'Don't start a business, build a brand,' Sir John Hegarty on working in the startup sector

Startup businesses must build a brand when implementing their initial business strategy according to BBH co-founder and all around advertising legend, Sir John Hegarty.

Speaking at The Drum Arms during Advertising Week Europe, Sir John, who helped grow among other startup brands, Camden Hells lager, discussed what he has taken from his decades in advertising into his incubator business, The Garage.

Asked what excites him about the sector he explained that he saw it almost like developing a creative concept: "You start with a blank page and you have to have an idea. And then then from that idea something that communicates the brand and its values or you audience - that will come from nothing. The incubator world is very much the same. People come in to you with ideas for businesses and what you are doing is helping them to not just build a business but to create a brand."

He described the UK as a "good environment" for people to try and set up a business although he accepted that the hardest challenge was still to find financial backing. "Banks are no longer supporting businesses in the way they used to," he stated, highlighting the important role to startups that companies such as The Garage provide to put seed capital into such businesses. "That's what the startup industry needs and it needs more people doing that."

Of working in the incubator world and taking the lessons he had learned from his career in advertising, Sir John said that he had accumulated so much knowledge and experience about what to do and what not to do when 'debating' with others over businesses ideas to help businesses grow. "That's what an advertising agency does...I'm just applying that to young businesses."

See the full interview with Sir John Hegarty above.

Stephen Lepitak

Stephen Lepitak is editor of The Drum, with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the content produced for the various platforms run by the publication. Over the years he has interviewed agency network bosses such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Maurice Lévy and Arthur Sadoun, as well as Cindy Gallop, Kim Kardashian, film directors James Cameron, Spike Jonze, Richard Curtis and Lord David Puttnam. With a keen interest in media and breaking news, Lepitak has been with The Drum since 2005 and is based across its UK, US and Asia operations.

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