management perspective.

Episode #05

Andy Smith, Founder of Strategiq

Our next guest Andy Smith is the parachuter type CEO. He’s known to roll up his sleeves in tough situations – someone who thrives as an agency owner when it gets difficult. He’s lead his agency Strategiq – a performance marketing and Mailchimp partner agency – to one success after another and we’re uncovering how he’s dealing with COVID.

Episode #04

Flo Powell, Co-Founder of Midnight Communications

Flo Powell is the co-owner and joint MD of Midnight Communications, a PR and digital content agency based in sunny Brighton.

Midnight works with businesses, professional services firms and brands alike, applying our commercial nous to crack consumer briefs while approaching our b2b campaigns with creative flair. She joins us for another episode of The Agency Collective Tales podcast. Enjoy the show…

Episode #03

Simon Schnieders, Founder of Blue Array

Simon Schnieders is the founder of Blue Array – the largest pure play SEO agency in the UK. With a team of 40 people, Simon had to move quickly during this crisis to ensure every single one of his team members feels secure. Find out about Blue Array’s own marketing activities right now – as I know they are generally very strong in this department. Apparently one of their initiatives has produced 100s of high quality leads for them. Enjoy this show of The Agency Collective Tales Podcast…

Episode #02

Naeem Alvi, Founder of Notepad Studio

Notepad is a strategic branding agency specialising in helping ambitious SMEs to accelerate their growth. The agency was founded by Naeem Alvi. In this episode we talk about Sometime, which is a nonprofit initiative created in the wake of COVID19. It helps freelancers and professionals with time on their hands to solve thousands of creative challenges resulting from the Corona Virus Pandemic.

Episode #01

Kat Arney, Founder of First Create The Media

Our guest Dr Kat Arney is an award-winning science writer, broadcaster and founder of the agency First Create The Media. A communication strategy and content agency working with clients in the life sciences. Kat was a science communications and media specialist at Cancer Research UK before starting her agency.

She’s also an author and has written for the BBC, The Times, The Guardian, Nature, Mosaic, New Scientists and many more. She also hosts her own podcast: Genetics Unzipped.