The Entrepreneur: James Connelly, Fetch

Having just expanded to Berlin, we speak with the 2011 Young Gun about his "visionary" mobile agency, Stephen Fry's tweets, and the growth of apps

Founder: James Connelly
Company: Fetch
Description in one line: Mobile agency; marketing services for the new mobile world
Previous companies: None
Turnover: £35m in 2013
12 month target: £75m by Year end Dec 14

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:

  • Mobile has changed the world and the way we communicate. Brands and advertisers need to change too.
  • Fetch delivers positive change via mobile for exciting start-ups and global brands.
  • The combination of creativity and data sets us apart. Our internal mantra is to be ‘Measurably Daring’.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Forget all the awards, when Stephen Fry tweeted about one of the campaigns we did for eBay that was a good moment.

What numbers do you look at every day in your business?

The one’s around the clock – trying to be as time efficient as possible. We’re active in 99 countries and have four offices spanning three continents so it’s busy for a four and half year old business. We’ll look at financial numbers on more of a weekly basis and projected revenue for rolling three months.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We have offices in London, Berlin, Hong Kong and San Francisco. The US is our biggest growth market at the moment but Asia is exciting and we expect good growth to come.

Describe your growth funding path:

We incubated Fetch for the first few months under co-founder Declan Reddington’s other agency AdConnection which gave us an instant route to market, keeping us lean until we were bringing in revenue. That meant we didn’t need to raise money. In 2012, Steve Leach, the founder of Big Mouth Media, personally invested into the business and joined us on the board.

What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

Apps. We do a huge amount of work around native applications. Less in the building of them but more in the promoting of them and that has changed the way digital marketing works dramatically.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

On the tip of everyone’s tongue in the marketing world globally. We aim to be the most visionary agency in the mobile world.

Growth challenges

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

To be honest, I think the hardest is yet to come. There’s been a few tough calls around hiring and firing as you’re dealing with your business and people’s livelihood.

What was your biggest business mistake?

Going cheap on legal advice in the early days of Fetch on various projects.

Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:

Big brands being locked into contracts from their media agency when the client knows the agency can’t do mobile. The agency know they can’t do mobile but their contract restricts the client from working with any other agency.

What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Thinking they can do it all themselves and not bringing in smart people around them early for support and a soundboard.

How will your market look in three years?

£17bn in size.

What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?

Make sure you enjoy it because if it’s successful it will be your life for a long time.

Personal growth

Biggest luxury:

Just back from a summer break, it was a treat. We had a hot-tub on the balcony…

Executive education or learn it on the job?

I learnt on the job and from my peers.

What would make you a better leader?

Better memory.

Business book:

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli


(will not be published)