Ask our non-execs: Mark Kuhillow

Nick Jaspan
07.03.24 11:14 AM Comment(s)
AgencyNXD is launching a new series where we ask our talented team of non-execs a few brief questions about how they got to where they are and what they believe they can offer our growing pool of ambitious agencies. 

We kick off with one of our newest non-execs Mark Kuhillow who takes a slightly tongue in cheek approach to answering our questions.  Mark sold his performance marketing agency R.O.EYE in 2021 to global group AWIN and is an active investor and non-exec. 

Mark - how did you start your journey in the Marcoms world?

I started my journey in the Marcoms world after leaving school without any qualifications. I spent two years selling ad space for Auto Trader, then decided that I would like a broader commercial role. So, I managed to get on Mindshare’s (an operation within global media group WPP)  dedicated TV planning and buying graduate training program. Spent a couple of years there and then got headhunted by another global media group, this time Dentsu and its MediaVest operation. 

I was recruited specifically to launch the online part of the business because it bizarrely seems that I was going to be their first person in the agency buying online space in the late nineties....and the rest was history!

You worked for and learned from others before deciding to do your own thing. What was or were the factors that compelled you to want to have a go for yourself?

I saw how much money I was making for other people – simply that! 

So I asked the managing partners of my last agency if they would give me equity. They looked at me as if I was mental, but they told me they would give me a seat on the Board. After attending my first Board meeting later that month, I resigned the next day and started planning for R.O.EYE immediately.

Running a business can be lonely. How did you reach out for advice when you felt it could be useful?

Well one of the reasons I’m here on AgencyNXD is that I've always been a great fan of consultants and seeking advice from other experienced people. My philosophy and modus operandi are simple - I believe what goes around comes around. If you help others, others will help you and that is pretty much my model.

Did you always plan to sell your agency?

Yup - from the very first day I opened it.

Building, managing and ultimately exiting an agency requires several different skill sets. What advice can you share with ambitious Marcoms bosses who also seek to grow and sell their businesses?

I think the days of running a media and marcoms agency were very different then to what they are now. 

These days you simply have to be tech enabled, whether or not you are actually tech enabled or you're a tech agency that offers Marcom services. 

I think AI opens the door to be able to be a lot smarter and more efficient than legacy agencies, even ones that only set up just five years ago. I think you start with an equal focus on tech and commerce and then like everything, it's just about building a great team.

You started out in sales and then transferred to media before creating your own performance agency which you sold. Your skills span sales, strategy and scaling up. What sorts of businesses are you most interested in advising through AgencyNXD?

The only advisory work I do and also 50% of my angel investments are in agencies. 

I'm very interested in the agencies which do what the old fashioned ones did, which is, well, direct response or brand response. And I'm very interested in how they do it and how they use new platforms such as AI, indeed anything which is not a mainstream social platform or PPC or SEO. 

And I'm also very interested in anything that involves creator content and user generated content, in ways which can be monetized and scaled.
And I would say those represent the agencies I'm typically involved with.

Thank you Mark.