Sam Martin-Ross who is the founder and managing director of Digital Uncut expands into the UK and talks to us about the acquisition.
You are the Managing Director of Digital Uncut – How would you summarise what Digital Uncut does/is?
In its simplest terms, data-driven digital marketing for scaling startups. We take startups who have a product-market fit and are looking to scale through paid ads (search, social & programmatic) and/or SEO and deliver these channels in the most growth-effective way possible.
What inspired you to go in to the digital marketing sector?
It all started with an internship on the Digital Media team at UNICEF while I was on a post-university gap year in Sydney. Having always been a numbers person, digital marketing just clicked with me.
However, my initial driver to launching a business was borne whilst studying Politics & Sociology at university. Feeling strongly about supporting charities, I concluded that to have the biggest impact would be to actually earn money to donate to them, rather than work in them.
At what point did you feel ready to launch Digital Uncut?
Having started my professional career at an agency, then moving to a startup, it was clear there was a gap between what agencies typically offer and what startups need, and I was keen to bridge that gap. I started off as a freelancer, working evenings and weekends outside of my day job, until I earnt enough to cover my rent. At that point I made the jump, knowing I’d have more time to find more work.
You have recently been acquired by international digital consultancy, Eskimoz – why did you decide to sell Digital Uncut?
It was all because we found the right buyer, or should I say they found us. Tom, the General Manager of Eskimoz, reached out to me via a message on LinkedIn. We set up a call and their vision really resonated with me. I didn’t have any plans to sell the agency before this.
Was it always your goal to grow your business for sale?
No, if you’d asked me this before I met Andrea and Tom from Eskimoz, I’d have told you I will never sell it. It was only in meeting them in person and learning about how we shared both a future vision of an agency and values in how to run it, that I knew it was the right business to sell to, so we could work together on it.
You are staying on as Managing Director – How will the acquisition affect your role?
To start with it means I’ll have a boss. That’s what most people think of, however, for me, it’s really more colleagues that I can work with to grow the agency. The other side is in working to ensure both agencies integrate together well.
How will it affect the growth of Digital Uncut?
The shared vision we have is to become Europe’s leading performance marketing agency. To do this means growing significantly in the UK so our plans are to invest notably in Digital Uncut to speed up growth next year.
I look forward to working closely with the Eskimoz senior leadership team to establish the group’s presence here in the UK, while achieving accelerated business growth by doubling revenue within the next two years. Across the group we have plans in place to employ an additional 100 digital marketing consultants and grow turnover to £50 million within the next 24 months.
You have moved from your team of 20 to 130+ staff in the ‘new look’ Digital Uncut – what difference will this make to the culture of the business?
Digital Uncut and Eskimoz have the same values, I think this is crucial for any acquisition to work, and of course makes the integration easier. With the majority of the staff in Paris, at least initially we’ll remain 20 in the UK. So culturally we wouldn’t expect too many changes, but of course the planned growth will impact this.
What has been the most challenging aspect for you since the acquisition?
The most challenging part has been in explaining to and working with the team to ensure they are comfortable. Any acquisition can create uncertainty for employees and so I have always been considerate in ensuring we try to be as transparent and communicative as possible. So far, the feedback has been positive, so I like to think it’s going well.
What are the core goals for Digital Uncut in 2023?
Apart from the growth plans, we want to take the integration slowly, so this will be a theme throughout 2023 for us, ensuring we’re aligned with sales, HR, and other processes. The main aim of this is to set us up for further growth in 2024.
In the short term we’re able to leverage the Eskimoz team’s experience and capacity to better serve our clients, and then we’re expecting growth. We’ll be putting a lot into our own sales and marketing to increase our agency size and deliver data-driven marketing to more businesses across the UK
Do you have any stand out tips for entrepreneurs looking to sell their business?
Ensure you have a good advisor. Selling a business is a whole area of expertise and it’s easy to make costly mistakes. Finding a professional advisor can be completely worth it.
What makes you tick/happy in business?
Growth is the biggest driver. I love seeing the impact of our work on our client’s growth as well as our own. Being able to do things bigger and better as a result. It’s exciting and addicting.