Profile: Man of the markets - Howard Kosky, managing director, markettiers4DC

There's something of the market trader about Howard Kosky. Not least because his career has included a stint selling jeans on a stall in London's Elephant and Castle. 'The walks of life that you meet in a market are incredible,' he says.

Now, ten years after co-founding The Market Tiers, the 36-year-old's broadcast PR business counts 58 staff and has been growing at a rate of about 30 per cent each year. Kosky, whose ancestory is Polish and Russian, went to a 'basic' state school in Edgware before graduating from City University with a politics and economics degree in 1989.

'I was being groomed to become a chartered accountant but I hated it,' he recalls. 'Politics intrigued me.' Kosky was featured in a BBC Three programme in March on the effects Margaret Thatcher had on people. The series introduced Kosky as a 'Londoner and a self-made millionaire'.

It also noted that he believes the former prime minister was an 'inspiration'.

Long-time friend Al Clarke, who is head of communications at Ferrari importer Maranello Concessionaires, says: 'Howard is into working hard and playing hard. He could run anything and would be capable of out-spinning Philip Green. He has the right attitude to make money and keep it.'

Kosky's media career started with radio PR firm EMR, where he was a director.

In 1994, Kosky and three others founded The Market Tiers and its first client was Do It All, for which it did a series of radio interviews.

The company was soon bought by Photobition Group and, two years later, Kosky was named managing director of the media division. 'My role changed from being very creative to overseeing the plc, which saw its share price multiply by several times,' he says.

In 1998, Kosky launched 4th Dimension Communications (4DC) to target the then emerging online arena. In 2000 the two were merged to form markettiers4dc.

But after several years in a non-creative role he bought the merged company through a 'stressful' six-month deal. 'Since the MBO in 2001 I've had the best years of my life,' he says. In 2002 he launched consumer survey operation Tickbox.net, which he says undercuts rivals YouGov and NOP, offering a sample of 1,000 people within 48 hours.

Kosky is excited by the emergence of on-demand TV and radio. He says that the internet and technologies such as Sky Plus, which allows users to watch TV programmes when they want, are doing 'massive favours for us'.

Not only does on-demand turn the viewer or listener into a scheduler, it means ads can be avoided. Kosky is banking on the expectation that brands will have to tap into content to make an impression. 'We work within content,' he says. 'The future is brand-funded programming.'

Earlier this year the firm launched webchats.tv, which enables PROs to stage TV chat shows online. It also runs web chats for clients, which Kosky claims are a combination of Trisha, This Morning and Panorama. 'We are in talks with three major corporates about doing series for them,' he says. As part of markettiers4DC growth he wants to provide websites such as AOL and Yahoo with editorial for clients, along with the work the firm does to get radio airtime.

Kosky criticises the PR industry for failing to use the same strategy that it uses for print - courting journalists over time - in radio.

'The PR industry is guilty of not having a strategy for radio,' he adds.

'People don't tailor the packages to fit the media client.'

When he is not engrossed in football - Kosky is a keen Arsenal and England follower - he flies helicopters. 'That is an adrenalin rush,' he says.

Family, too, is a big factor in his life. On top of being a workaholic, Kosky's weekend is taken up by his six-year-old daughter while his 71-year-old father is employed by the firm as a driver.

When asked to name his business idol, he opts for Amstrad Computers founder and former Tottenham Hotspur chairman Alan Sugar. 'Sugar started with nothing on a market stall in the East End.' Rings a bell.

RESUME

1990 Director, EMR

1994 Founding director, The Market Tiers

1995 MD, The Market Tiers bought by Photobition Group

1997 MD of media division (including The Market Tiers), Photobition

Group

2001 MD, markettiers4DC, following management buyout

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