‘Started with £5,000 in the bank’ How two friends made £750,000 in just one year
From a two-man team to international offices on the North American West coast, the founders shared their journey to unprecedented success. Richard Perry and Richard Mabbott set off to create a new creative agency that did away with the ‘grown up rules’ of general management, forming a unique work culture and sought-after selling point for the business.
In only its second year of business, Founded was able to open offices in San Francisco and is currently being sold in a multi-million pound deal.
Recently, co-founder Mr Perry exclusively spoke to Express.co.uk about their journey to the top.
Founded began with only £5,000, which it has turned into a business with £10million revenue in the last year.
Inspired by the pub that fuelled their business planning – the Founders Arms on London’s Southbank – the founders had no idea just what level of success, and risk, they were about to get into.
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Both Mr Perry and Mr Mabbott had young families when they left their stable and high paying executive positions at a global agency, but their entrepreneurial spirit was not satisfied, driving the friends to take a massive leap of faith into their own business.
Mr Perry explained they had “an idea to start an agency that was a great place to work with a culture where people would be happy and prosper”.
He continued: “We started it with £5k in the bank, we spent that on the url and then made some calls and sent some emails to get work.
“It felt like we had to do it – we said that we’d give it a year and if it wasn’t working then we’d review it. The main criteria is that we were enjoying it. In the first year we turned over £750,000.
“In the last year of the earn out we turned over around £10million”
In their executive roles, the pair truly enjoyed working with clients and one of the biggest downsides for them of working in such a large company was that the management hierarchy kept pulling them away from this hands-on work.
As part of their ‘doing away’ with traditional management schemes, Founded is built on a flat management and culture of trust, relying on team members to encourage, challenge and work as suits them.
Mr Perry added: “We found it odd how people are treated in the workplace – like children.
“Approval for holidays, approval for a dentist, coming in late, leaving early – it doesn’t foster a culture of trust.
“We wanted Founded to be a safe place – where people can be honest, straight forward and have the space to do good work and be fulfilled.
“But there was a caveat – we won’t always get it right and sometimes we will make mistakes – admit that and openly course correct.”
Though non-traditional in every sense, the business has seen exponential success and has been sold to Iris Worldwide as part of a multimillion pound deal.
The founders executed this move with the same unique humanity that gave them their head start in the industry, ensuring that all staff roles would be protective and turning down multiple offers until they were sure that the partner would continue the business with their original values and disruptive creativity.
The founding pair still act as advisors to the new business as well, ensuring that the unique work culture and management structure can also stay for years to come.
“We had already given 20 percent of the company to employees as shareholders so it was very important to choose our partner wisely, we did and everyone benefited.”
But this wasn’t the end of the entrepreneurial road for Mr Perry and Mr Mabbott, they have gone on to launch consultancy business Courage & Candour which offers C-suite leadership teams, marketing appraisals and strategy.
“As a consulting approach we want to be focused on strategy and partnerships. We’re here to make the people and clients we work with be successful – through ‘Candor’ – unashamedly honest all the time and ‘courage’ – giving advice that isn’t always easy to receive,” Mr Perry added.
He concluded by saying that the best advice budding entrepreneurs should follow is: “Just do it – get on with it! Progress every day.”
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