Name: Neil Hutchinson
Companies run: TrafficBroker, Forward Internet Group
When your business records a turnover of £18.3m after four years, you’re doing something right. Founder of TrafficBroker Neil Hutchinson may have wanted to be a City trader, but you can bet your bottom pound he’s glad the ambition was not fulfilled.
An inquisitive mind, testing and restlessly probing the ability to make cash out of clever use of Google has paid off in spades and TrafficBroker has quickly ascended the heights of the UK affiliate marketing scene, delivering huge volumes of traffic to clients’ sites and generating a kick-back in return.
Just into his thirties former accountant and web designer Hutchinson runs the business from a urban-cool address in Camden. The business has an almost first generation dot com feel, with a scheme to let employees loose with 10% of their time on new business ideas and table fussball finishes occasionally peppering the more gentle office hum.
But that might unkindly suggest a less-than-focused 45-strong workforce, which is clearly not the case. Instead, the company delivered more than 500 million clicks and over £200m in sales for clients’ – which include Hilton, Amazon and Vodafone – sites.
TrafficBroker was started with £2,000 borrowed from Hutchinson’s parents and friends, but in order to gain some momentum he needed more and turned to his former employer, Spring Digital. He received £125,000 by promising the report daily on what the money was spent on, plus a 50% profits split – 30% more than he’d initially offered.
The good news was he retained his equity and after nine months the money had been repaid with a £150,000 profit to Spring Digital’s owners, the Gray family. Having proved the concept and held onto control of his business Hutchinson quickly cut loose from the deal and a year later the company boasted a £5m turnover.
Buoyed by the success, but aware of his own inexperience, Hutchinson hired some ‘grey hair’ to his board of advisers, including non-executive chairman Frank Herman, the former European head of Sega.
More recently, TrafficBroker has become part of Forward Internet Group, which Hutchinson formed to create a stable of search, publishing and technology-focused businesses. One such creation, Omio, is a mobile phone comparison and community site formed in late 2007.
Awards for Hutchinson and the business have flooded in. TrafficBroker made 10th place in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in 2008 with sales growth of 151% between 2004/05 and 2007/08.
Hutchinson himself was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the London final of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He won the same category in the Growing Business Awards, a Real Business magazine and CBI (Confederation of British Industry) event, as well as being named ‘haysmacintyre Top Gun’ in Growing Business magazine’s Young Guns list.
The company also received two nominations in the prestigious Orange National Business Awards for innovation and use of technology. All in all, progress to make any entrepreneur salivate.
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