Young, foolish and independent

Having read last week’s Close-up piece on new agency The Corner, it reminded me of iris’ early days.

What a couple of years it has been – Crayon, Chemistry, Meteorite, Karmarama, Kitcatt Nohr, Taxi and many more.

There has been a definite acceleration in the amount of interesting and talented agencies finding bigger partnerships.

We’re no exception by the way agreeing a small minority investment with American publisher Meredith.

There are a couple of interesting things here.

As you get older, youthful principles become less relevant as your life becomes more expensive and generally more stressful. You have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay.

Whatever happened that made you do a start-up in the first place sooner or later starts to fade and it becomes much more linked to some kind of more rational ‘strategic’ move.

As we have grown and grown up, I have built a respect and understanding of the big networks. They are all powerful, and ultimately all consuming. I didn’t think that I would ever hear myself say that.

Like some ‘real-life-layer-cake’, the networks’ scale give them an ‘influence’ over client behaviours that is difficult to compete against for long periods.

Whilst the brave entrepreneurs, who put their heart and souls lovingly into their start ups find an energizing pleasure in being different, in being themselves, and not having to answer to anyone, most clients are less interested in these principles and tend to be more likely to buy into more rational alignments, consolidation and lower risk profiles.

Whilst I think this is true, I think that the entrepreneurial leader still has a very significant role to play with the agency landscape.

They embody innovation, owning the future, naïve purity and overwhelming craftsmanship.

It is the job of the young, the foolish and the independent to keep the majority of our networked industry both honest, on its toes and curious about the future.

If these people are doing this they are standing out, offering differentiation, and growth opportunity.

This gives the bubbling and vibrant ‘underclass’ choices.

To sell, to partner, to merge, to do nothing, to buy, to build, to have and to hold… and perhaps it is this idea of having ‘choice’ that is the common thread that unifies everyone that has ever taken on the rollercoaster ride of independance.

  • tomjordanuk

    Nice post – I think it’s the same in most professions though. The independents are usually the people to innovate and tread where others often fear to venture.  

    Established players sit back and see what works (and what doesn’t) then pile in afterwards.   You can see this in everything from Hotels (start up boutique hotels versus the multi-national chains) to coffee shops (your local decent coffee shop versus Starbucks) to gyms to fashion to the film industry to digital etc. 

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