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By Tom,

Catching up with Net Natives

Net Natives, led by Brixton boy Steve Evans, are one of the UK’s leading digital marketing agencies and have been a top client of ours for a while now. They are a team of social networking evangelists who have managed to succeed where so many have failed by harnessing of the lucrative, yet elusive, marketing power of Facebook. Largely thanks to BigTop, their very own software which is currently being licensed out to other marketing agencies, the guys are able to carefully collect and analyse massive amounts of data with ease and, as a result, are targeting the right people with the right marketing campaigns, improving efficiency all round.

Steve’s formative working years were spent in the cut throat world of recruiting, working for various firms throughout the 90s and early 2000s. He had some very entertaining stories for us from his early years as a recruiter in the heady, and often financially lucrative days, of the early 90s, some of which were more than a little bit reminiscent of Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street. He mentioned one particularly awful firm, which we won’t name, whose management team would routinely gaffer tape telephone receivers to the hands of those with poor numbers, withhold the privilege of sitting down until a decent lead had been secured, and employ no women; except, of course, for the poor, longsuffering secretaries whose interviews apparently consisted of being marched, like death row convicts on their way to the execution chamber, through the middle of the vast, jam-packed office whilst employees, under the instruction of their superiors, unleashed a primal tirade of wolf-whistles, catcalls, boos, jeers and taunts on the poor, unsuspecting applicants. If they made it to the far side of the office without fleeing the building in tears, they were offered a job. Thankfully Steve chose not to emulate this particular style of management in his own company.

Our own relationship with Steve and Net Natives began a few years back. He’d been referred to us by a friend and was keen to find out more about what it is we do. Over drinks, we explained to him the countless benefits of becoming a Partnership and before long, thanks to Steve’s enthusiastic engagement with the new model, a complete adoption of the LLP structure was underway at Net Natives. Steve’s never looked back. He now rewards committed employees of the limited company, after one year of service, with an invitation to become a Partner of the Net Natives LLP. He also holds regular meetings with the whole team, including non-members (or yet-to-be-invited-members as Steve sees them), to discuss, in a democratic fashion, present and future concerns and interests of the business. On top of this, he rewards his Partners with shares in the profits when the company performs well which really helps drive home the idea that all team members are equally responsible for the success of the company as a whole. In other words, if you work hard then you are rewarded in a way that reflects your hard work. Simple. This helps put further distance between our Partnership ethos and the outdated, and frankly oppressive, employer/employee model which we are so keen to distance both ourselves and, by extension, our clients from.

We had the pleasure of meeting up with Steve last Thursday for a general catch up. He was proud to show us their newly acquired office space, complete with ping pong table, dining area and allegorical wall mural (see photo). Upon our arrival, much of Steve’s team were chatting happily over a rather speedy lunch as, we were amused to learn, our little visit happened to fall on their busiest day of the year: A Level results day or, more importantly for the team at Net Natives, Clearing Day; when thousands of eager students, having missed out on or decided against their original choices, find themselves searching frantically for suitable course vacancies and who can now find a welcome helping hand in the Net Natives guys. In spite of the busyness, the atmosphere at the office was calm but focused. Some were busy talking on phones and tapping away on keyboards whilst others were allowing themselves a brief timeout to tuck into a rather impressive pile of takeaway pizzas sat in the middle of the office. Oh yeah, and we are pleased to report that there was no gaffer tape in sight although, to be fair, Steve did know we were coming.

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