Maja Pawinska Sims 13 Dec 2018 // 4:31PM GMT
LONDON — After advising start-ups for 25 years, Sandy Purewal, one of the founders of B2B technology marketing agency Octopus Group, is leaving the company to become a tech entrepreneur himself.
Purewal founded Octopus in 2001 along with fellow Bite account directors Billy Hamilton-Stent (now client strategy director) and Jon Lonsdale (now CEO). The trio were joined in 2004 by COO Pete Hendrick. Purewal was chief executive of the agency until 2014, when he became executive chairman and handed the role over to former MD Lonsdale.
Octopus completely changed its proposition and agency model in 2014, reinventing itself as a “brand to sales” marketing agency, including huge investment in developing bespoke technology for campaign pricing, planning and evaluation. The move is now starting to pay off, with double digit growth expected this year, and new client wins including open source software company Red Hat, automation software specialist Marketo and Travelex.
Purewal told the Holmes Report: “The PR industry is a bit of a family and Octopus is a family within that. Even before we set this up I was at Bite, so PR has been my world for 25 years. What started off as an idea in Starbucks has grown to a 60-person agency. 'Brand to sales’ is gaining traction and revenues are growing nicely, so it felt like the right time, and I’m ready for a new challenge.”
The new venture is completely outside the world of communications. Purewal will be launching a new wellbeing brand in the New Year, Superfied: an online platform to help people improve their health through food. He hasn’t yet hired a PR agency but said: “I’ll be practicing what I preach in using PR as a cornerstone of the programme to raise awareness next year.”
With Purewal’s departure from Octopus this week, his 25% stake in the independent agency has been bought by the remaining shareholders: Lonsdale, Hendrick and Hamilton-Stent.
The Octopus management team remains otherwise unchanged. There are no plans to replace the executive chairman role, and ex-Publicis head John Farrell remains as non-exec chairman.
Lonsdale told the Holmes Report: “I’ve spent my entire working life with Sandy, so it will be a bit weird to not have him around, but Billy, Pete and I are still here to keep the culture going. It’s business as usual, with a great team and a great proposition that is really working for us. We’re in good shape to crack on next year, and we’ll be looking at bringing in more heavyweight marketing talent. Everyone will really miss Sandy but we’re really behind his new venture.”