Manchester Focus: Is there a trend towards creative start-ups in Manchester?
Manchester is already regarded as one of the creative hot spots of the UK. But this reputation is growing – fast. And with the MediaCityUK development in Salford now almost fully operational, the creative kudos of the area is only set to grow. So, to find out more about what’s really going on in the city, The Drum put a series of pertinent questions to 20 different agencies that operate at the coal-face of Manchester’s creative industry.
In a series of feature pages, we look at the agencies' responses, to explore the varying industry perceptions of the city.
Nick Rhind, Managing Director, CTI Digital
It's all about the Northern Quarter - cheap space, lots of bars, delis and great nightlife. There are lots of great well renowned agencies in Manchester, so couple that with the former and you get a great mix for people to believe they can do something better. There’s been some great success for some of these over the last couple of years. I remember meeting a company with 2 people that now has 10 and is winning new agency of the year against some pretty stiff competition.
Reuben Webb, creative director, IAS B2B
With the low overheads and growing opportunities it’s certainly more tempting than a London start-up. The Other Agency is a good example: those guys have set out to prove that good creative are naturally strategic and getting deserved recognition. Whether that’s sustainable remains to be seen because there comes a point when creative business people want to go back to being creative again and start hiring suits to manage their success. It’s probably a better model for growth to have a range of skills in your creative start-up. After all, creatives need more money to retire with as we have more imagination.
Mike Moran, MD, MojoFuel
Entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Manchester. I can't speak for whether there is any definite trend that exceeds other cities or regions but there is certainly a buzz of young ambitious people.
Wayne Silver, Director of New Business, One Marketing Communications
I don’t know the statistical answer to this. All I would say is that, as Manchester is such a large creative and marketing hub, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that there is more positive reason for creatives to strike out on their own.
Steve Peters, Code Computerlove
Manchester does have more than its fair share of smaller agencies but I think this is a sign of the depth and breadth of the sector. It is harder for those agencies to break through now. Just recently I think we have seen a trend of start-ups taking advantage of the shift towards Apps, however that has also come with a number of business closures recently.
Garry Byrne, MD, Reading Room Manchester
I don't think Manchester is alone in hosting a lot of creative start-ups - any city with a tendency to be creative will naturally find its small offices and hotdesks filled with freelance designers, developers and start-ups. The difference is that it's no longer the default activity of heading to London if you want to give something a go - there's all the support and help you need right on your doorstep.
Julian Gratton, Managing Director & Creative Director, Red C
I think wherever there is a big city with a thriving industry you’ll have a lot of start-ups. The question is, are the start-ups offering anything new or different? Not from what I have seen or heard.
Paul Heaton, Creative Director, Reform Creative
Manchester has the best creative pool and it will inevitably mean a higher percentage of start-ups here. This is also compounded by the amount of freelancers who make themselves appear as agencies.
Phil Marshall, Owner, Shoot The Moon
Not sure on the national average but we have certainly seen an emergence of new agencies in the North West.
Fergus McCallum, CEO, TBWA\Manchester
It's surely not a trend that's any different to the evolution of creative businesses through the ages and definitely no different to anywhere else. There have always been start-ups, there always will be - good luck to them, because their success is good for the community as a whole.
Gareth Wright, Director, The Little Black Book Agency
Manchester is an excellent place to start a creative business – everyone knows at least someone who has started-up on their own. The close-knit creative community and the various success stories are always inspiring and often mean that others are motivated to follow suit.
IAS B2B, RedC, Reading Room, Code Computerlove, TBWA\Manchester, CTI Digital, One Marketing Communications are all members of MiNetwork.