3WhiteHats are a progressive digital marketing agency with offices in Cornwall and London. From their seaside HQ in Falmouth, the businesses’ reach is global – boasting an international client base. Invest in Cornwall’s Brand Manager, Kelly Trelease, caught up with Tom Telford, Managing Director, to find out more about their success.
Getting to know you…
Tom went to University in Plymouth and, after finishing his degree, moved to London to chase a city career. “I got a job with Deloitte in Central London, at the same time I was preparing for the Fastnet race and did a lot of sailing and training in Cornwall”. However it wasn’t long before the draw of the Cornish way of life tempted Tom back to the south west for work – “I liked being near the sea, I found a role in Cornwall that actually paid the same so I got to move to Cornwall, keep my salary and cut costs”.
Tom proceeded to rack up experience with agencies in Cornwall, working with clients such as eBay, Mars and The Guardian before being inspired to start his own business.
A story of collaboration
Tom started the business alone however, a timely chance meeting with an ex work colleague, led to the collaboration of two extremely driven and ambitious entrepreneurs – 3WhiteHats was formed.
Since its inception the business has experienced fast-paced, organic growth, its headquarters is now in Falmouth and since their move to the coastal town the “business has boomed, there are loads of agencies in Falmouth now which are creating a creative, vibrant scene which is supported by Falmouth University. We’re surrounded by creative businesses such as Dewsign, Stranger Collective, Sanders Studio, Eight Wire, Venn Studio – Falmouth is filled with creative digital businesses and talent”.
Since its inception in 2009 3WhiteHats has grown to 15 employees including a team in Cornwall, London and New Zealand – providing the business with a truly global reach. One of their recent employees joined the Cornwall based team from Lake Tahoe – the diversity of talent that 3WhiteHats are able to attract comes from near and far.
Something 3WhiteHats boasts, and can attribute a lot of their growth to, is their high staff and client retention rates – “We have huge staff and client retention rates – something that we’re extremely proud of”. There are obvious benefits to high levels of staff retention and, for 3WhiteHats it means that as they’re able to increase staff loyalty, they can decrease businesses overheads and increase productivity, something that that Tom says couldn’t be achieved in other parts of the UK. Not only is it great for business, it’s great for staff too – “We have a sea view, our own beach on the harbour and we’re right in the middle of the town”.
Falmouth’s digital cluster…
Digital clustering is something that can definitely be witnessed in Falmouth. Organic movement of businesses into the seaside town, coupled with one of the UK’s best arts universities – Falmouth University, equips the area, and the rest of the region, with disruptive businesses and an extremely highly skilled talent pool. “As more and more digital businesses set up, there’s increasingly more opportunity, people feel encouraged when there’s a community of like-minded businesses”.
“Falmouth’s got a different attraction and identity and has been heard to be called the ‘Shoreditch by the sea’! As an agency we’ve grown successfully and, in line with organic growth, we’ve managed to gain ourselves a reputation for the quality of work we deliver our clients. We’re proud to work with household names such as Amazon and to secure contracts with businesses within the biggest tech ecosystem in the world, Silicon Valley”.
As a region, Cornwall is synonymous with numerous things; beaches, tourism, food and drink, hospitality, escapism. As well as the obvious, physical attributes, the region propagates originality and integrity, a place where purpose is as important as the profit line, where businesses and their employees are intrinsically linked to the environment that surrounds them. “Cornwall works in our favour because it supports our ethos of being ethical, open and honest, everyone is laid back but, at the same time, we work hard and this balance means we always deliver. I don’t want our employees to have to work the hours that I had to, 12 hour days often 7 days a week, but I also don’t want them to think that by being in Cornwall you can take a back seat – this is not what we’re about and you’ll find this with the majority of businesses in Cornwall!”
Cornwall’s business community
“There are many well-known brands based in Cornwall. We usually work with local agencies as there’s a huge amount of talent, right on our doorstep. Our supply chain in Cornwall is very strong because of ambitious, driven people, and people with the same thought processes – you might want Cornwall to be this little amazing secret with a perfect balance, but in reality you want others to realise what’s actually happening here”.
“What we’d pay for one desk in London, we’d probably get ten desks here”
“As more and more digital companies set up there’s more opportunity, which is increasing the talent pool for businesses like ours”
“Most of our clients are outside of Cornwall. In the UK, Europe and international”
“We are an international business and in a digital era, we don’t need to be in a major city to achieve this”
“We want to attract ambitious hard working employees but also those who are willing to enjoy the surroundings in their free time”
“The airport has made it so easy for us to commute; I take the plane every time I commute to London and it’s often cheaper than the train.”
“Cornwall provides a strong supply chain and a great sense of community, there’s also a lot of support from peers and other businesses”
Interested in finding out more?
3WhiteHats will be exhibiting at Clerkenwell Design Week in London, one of the most important design festivals on the planet. Click here to get your tickets.Tom Telford Managing Director, 3WhiteHats
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