I still can’t quite believe that we’re hurtling towards EAST VILLAGE.’s 10-year anniversary. A whole decade of leading this business that I love… and getting a shed load of grey hairs along the way to prove it!
Over the next couple of months, I will no doubt look back on our first decade and pull out some of the highlights, as well as some learnings along the way. Any other founders reading this will understand me when I say that we rarely take the time to stop, re-group, and look back at what we’ve actually achieved. It’s a sadistic gene in us that avoids considering *actual* success, and instead seems to push the challenging times to the forefront in order to encourage us to keep going.
But 10 years… wow. It has been quite the ride. Leading up to September, I’ve been thinking about what I want the next 10 years to look like – and what I’d like to leave behind in this decade.
At the start of the year, I mapped out a vision for the team that focused on three key areas: developing our team, elevating our reputation, and achieving commercial success. That’s given me a great starting point for how I want to start the next 10 years of EAST VILLAGE. and what I’d like us to focus on.
I’m always conscious of my role to set the vision and excite the team. Sometimes this can be challenging when you’re navigating pandemics, near-recessions, constant negative headlines, troublesome colleagues, and everything that comes with running a small but ambitious business. And yet – I am so proud of the culture that sits inside this agency and the passion that we all bring each and every day. I feel like we’ve been through (sometimes tricky) teenage years and now have the opportunity to graduate from school like the badasses that we are.
With that in mind, I’ve really taken stock of what the team is brilliant at and – most importantly – loves to deliver. As a people-first agency, we love:
- A strong founder story and the ability to build someone’s reputation and industry credibility
- Working alongside smaller businesses, especially founders and leadership teams who see the direct impact of positive PR
- To be part of a business growth story, working alongside ambitious brand owners
- Being part of a wider ecosystem of support, showcasing the value of PR and playing advocates for our clients
As we delve into this more, we’ve found over the past year or so that our ‘sweet spot’ lies with scale-ups on their growth journey. Where PR matters most: engaging customers, grabbing the attention of stakeholders, and positioning founders as experts in their field. More specifically, we’ve built a strong footprint in the tech industry, building on our existing experience working with the likes of Birmingham Enterprise Community (BEC), Cake Agency, and Giant Digital. This year alone has seen us start working with Tech West Midlands (previously Birmingham Tech) and support a number of start-ups, including Supabite, Funding Hero, and OPPi.
A running theme for us is always making tech more human, not less: using it to better understand people, not replace them. We put people at the heart of the benefits of technology, which aligns perfectly with how we operate as a business. Looking at what we’ve always cared about as an agency: equity, empowerment, and a better way to work remain at the centre of our team culture. So, it’s no surprise that we started to see an obvious niche carve out for us.
Niching feels brave, especially in this current climate, but as we approach double digits it’s the right thing for us to do. So here we are, announcing it to the world!
This isn’t just about any tech though, it’s what I’m coining as “sexy tech” – tech brands that empower people, platforms that promote a healthy tech/life balance, and organisations that feed the ecosystem. Those exciting FemTech, HealthTech, and Tech For Good brands that are making moves and genuinely changing the world.
We can see a huge opportunity for us to play our part in helping to create a more equitable and inclusive landscape, specifically for underrepresented founders of these emerging tech businesses. The recent Rose Review 2023, an independent review of female entrepreneurship, states that less than 1% of UK funding goes to all-female teams. Similarly, research by Extend Ventures uncovered that all-ethnic teams receive an average of just 1.7% of the venture capital investments at seed, early, and late-stage.
Those statistics are shocking, and we have to join the mission to do something about them! What could align more than being an agency that wants to face the inequalities of the tech sector head on, helping to position, empower, and amplify the stories of diverse founders?! It has “EAST VILLAGE.” written all over it.
So, as we move closer towards our Birthday celebrations in September, we’ve been bold and brave by announcing this new direction for EAST VILLAGE. We have so many exciting plans coming up – more than just PR, we want to help tackle bias, improve access to funding and mentors, and get more role models into the media.
Bring it on!