Start-up story: Spey

How I started Spey

Nothing that communications agency Spey create is ‘off the shelf’ – and with a background which includes working on Scotland’s referendum campaign, Jennifer Robertson knows pressure.

BQ and Atom Bank are hosting the inaugural National Entrepreneur Festival at the Boiler Shop in Newcastle upon Tyne on 21 November 2017.

The festival will see the presenting of the Emerging Entrepreneur Awards, which will highlight the tenacity, creativity, innovation and determination of the nation’s entrepreneurs.

And remember, you can still get your tickets for the festival, here.

Tell us about your business, what does it do?

Spey is an independent full service progressive creative communications agency harnessing a deep understanding of cultural trends and technologies. We provide strategic counsel backed-up with powerful creative muscle. Nothing we create is off the shelf. Our services include public relations, data and digital, content marketing, experiential, brand engagement and corporate communications. Our customers include The BenRiach Distillery, Glenglassaugh Distillery, GlenDronach Distillery, The Malt Whisky Trail, Loch Fyne Oysters Ltd, Dualchas Architects and Hebridean Homes. Our principal markets are food and drink, creative industries, tourism and hospitality. Our home in Moray Speyside is the springboard for our business, but we service clients across Scotland and the UK.

What did you do before you started this business?

Formerly I was Head of PR for Scotland’s referendum campaign, Special Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland and a spokesperson,  Director at Weber Shandwick Scotland, as well as former columnist for the Scotsman, Courier and Scotland on Sunday. I managed communications for brands and organisations on a global stage and delivers integrated communications programmes that deliver with emotion and impact. With extensive experience across food and drink brands in particular working with clients such as Malt Whisky Trail, Jim Beam, Loch Fyne Oysters Edinburgh Gin, Harviestoun Brewery, Drygate Brewery and  Brown-Forman

What inspired you to start up?

I decided to establish a creative communications agency in Aberlour because Moray Speyside is the heartland of Scotch malt whisky, an area widely recognised as a global luxury goods hub and home to half of Scotland's Walpole registered companies. I moved to the area in 2015 and after commuting down the A9 to Edinburgh to work as a director of a food and drink PR agency for almost a year, I quickly realised that the heart of food and drink in Scotland was on my own doorstep. Spey is a full-service creative communications agency which provides senior level advice, leveraging a large but underserved market and provides a globally minded service headquartered in the world capital of whisky, Speyside. Time’s have changed and what’s important is that agencies are connected to the areas they operate, not where their office  is. Spey is proving that local can be global whilst providing jobs and opportunities where there wasn’t before.  My vision is for a progressive, creative business  which retains and attracts talent to a beautiful yet rural area and captures and supports the growth of a growing confidence in Moray Speyside which is rich in industry, talent and natural resources.

How would you describe your business to a novice?

A full service PR & marketing agency that specialises in consumer communications campaigns across all media platforms.

Where do you get advice, support or help?

I have a mentor as part of the Women Enterprise Scotland mentoring programme,  who is Petra Wetzel, founder and Managing Director of WEST Brewery in Glasgow. She provides great advice and is a leader in her field so an honour to have her as my mentor.

Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?

I didn’t! All I started with was my ideas, energy and ambition.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Winning the UK account for Brown-Forman’s three Scotch brands in April, beating some of the UK’s top agencies.

How do you differentiate your business from others?

As far as we are aware, we are the only full-service creative communications agency north of Perth

What’s it like to be your own boss?

Rewarding and challenging in equal measure!

Where do you see your business in 5 years time?

One of Scotland’s top creative communications agencies recognised for its cutting edge work which makes a creative point of difference, with the heads of my team seen as leaders in their field.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

Don’t drive looking in the rear view mirror.

Why did you enter the BQ Emerging Entrepreneur Awards?

For a chance for the hard-work of my team to be recognised and that recognition to help grow my business.

What would it mean to you to win an award?

Being an entrepreneur can be rewarding and challenging in equal measure, but to have the recognition that you are on the right path, creating jobs and opportunities where there wasn’t before,  would give a huge boost to myself and my dedicated team, as well as help put our young but ambitious agency on the map.

For more information on the event, click here.