That initial idea for Sharper was first conceived in the summer of 2018. The country was gripped by a heatwave, England had made it to a world cup semi-final, that group of lads and their football coach had been successfully rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand, and Russ Powell - eventual Founder and MD of Sharper - was getting more and more frustrated with the realties of life as a client-side B2B marketer.
It's a frustration that had been brewing for a while. There are only so many times you can see creative ideas get shot down in favour of the bland and safe, see the budgets for and expectations of marketing move in ever more inversely proportional directions, see ridiculous KPIs and Metrics lauded as an indication of success ("The prospect completed a form fill. Amazing. Log it as a £100m opportunity." That actually happened), be asked to "sprinkle some marketing magic on this", or try to work with agencies (and the account manager you've got this week) who either just don't get it or care enough to try and get it before you've got to take a stand.
And Sharper is that stand. It's why Sharper's mission is to make B2B marketing as a whole more creative, more valued, and more commercially successful. And it's also the reason that as Sharper grows it will only do so by bringing onboard experienced client-side marketers who also get what it's like and want to change things for the better.
Now, although the idea and approach was crystallised in that sweaty summer at the end of the 'teens' and finessed over time, Sharper didn't shoot kicking and screaming into the world until a few years later. This was due to a number of factors, the primary one being that with a young family to support Russ didn't want to plunge into the world of financial uncertainty that so many independent agencies exist in. But when the perfect storm of unexpected redundancy, actual storm Dennis, and a global pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020 all options to keep the good ship Powell afloat needed to be considered.
Fortunately Russ had built up a pretty decent and very supportive network on LinkedIn and having secured himself a new job in just 3 weeks due to redundancy less than a year before (yep, 2 redundancies in the space of 10 month. #winning) he was hoping lightning would strike twice.
And strike it did.
Through happenstance, coincidence, or serendipity (but of course you create you own luck) Russ got chatting to Dom Hawes, CEO of Selbey Anderson, let it be known that he was on the hunt for a job and asked if he had need for a B2B marketer who'd been around the block a few times. It turns out he did. After a few more calls with Dom and Simon Quarendon, COO of Selbey Anderson offers were made, virtual hand shakes were done, and Russ - along with the business plan for Sharper that had been sat in his back pocket all this time - were part of the Selbey Anderson family.
Launching a new business in the middle of global pandemic and nation-wide lock down presents it's own specific challenges. The dreams of corner offices, fancy lunches, and sealing deals in shiny board rooms feel a million light years away when you're either sitting at a trestle table in a shed or on a bed (using a tray and a copy of Louis Theroux's autobiography as a makeshift desk). But that's what Russ did.
Things got off to a flying start though, with SCC and NetApp brought in as the first client(s) shortly after launch followed by a variety of other B2B and Tech brands both big and small as word got out, momentum built and Sharper picked up a proper head of steam. In the "new normal" of working remotely and doing almost everything digitally, Sharper thrived. In fact it was over 100 days after launch before Russ met another member of the Selbey Anderson family face-to-face (a lovely tapas lunch with Dom and Simon).
In that time employee number one had also been hired. Following a big of slick salesmanship on LinkedIn by Russ and a socially distanced interview on a park bench, all-round superstar marketer, Vicki Chown (or as she is fondly known, Ricky Chow) took a chance on Sharper, joined as Head of Client Success and has been absolutely smashing it ever since.
And that's how things continue today.
Just Russ and Vicki absolutely smashing it for Sharper's clients, ensuring that B2B marketing is seen as more creative, more valued and more commercially successful.
Want to be part of the Sharper story too? Just drop us a line and let's have a chat.