Inc & Co is a Manchester-founded company and business collective, founded in 2019 by Jack Mason and Dave Antrobus. The group has businesses in retail, digital, food & beverage and data. In the group is; incspaces, our UK wide shared and flexible workspace provider, Inc Retail, which has KNOMO London, Laundrapp, Chop’d, Tootsa and GUT Instinct, and Skylab, which has Cuhu and Insight Analysis. Finally, there is Wood for Trees our third sector data firm.
We talk to Jack about the business as it reaches its second birthday.
What’s been a highlight of the last two years?
Where do I start? I will be honest from the get-go, it’s been a tough two years. Little did we know when we started Inc & Co that in a matter of months, we would hit the world’s worst pandemic that those who are alive today have ever experienced. We’ve had plenty of ups and some downs though, but we’ve all at Inc & Co been committed to working together to see it though.
Growing any business can have it’s teething issues, though, and as you grow and you develop processes and teams, it can be tough to see when things don’t work well, but you need to be quick to put things right.
We’ve acquired some fantastic businesses, though, and the highlight has been the launch of our new retail group, Inc Retail. The group is headed by an industry vetran, Dan Shaw, who joined us from Intu. Dan has since led the acquisition of 5 brands; Tootsa, Laundrapp, KNOMO London, Gut Instinct and Tootsa and I’m excited to see what’s next!
Have there been any tough moments and how did you overcome them?
There’s been loads of tough moments, some of the big ones are where you get the opportunity to acquire a business, and because of the position of the business, due to Covid, you have to let people go. It’s awful and you wouldn’t wish it upon your enemy. For the businesses affected by the pandemic, you do have to slim them down to make them viable, so it’s a required evil. Luckily we have a great People Team, who I’m proud to say help keep me grounded and focused on the people within our business. It’s easy to see employees as a number when you grow bigger and bigger, and now, even with 750 people within Inc & Co, I love to get to know each and everyone one of them at every opportunity.
What couldn’t you have lived without in the last two years?
My laptop. During the pandemic it’s been everywhere. Home office, work, holiday, we’ve really had to adapt to a new way of working. My laptop has enabled me to work from anywhere, and it’s been the same for all our teams. I don’t think many of our teams are even using desktop computers any more, it’s all laptops.
What advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur thinking of starting up a business?
Think about who you can rope in to help you, as you will struggle doing anything alone. In our business no one works in silos, everyone is part of the wider team, and then departments, and then micro teams and projects. As humans we are meant to work and socialise with others, so why would we go into business alone? Think of the practical help with a problem halved, or just having someone to talk to when things get tough, because it will.
If you’re rubbish at marketing, find a cofounder who absolutely loves marketing, or vice versa, find someone who is good at finance, if you’re not.
Do you have a motto that you live by? If so, what is it?
“If it was going to be easy, everyone would be doing it”. I apply this motto to most things in business and it helps me get through a lot. I always think to myself, if what I was doing was easy, I would have a lot more competitors. Taking on a new market or a new idea is always exciting and you want to be doing something that is at least a challenge, as it will truly help you grow as a person. A little bit of a struggle goes a long way.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given in business?
“Just get on with it”. It’s a simple saying which speaks a thousand words. What it means to me, is that sometimes, you just need to get on with it. Process can be a blocker, procrastination can be a blocker, people can be a blocker. It’s a powerful phrase, you can always throw it about though, some things do need a bit of extra time. Other times, you just need to get on with it, whether that’s making a business decision that’s been taking you a long time, or a hiring decision between two people. Sometimes a bit of immediacy can be really powerful.
Saying the same phrase can also be empowering to fellow colleagues, but you have to say it in different ways to make sure that your colleague also knows that you do care too, otherwise it can seem like you don’t.
What does the future hold for Inc & Co?
More acquisitions as we grow, that’s inevitable. We always try to find companies that have common-ground.
About Jack Mason
As the Group CEO of award winning Inc & Co, Jack Mason is an entrepreneurial business leader with a people-focussed outlook who uses his consultancy-led approach to reform struggling businesses. Jack directs Inc & Co’s acquisitions through strategic business frameworks and methodologies, questioning the status quo to form creative solutions. His innovative marketing models and technical systems form the growth solutions that Inc & Co’s acquisitions need to thrive. Jack places a strong emphasis on surrounding himself with experts – the great team that surrounds him are the backbone of everything he does.
After studying Business Enterprise at the Manchester Metropolitan University, Jack went on to found Dreamr. In 2019, he launched Inc & Co to provide a collaborative space and knowledge hub for digital enterprises specialising in software, server technologies, PR, marketing, and design. Now, Inc & Co’s ever-growing collection of acquisitions has access to more business advice and guidance than ever before.
Inc & Co is a Manchester-founded company and business collective, founded in 2019 by Jack Mason. The group has businesses in retail, digital, food & beverage and data. In the group is; incspaces, our UK wide shared and flexible workspace provider, Inc Retail, which has KNOMO London, Laundrapp, Chop’d, Tootsa and GUT Instinct, and Skylab, which has Cuhu and Insight Analysis. Finally, there is Wood for Trees, our third sector data firm.
Inc & Co’s acquisitions include the global analytics firm Insight Analysis, which drives success for sports organisations such as the Premier League, LTA Tennis, and British Athletics; sport brand-building agency Skylab; charity data-management firm Wood for Trees; data preference and consent management specialists MyLife Digital; creative agency Neon; award-winning marketing agency Brass; mobile app development firm Cuhu; and leading laundry service Laundrapp.
This year, Jack has also launched Inc & Co’s sister company incspaces. He worked with his partners to acquire and develop Prospect Business Centres into incspaces, which offers ergonomic serviced office spaces for freelancers and business teams of all sizes. incspaces currently provide business-grade workspaces in Manchester, London, and Leeds and plans to expand further.
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