Inside the MD’s office: Rogo Scott15 December 2016
The story of how one finds themselves as a significant figure in the media industry is always one to fascinate. Seldom do you find an innovator who has planned such a route from an early age. Ben Clasper and Peter Cook, joint-managing directors of Rogo Scott, are no different.
Clasper studied film and drama at the University of Kent, initially beginning his career in film production. “I hated it!” he says with a wry smile. “I quickly moved across into film distribution, which is where I really got into the business side. I pretended to enjoy the creative side, but it didn’t really make me tick – show me some box office figures to analyse, however, and I’ll burn the candle at both ends!”
Clasper spent just over two years in this space before moving to Counterpoint in 1998. He became an integral cog over 16 years, starting out as product manager and rising to senior vice president before the company was acquired by Vistex. At this stage, it was time to move on. “By then I had taken on a far more consultative and strategic role, which was considerably more interesting to me,” he explains. “I chose not to stick around when Vistex came knocking, and started up Rogo Scott in 2014.”
The newly-founded company was in place to provide strategic services to the media industry. Clasper began helping small companies with their projects – and that’s where Cook came in.
Not dissimilar to his counterpart, Cook studied drama at the University of the West of England, working in TV and stage for a time before taking on a role at Morrisons as area finance and projects manager. “I quickly realised that it wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Cook explains. “I had ambitions in the media industry, so I upped sticks and moved to London.” Cook took on roles with ITV and the English National Opera, culminating in a six-year stint at Turner Broadcasting. Starting off as a presentation coordinator, Cook rose through the ranks to work on what Turner call ‘special projects’ with EMEA and the international business. “I was very lucky in that I gathered a lot of experience on how the media industry works in a short space of time,” says Cook.
Opting for voluntary redundancy in 2012, Cook left Turner to set up his own company – CookMedia, with a very similar mandate to what we see at Rogo Scott today. “About two years in, I heard about Ben and his company, so I got in touch.”
“He was worried about the competition!” smirks Clasper. “We’d both started up companies with the same objective, and it made sense to get Peter on board – which is why he’s here as joint managing director.”
The pair had previously worked together on a rights management project in 2013, when Cook was working for himself. “I knew our strengths and weaknesses,” Clasper says. “When companies bring me in, they rely on me to choose the best strategy, or come up with an entirely new one, and to be in governance, somewhat. The number one gap in my skill set when starting Rogo Scott was formal project and programme management, and I knew Peter was more than capable of filling it.”
The vision leading to the creation of Rogo Scott was to build a company that didn’t exist in the market. “We wanted a company that’s not an enormous consultancy like PwC or Deloitte, and to create something purely staffed by people from the media industry,” explains Clasper. In its initial hiring process, Rogo Scott built a skill set in every area they wanted to work in, and it grew very, very rapidly. “We only really started properly in May 2015,” says Cook. “We’re up to a dozen people now, and the company has grown 300-400 per cent in the last year. We achieved in one year what we set out to do in three. We very much feel that we’re at this junction now where a five-year plan becomes a two-year plan and we’re constantly looking towards what’s happening.”
Clasper barely appears to be bending the truth when he says that Rogo Scott had to be started in “four minutes flat”. He explains, “My first contract had to go through the client’s head office, stipulating that I had to have a limited company, and it had to be set up by tomorrow! That was understandably somewhat rushed, so I could start trading, and the brand sort of just got parked as it was, as I started taking on clients rather than focusing on the brand visuals and the marketing.”
Due to these chaotic beginnings, Rogo Scott is now undergoing a rebrand – everything from the logos to the visual and the colour. The official Rogo Scott launch event – despite being in operation for 18 months – will take place in February next year. “It will be as much about educating our current clients on the range of services we offer, just as much as it will be about introducing Rogo Scott formally to the industry,” says Cook. “It’s an exciting time as we’ve attracted so much business and gone through so much growth before we’ve even formally launched.”
The atmosphere at Rogo Scott is certainly one to envy. “The thing I like about what we’re doing is that we’ve worked with every one of our employees in some capacity throughout our careers,” says Cook. “When someone comes into the business, we already have a relationship with them. It all feels very natural.”
It’s often difficult to decipher whether a business is the genuine article, or if they simply have a very good sales pitch. When meeting Rogo Scott, it’s clear that it couldn’t be closer to the former. “We want people to be able to walk straight into a project and contribute without taking our clients away from their day job,” explains Clasper. “We don’t go and sell into company’s projects that we have no idea how to execute. We stick within the areas that we know – mainly broadcast.”
Clasper compares this mandate to the bigger consultancies in the industry: “They have these partner or director-level people who have been hired because they know the industry. They sell a project, and then on Monday, some bloke shows up who has never seen a TV company in his life. I don’t think consultants understand how despised that process is! The fact that we don’t do that has put us into contention for very large projects very early on. People like the fact that they don’t have to explain their business processes.”
The company has already built an impressive client list working with well-known industry media companies ranging from network owners to film studios, broadcasters to channel owners and music publishers. Cook notes, “We’ve got our wish list. There isn’t a client we work with that you don’t hope you’re working with for the rest of your career.”
To their credit, the pair maintain a realist’s outlook when their heads could be lost in the clouds. “We have a natural limit on how far we can grow, in my opinion,” says Clasper. “In this model where we’re so specific in the jobs we take on, and the fact we want to have worked with the people we hire.”
Summarising his time at Rogo Scott, Cook says, “I love what we’re doing together, and knowing that all the people that we have are just loving what they do. We’re having fun along the way, and the satisfaction in knowing that is immeasurable.”
Clasper concurs: “Having a Christmas party at the end of your first full year, knowing that you’ve created a lot of jobs for a lot of really good people – it’s definitely something. Having a business that is going to double in size – not because of revenue or sales, but the community of people that you set out to work with. We only moved into our new premises a month ago – and now we need more office space!”