Mindspacers Unplugged: Nick Morgan, The Fair and We Are Placemaking

The director of two event production companies talks vigorous business strategy, setting realistic goals, and his love of nostalgic 80s tunes.

Written by Natasha Rose Gammell

2 years ago

From a former nightclub promoter to the CEO of two thriving companies, The Fair and We Are Placemaking, Nick Morgan shares how his vigorous business strategy brought him success. His team is set up at Mindspace Aldgate in London, where they brainstorm how to turn an event into a mind-blowing experience. For Nick, it’s important that the coworking way of life not only allows his team to join a community but that it allows them to help shape it.

Your company… Go!
There are two companies. One is The Fair and one is We Are PlacemakingThe Fair is a pure festival production company with a large H&S and risk mitigation department.  In 2017 we had 76 shows on our books from May right through to September. And We Are Placemaking is dedicated purely to public and private sector organisations within the property, retail and public realm, animating spaces through live experiences. We do three or four-year programs on various property developments like Grosvenor Estates and Hammerson curating various upscale large experiences. We produce everything from light festivals through to touring 8ft tall polycarbonate snails.  We are working on some amazing new experiences right now including an interactive Maze. We don’t just do a screening of Wimbledon, we’ll do a whole massive experience in order to increase dwell time, give that “instagrammable moment”. As many tenants pay rent through turnover it’s essential that their landlords invest in events and experiences to attract customers to schemes, increase dwell time and give a reason to come to a destination against the challenge of simple shopping online at home.

Did the company start out with The Fair or with We Are Placemaking?
The company Big Cat Group, which I own, split out into dedicated companies about three years ago. So The Fair is the oldest in terms of the new setups, and We Are Placemaking has been set up in the last six to eight months.

How did you get into the industry? How did it all start?
I was a nightclub promoter, years ago. So I used to promote my own nights to the point where we were doing about five or six nights a week and we were doing all the things we do now. We were marketing the event, booking talent and looking after people in the event. We were doing everything on a much smaller scale, whereas now we do it for no less than five or six thousand up to audiences in excess of 100,000.

The most important tip for startups.
We are very aggressive in our new business, which means setting a realistic goal and pushing to achieve it. It’s pretty unheard of in the service industry, but for the last three years, we’ve had between 90 and 96% growth year on year in terms of turnover. That is only because we are so aggressive in the market. We set our growth and make sure it’s planned five or six years and we’ve hit every single milestone on it. After people create business plans they often simply get filed and are not active documents. We have a lot of one-page documents of which I actively promote the business to use on a daily basis always reminding the team of our vision and growth metrics. So it’s important to be aggressive and to be constantly chasing a goal and having an active new business list. We built up a CRM from no people to now where we have 12,000 key stakeholders. I am a big believer in CRM. Lots of agencies in our space don’t have CRM. Instead, they wait for the phone to ring and that doesn’t happen anymore. Agencies, in my opinion, are often too generalist and I have spent a lot of time narrowing our proposition. All our prospects know exactly what we do and if they want our service they know we have that specialist experience hence our conversion rate is also high.

One mistake you made that you will never make again.
Extending too much credit to certain clients. For us, the leverage is the event, and post-event, that leverage is lost as the client has had their successful event so they can try and extend credit terms.

If you were not CEO ofThe Fair and We Are Placemaking, what would you be?
Currently, I mentor about five different businesses and I really enjoy that. I would love to help mentor startups and invest in them because I believe in them.

What are you listening to right now?
I listen to a lot of nostalgic 80s, but less cheese. And I listen to my discover weekly on Spotify, so it depends on what’s on that and it’s very varied. A lot of tech house at the moment as well and proper 90’s house (masters at work era)

If you could choose to have a dinner party with three people dead or alive, who would they be?
Some inspirational people from our industry and some of London’s scene influencers. Someone like an old-school promoter like Vince Power. Ronnie Kray, As I met many enforcers over the years but never them. I know James Heappey MP but he has never been to dinner and I would ask him to do more to promote the event industry within the UK as he sits on the parliamentary committee for events.  If they couldn’t make it, I have many others on my list.

What’s the one thing you look for when hiring?
For us, it’s all around cultural fit. I’d rather someone who is less skilled in that particular area, but has the right attitude and culture because we do work hard and long hours.

Why have you chosen Mindspace?
I chose Mindspace because it’s not overtly branded, like some potential other shared offices. The community is in a very embryonic stage and we want to be part of that journey from the beginning. I’m glad to have the opportunity to help shape it, rather than joining a community that is already established. The offices are also very convenient and very nice! We like the fact that it feels quite unique and it’s not standardized.  

Do you think that coworking is changing work culture? How do you think it is going to impact our future?
It is creating change and it leads to a great sense of community. It’s amazing for freelancers because you don’t want to be on your own and with coworking, there’s a sense of community and there are events to collaborate on.

What is your favorite spot at Mindspace?
I love the record player.

Three things you wish for your company this year.
Continued growth, higher attention, and to continue to succeed with all the existing client base. Having just won Production company of the year and Health and Safety company of the year at the Festival Supplier Awards, we want to go on to win awards at the Event Production Awards and also the Revo’s for the property industry.

Check out The Fair and We Are Placemaking

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