Hargreaves exits Beyond to launch consultancy

Beyond CEO David Hargreaves has stepped down from his role at the agency to create a company called BrandGarage, which is focused on connecting brands with startups.

SAN FRANCISCO: Beyond CEO David Hargreaves has stepped down from his role at the agency to create a company called BrandGarage, which is focused on connecting brands with startups.

Hargreaves, who had served as chief executive at Beyond since the firm's inception in 2010, left the Next Fifteen agency after taking a three-month sabbatical in mid-August 2013, he said. The holding company allows employees to take a sabbatical every five years, and Hargreaves, who had worked at the group for nearly a decade, had not done so until this past summer.

Hargreaves said that during his time off, he decided to do something new outside of the agency world, so he teamed up with Converge Labs founder Mark Evans and BlueRun Ventures partner Cheryl Cheng to launch BrandGarage. Evans is serving as managing partner at the company, and Hargreaves and Cheng are partners. The agency, which is not affiliated with Next Fifteen, officially launched at the start of the year.

Beyond EMEA MD Nick Rappolt has taken the helm of Beyond as CEO, confirmed Next Fifteen chief executive Tim Dyson, who said he is “excited about [Hargreaves'] new venture.”

“It's a very clever concept that has a lot of potential,” he added, via email. “Because of that, we've been talking with the three partners about a whole range of ways we can collaborate. We hope to have an agreement on what that looks like shortly.”

The concept for BrandGarage came from Hargreaves seeing that all brands are trying to innovate in the marketing space in unique ways, and “the usual solution to an agency is to pitch building a big, shiny thing,” he explained.

“So many interesting startups are doing so many interesting things, but a lot of them don't have the distribution or a way of getting those platforms or products into the market,” Hargreaves added. “It seems like a really good opportunity to help brands innovate and at the same time help startups get market traction for their products and services.”

BrandGarage is initially focusing on CMOs as a key audience and using technology to solve their marketing problems. Then the firm will engage brands to see how they can tap into the startup community.

The company, located in San Francisco, is planning to hire three staffers in the near future, as well as to expand its footprint, said Hargreaves. In about three months, BrandGarage will work with a company in New York on an initiative, and it is planning an effort in London later this year.

While BrandGarage has been approached by agencies to sell its services to clients through the firms, Hargreaves said he and his team “don't want to operate behind the scenes.”

Hargreaves' departure is the latest of a string of high-profile personnel changes at Next Fifteen and its agencies. The holding company, which saw a 65% year-over-year drop in pre-tax profit for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2013, to about $3.37 million, appointed former Bell Pottinger and 19 Entertainment finance chief Peter Harries to serve as interim CFO in November. David Dewhurst was previously the company's financial chief.

Last April, Bite CEO Andy Cunningham stepped down from her role to focus on SeriesC, the marketing consultancy she founded in 2012. In September, Bite brought on Sean Mills, former SVP in Edelman's New York technology practice, to serve as regional director for North America.

M Booth named Ketchum veteran Dale Bornstein CEO on October 1, when former chief executive Margi Booth assumed the role of chairman.

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