My Week: Marc Boyan of Miroma Group

The UK media barter entrepreneur networks in New York ahead of a big push into Asia.

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

My most important meeting happens every single day. If I’m not working out first thing in the morning, I feel awful for the rest of the day. I think it's an American thing – I never used to be like that back in the UK, but it’s kind of normal here. I start work at 5am – I’ve worked UK hours ever since I moved out to New York four years ago – and hit the gym about 7.30 (lunch time in London).

It's a very busy time for us, because many companies are having to cut marketing budgets due to the recession but are still looking for opportunities to gain market share: if they are cutting their media budget and have lots of inventory, we can say: give us your inventory and we’ll give you advertising space. I spend most of my time meeting and introducing the business model to various people. They tend to be familiar with the old way of bartering, but our way is very different and is risk-free to clients. We always deliver the media as planned by the client and their agency first, and we take inventory as payment after the media has run.

There’s a lot going on in London, but New York is the networking hub; a city that lives by introductions, meetings and deals, it’s from here that some of my core engagements have been originated. (Although that said, I’m just finalising plans to move back to the UK in August, after my wedding.)

We’re setting up in Asia at the moment, expanding into Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Australia. So I’ve been doing a lot of work on that in the last week, meeting with people that want to put money into the business, and others that have influence in Asia. It’s very difficult to go there without local skills and local networks, so we’re talking to a few people who have those. We don’t actually trade much barter here in the US; it's a disaster as far as I'm concerned. The industry has quite a bad reputation (apart a few media agency owned barter companies), and there’s lots of competition, so we steer well clear of it. It’s a market we feel we will tackle last - once we have grown, have the nine-figure turnover and a global story to tell.

Probably my biggest meeting this week was with one of our old investors – originally he put in next to nothing, but now he’s seen it grow, he wants to seed the whole Asia business. He’s a multi-billionaire with a fabulous network, so it’s excellent news – the only tough thing was that I had to fly back to London for the day! But he’s one of the very few people who can tell you that they’ve got an hour in the diary, and you just get up and go. It’s not often you can sit down in front of someone who's been as successful as him – even if he doesn’t give you a penny, it's great just to listen and learn. His biggest concern was how much media is government-run in Asia, but it’s not an issue – there’s $110bn spent on advertising there every year and we have the right network to help open doors (as I explained to him).

I check in with the London office every day for a snapshot - particularly on the smaller clients. The larger ones tend to handle themselves (obviously with the help of our excellent team), but you want to look after the smaller ones because they'll grow. We have a growing team in the UK, though we still need more people. I’m currently looking for someone to head up media trading in Asia, and I think we’ve just found an ex-Goldman Sachs guy to take on a Global Strategic/CFO role. It’s a media-orientated business, but we're looking for someone with real clout in the markets – someone who knows the hedge funds and the VCs, who knows how to raise capital etc. We want Miroma to become a $500m+ group by 2012, so we need an expert in that sphere. Omnicom’s barter business Icon does $800m sales; I think the Asia business could replicate that, and there's little competition. So I won’t be going anywhere until we get to those kinds of numbers.

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