From bedroom to the international boardroom
It was Transfer Deadline Day yesterday but one of the most significant deals went largely under the radar - probably because it had (almost) nothing to do with football.
One of Manchester’s most successful digital agencies - e3creative - was snapped up by international digital agency, Dept.
The deal makes a lot of sense and its significance can’t be underestimated. Founder Jake Welsh has grown e3creative out of a back bedroom to become a £3.5m turnover Manchester-based agency with 60 staff.
Meteoric growth and a liberal sprinkling of awards caught the attention of international agency Dept, which boasts more than 1,000 employees, spans 11 countries and has a turnover of 130 million euros (£113m).
After 12 months of discussions and several trips to Dept’s HQ in Amsterdam, two became one and e3creative joined Dept. Welsh is staying in the business while co-owner and Manchester United legend Gary Neville has exited. “He was 100 per cent supportive,” said Welsh.
In less than a decade e3creative (which will be changing its name later this year) has gone from a bedroom to the international boardroom. It’s a remarkable story and one worthy of sharing.
→ READ MORE: DIGITAL SKILLS FESTIVAL RETURNS TO MANCHESTER
Welsh is born and bred in Lancashire. One of three children he had no ambition to follow in his father Philip’s footsteps as a newspaper editor.
He wasn’t a fan of education – where reports described him as the “class clown” – but showed a talent for illustration and decided he wanted to work for Pixar.
After going to the University of Salford to study new media and design he was quickly made redundant so launched e3creative at the age of 22 from his home in Lytham with the help of his mum’s credit card.
Today home is at the impressive Queens House in Manchester. If Rachel Riley ever steps down from Channel 4’s Countdown, look no further than Welsh as her replacement because he loves numbers. Turnover has grown from £47,000 in year one to £3.5m.
Every morning he checks the company’s bank balance to make sure everything is healthy.
He started working with Gary Neville and the two got on so well that the football pundit bought 50 per cent of the business.
His involvement certainly raised the profile of e3creative but Welsh has insisted it’s always been about the team.
Several companies expressed an interest in buying e3creative but Welsh said something “just clicked” with Dept.
“I remember flying over to Amsterdam and we just spoke for three or four hours,” he recalled. “It was a meeting of minds.”
Manchester United supporter Welsh is staying with the business but Neville has disappeared into the sunset.
“Gary invested in e3creative in 2015 when the company had 17 people and wasn’t turning over £1m,” recalls Welsh. “It’s now doing £3.5m, with 60 people but we both knew it was the right time.”
Welsh said they’ll now be able to leverage Dept’s large scale to service its clients with the additional technology.
“It’s not the end but rather than the beginning of a new journey,” 31-year-old Welsh told me yesterday. “This is all about the next 10 years. My ambition is the same as it was when I started the business on 2010 and that’s to be the biggest international agency in the world. Joining with Dept makes it even more achievable.”
Managing director of Dept UK, Jasper van de Luijtgaarden, shares his passion. “We’re one step closer to achieving our growth ambition with e3creative joining and we look forward to combining our strengths to better service our clients,” he said.
Dimi Albers, CEO of Dept, said: “We are striving to become one of the leading digital agencies worldwide in the next few years; an ambition we believe is fully achievable by expanding our regional services and on-boarding exciting agencies, such as e3creative.”