An award-winning communications company whose clients include StreetGames and Kiddicare, Capella RR have 'aggressive growth plans', says rugby-loving co-founder Gareth Thomas.

Since Gareth and his business partner Nia Evans launched Capella PR in 2012, they have landed some big-name clients as well as a host of early-stage, disruptive brands like Fox & Rose, Zapp and cloud.IQ.  Gareth talked to us about winning Small Agency of the Year, and what the future holds for his business. 

Tell us a bit about yourself...

Rugby-mad, seafood-loving, entrepreneurial dad of three.

Tell us about your business...

Capella is a PR and digital agency, helping clients across the sport, tech and retail sectors get attention in traditional and social media. We offer the kind of strategic thinking you’d get from the biggest agencies (at which we’ve worked) with a small-agency focus on creativity and value for money.

Business-wise, what are you most proud of?

We’ve run some brilliant campaigns for our clients over the past 18 months – campaigning on issues as varied as modern parenting, the future of money, gay rights, and inspiring disadvantaged youngsters through sport. Last week we were awarded Small Agency of the Year by our industry – not bad going so early in our company’s life. But the thing that makes me most proud is seeing our team of consultants continue to develop their skills and expertise, while growing in their personal lives too. We have a great bunch of people who are friends as well as colleagues.

What have been your biggest business challenges?

I started the business with Nia Evans in July 2012. We started with no clients thanks to very strict ‘no-touch’ contracts, so for us it’s all been about convincing companies to take a chance on a new agency. We’ve been pretty successful – we now have 12 retained and five project clients. The fact we’ve kept our ‘pitch promises’ has helped reassure people they made the right call.

Where do you see Capella PR in a year's time? In three years’ time?

Our mantra is ‘think big, start small’. That's why we already have lots of processes in place that you might not find in many smaller agencies. Our bank manger said he works with 20-year-old companies that haven’t got the kind of structures in place that we have. We want to hit our first £1 million of fees within three years and have an aggressive growth plan after that. We have a simple formula for achieving that goal: hire the best people, who 'get' digital, are results focused and want to be part of a fast-growing agency; then deliver amazing business outcomes for clients so they tell everyone they know how brilliant we are. So far it's working.

What are the most important trends in PR and digital communications?

Digital remains a big growth driver – we are running campaigns that integrate traditional media, social networks and web apps that are delivering amazing results for clients. Building digital into campaigns also helps you track and measure the impact of what you’re doing and allows you to report on business outcomes rather than just campaign outputs.

If you weren’t top dog at Capella PR, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be a little less stressed, but at the same time I’d be kicking myself for not taking the leap and running my own gig.

Who would you ask (dead or alive) to be a dream member on your board of directors?

Warren Gatland (Wales and British & Irish Lions rugby manager). Strategic and tactical master.

What are the most important things for you in an office space? What's your office luxury?

We go for an open-plan style with no offices and no egos. So we need a space that suits that, with lots of natural light. Super-fast broadband is a must and having restaurants, bars and so on on our doorstep is very helpful (we work hard but play hard too!). We’re still very much in startup mode, so we don’t really go in for luxuries. For us, getting cleaners was a treat – we used to empty our bins ourselves! Oh, the glamour of PR…

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