Mash & Watu
Jules and Phil – the ‘kick-ass’ philanthropists
Julian Johnson and Phil Edelston got into promo marketing at uni. It quickly became a full-time thing. The determined duo started out in 2004 with just 4k of capital, working out of a coffee shop in South East London. These days their company, Mash Marketing, manages experiential campaigns for big brands like Samsung as well as thousands of event and promo staff every year. They have an office now too – ‘Mash Towers’ in London Bridge. Emblazoned in neon is a sign on the wall there that says ‘Because 99 isn’t 100’ – a reminder to everyone exactly what it is that they are all striving for.
Using tech to get ahead and do the right thing
The secret to their success is finding better ways to do things without increasing the cost to the client. Both Jules and Phil have always been interested in technology. Right from the start they saw many ways that they could change staffing in the promo industry using the latest tech. They have been developing and using their own home grown systems with fantastic results for many years now. But Mash Marketing isn’t just about combining efficiency with ‘kick-ass customer service’. It’s also about doing the right thing.
Jules and Phil love giving back. They believe that being able to earn a living as they do also brings a degree of responsibility to help those less fortunate than themselves. For every job that Mash Marketing wins they promise to contribute a $25.00 micro loan to a third world entrepreneur through Kiva. Actions speak louder than words they say. So far, Mash has put its money where its mouths is to the tune of $27,000 and has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs along the way.
Jules and Phil also love their people. They decided to make a difference to their staff (affectionately known as the ‘Mashers’) and help them earn a bit more money by improving their own internal expenses processes. Sparked by an idea presented by OC in 2010, Mash decided to help their staff offset their daily travel and subsistence expenses against tax to increase their take home pay by a few quid each month. Even though it’s a technical and time consuming thing to do for hundreds of people every month, the guys decided it was a good thing and immediately set about finding a better way to do it. The joint love of tech shared by both OC and Mash gave birth, there and then, to the idea for OC’s flagship product, Paycircle.
The social media frenzy and the road to recovery
Mash Marketing were introduced to OC in 2010 after entrepreneur coach, Peter Miller-Smith, recommended the two companies talk. Mash was in recovery mode. In 2007 the business had taken a surprise hit and was subsequently struggling to get back on course. After 3 consecutive years of success and sustained growth it was in 2007 that brand managers started to slash their experiential budgets in favour of Facebook campaigns. Everyone had jumped on the social media bandwagon and, although it was short-lived, it was a tough time for everyone in the experiential industry.
There were a few agency casualties during this period and, although Mash Marketing wasn’t one of them, the guys decided that they needed to be in better financial shape going forward.
For 3 months OC worked alongside the directors and the finance team to help restructure Mash and make the business more financially robust. Within twelve months Mash was cash-positive again and in a position to expand. First stop was Australia. Two years on and Mash are opening offices in New York and Brazil and Jules is working on a new venture called Watu.
Watu, which means people in Swahili, is an online workforce management application that simplifies job scheduling and management for temporary staffing agencies. It’s only been around a few months but take-up has already been huge.