42 under 42: Five Years On

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Tomorrow night a brand new batch of rising business stars will be inducted into the North West Business insider 42 under 42 Class of 2018. It’s an exciting time for the young entrepreneurs involved, but I can’t help but wonder how many of the Class of 2018 are thinking “how the heck did I get here?”

Class of 2013

I say that because five years ago it’s exactly what running through my mind back in 2013, when I was announced as part of the North West Class of 2013 - just two years after setting up a digital development agency that went by the name of Studio Mashbo.

In case you’re not familiar the 42 under 42 is an event that showcases people from across the region that are set to become the next generation of successful business leaders and business owners.

I knew that myself, Steve Todd, our Technical Director and Liam Potter, our Creative Director, had worked hard. We’d grown our team, won a few big clients and made sure that we were helping others in creative and digital community. However, I was still baffled as to how our fledgling agency was suddenly sat at the same table as business leaders from some of the region’s biggest brands.

Incredible Opportunity

I soon realised (after I’d got over the shock and imposter syndrome) that rather than “how the heck did I get here?” I should be asking “what do I do now I am here?”

Unlike some other awards, a place in the 42s isn’t a vanity accolade; it’s an incredible opportunity - but only if you make the most of it.

It is access to a peer group with years of experience to draw on (from those that have been in business longer than you) and insight based on approaching business in a whole new way (from those coming up the ranks now).

Confidence to Grow

For Mashbo, my being one of the the year’s 42 under 42 immediately widened our network. It gave us access to events that we may never have even known existed (and if we did we probably wouldn’t have been let in), allowing us to make new connections and access knowledge from diverse sources.

It gave us people to bat ideas off and learn from, people who understood the challenges of managing a rapidly growing business. But more than anything - for both the business and myself personally - it gave us the confidence to grow.

Five Years On

Five years on Mashbo is approaching its seventh birthday, our team has continued to grow and evolve and we’re working with even bigger clients who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of technology. We’ve invested time and money into our community brand, Creative Kitchen, to encourage knowledge sharing between agencies, businesses and freelancers in the sector.

But we’ve seen some big changes too. The onset of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ has changed the landscape of our business completely. While our foundations still lie in design-based web development, new technology has seen us emerge as a software development consultancy, using automation and artificial intelligence build solutions that improve the productivity, capability and profitability of our clients’ businesses.

If there’s any advice I can give to the Class of 2018 it’s to embrace the opportunity and make the most of your new-found network; don’t fear change, work with it and - perhaps most importantly - give the next generation a leg-up.