Sam Conniff: Livity
Focus: Youth specialist communications agency
Sam Conniff, 32
“It’s basically a marketing agency with a youth club in the middle,” says Sam Conniff, describing the controlled chaos that is the Livity workplace. The agency works with 12 to 21-year-olds to produce campaigns and content for clients including Google, the BBC and the Cabinet Office.
Conniff and co-founder Michelle Clothier started Livity in 2004 and after a few years struggling against a “do-gooder” tag are now seeing their social aims also pay off in a commercial sense, with turnover up to £3m. A quarter of Livity’s profits go into bursaries for young people, but Conniff is justifiably most proud that his business gets around 100 young people into education or employment each year.
It’s 13 years since Conniff and Clothier set Livity up and the company, which turned over £4.1m in 2013, is rightly proud to remain employed by the first two clients it secured in 2001.
With its socially innovative campaigns, communications, content and communities for 12-24 year-olds delivering for clients such as Google (for which it is a partner agency for internet safety among young people), Barclays, Tesco and Childline, it’s no surprise the business has received support from successive UK prime ministers.
It is also the lead creative on youth communications for Public Health England, which helped to secure a £7m investment for a project – somewhereto – that matches young people with spaces across the UK.
Conniff – who is mentored by Pret a Manger co-founder Sinclair Beecham and ex-Fifteen restaurant CEO Liam Black – was named in the top 5 of the Observer’s 50 New Radicals and won the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2011. He now sits on the board of the NESTA and Cabinet Office’s £15m Social Action and Innovation investment fund and mentors dozens of young entrepreneurs.
In addition, the company was recognised with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation in 2013, alongside David Cameron’s personal nomination of Livity for a Big Society Award. Now a media regular, Conniff has spoken at the hugely popular TEDx conference and arguably most importantly was named the UK’s best dressed social entrepreneur by The Guardian.