How Inc & Co is transforming the Digital Landscape – Q&A with Founder Jack Mason

Inc & Co is a unique creative collective aiming to redefine the digital landscape through collaboration, shared services and high-level group support. In just over 11 months, Inc & Co has acquired six digital businesses, all under the strategic direction of Founder Jack Mason. 

This Q&A with Jack Mason explores Inc & Co’s formation, success to date, how the company is transforming the digital landscape. Plus, ambitious future plans.

business interview

Q: Inc & Co is a very different proposition from other collectives and holding companies – where did the idea come from?

Jack Mason: I was approached by private investors who wanted to go into business together, and the idea grew from there. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of talk from business owners about collaboration, but rarely see it happen between agencies. I wanted to set up a group collective to bring agencies together, as I see huge potential in true collaborative working. 

We initially acquired software developers Cuhu and digital agency NEON and soon realised the wealth of talent, services, creativity and drive that we had brought together. The agency scene is traditionally closed off. Inc & Co is different, we’re the framework that allows digital agencies, app developers and tech businesses to truly work together. They support each other, but also retain their own brand, culture and identity. 

Inc & Co – transforming the digital landscape

Q: How does Inc & Co work as a collective? 

Jack Mason: We have a hugely talented group of experienced finance managers, recruiters, talent acquisition experts, strategic experts and business managers on board as part of the Inc & Co Group. When we bring businesses on board, they can use the support from group level in any way that works for them. We’re here to support them with strategy and business structure, leaving them free to concentrate on the product or service they are best at. 

Any agency or digital business that grows beyond 10 people forces the owner or founder to step away from the innovative side to concentrate on the business side and logistics of running the company. This is the burden we take off our acquisitions, so that they can refocus their talent on their original goals. 

At the same time, Inc & Co grows its collective of talent across different sectors, all of whom benefit each other. The idea of the group is to ensure each company can cross pollinate with ideas, expertise and clients and that we can collectively offer an end to end service. 

Our USP is that we have group resources that are accessible to our collective. This is what makes Inc & Co different. We troubleshoot the business upon acquisition, make changes where we need to, ensure it’s as lean and functional as possible and continue to provide support as when it’s needed. Whether that’s across social media, finance, talent, digital strategy or a mix of those. 

Q: Which companies are currently part of Inc & Co? 

Jack Mason: As well as NEON and Cuhu, we’ve also acquired on-demand laundry service Laundrapp, marketing agency brass and most recently digital innovation agency Skylab. Each acquisition expands our vision and inspires us to pivot. While our original concept was agency only, acquisitions such as Laundrapp are giving us a wider stage. 

Through digital disruptors, innovative service apps and truly original digital agencies, we are reshaping the digital landscape. Skylab brings on board Bafta-winning Nigel Collier and David Logan, with clients including Manchester United, Fifa and the British Paralympic Association, among others. 

Skylab further strengthens our digital capabilities and offers more specialist skill sets across the collective. It’s such an exciting time for the business.

An ambitious acquisition strategy 

Q: You’ve mentioned that Inc & Co has an acquisition strategy for 2020 – what are your plans? 

Jack Mason: At the start of the year, we decided to shift from our original focus of solely agencies and widen our scope to include digital. We’re always looking out for new innovative businesses to join the collective. 

We’re approached by businesses every week. Some are experiencing tough times and others that are flying high in niche areas. Our selection process always begins with the company’s team, and reputation. Bringing Skylab on board for example was a no brainer. They have an amazing team of strategists and developers, which we’re delighted to harness across the collective. 

Much of our approach to acquisition is client driven. Our clients let us know what they want, and we take this on board and expand Inc & Co to match. I’m not much of a fan of the phrase ‘one stop shop’ but Inc & Co truly does offer clients an end to end service across digital development, app development, marketing, sales and more through each agency’s specialities.

By the end of 2020 we want to have doubled our workforce and service offering through acquisitions. And we’re very much on target to achieve this. We have a number of opportunities in the pipeline and are looking to achieve an all-round service offering. Inc & Co can already offer a huge range of complementary services and our 2020 plan will see this grow even more. 

Inc & Co on expanding overseas 

Q: What else are you working on? 

Jack Mason: I think it’s important to make clear that, although we offer collaboration, cross-pollination of services and high-level group support, each of the companies acquired by Inc & Co retain their own autonomy. They retain their own office space, their branding, identity and culture. We’re not here to homogenise our acquisitions, but to allow them the freedom to innovate and create. 

Our first birthday in July and, by the end of the year, we’re on track to complete nine acquisitions in total. We’ve grown steadily and have also branched out with Inc & Co Property – a different sector for us, with huge potential in the serviced office arena. Our long-term plans include acquiring a range of agencies in Europe and further afield. We want to tap into other markets and further expand our digital reach. 

We’re launching Laundrapp in the US at the end of 2020, and currently finalising our European city launches too. The strength of this acquisition is widening our digital scope away from agencies. And should another opportunity arise that takes us into different spheres, we’ll look at how this will compliment the existing business model. As long as our acquisitions fit within our digital business strategy, we’re open to different sectors. 

While Inc & Co have big plans to become a global brand, we’ll never lose the personal touch. We’re not interested in becoming another hands-off PLC and will always retain the touchpoints that make us different. The ethos we started with of collaboration and cross-pollination will remain. This is why companies approach us and want to be part of our collective. You never know when the next opportunity will come up for Inc & Co. Watch this space! 

Read more about Jack Mason at his website here

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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