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Going Kommando in a bid to secure international clients

IN this week's SME Focus, we hear from an entrepreneur who has been exporting marketing expertise developed in Scotland to South America.

MASTER OF HIS OWN DESTINY: Kommando  founder Mark Evans said he decided at a young age that going it alone would be the only way in which he could express himself.
MASTER OF HIS OWN DESTINY: Kommando founder Mark Evans said he decided at a young age that going it alone would be the only way in which he could express himself.

Name: Mark Evans

Age: 45

What is your business called?

Kommando

Where is it based?

Glasgow and London

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

We run three businesses: Kommando, NomadiX Media and  PixAngels, all of which conduct marketing campaigns aimed at grabbing global attention.

Kommando's recent marketing campaigns have included Greener Scotland for the Scottish Government, which used experiential techniques to encourage awareness of the environment. The campaign featured staff who wore fleeces made from recycled bottles, an interactive Rapid Recycler game and 3G-enabled iPads that consumers could use to pinpoint their nearest recycling points.

We believe NomadiX Media's iWalker is the world's most advanced wearable, fully mobile and self-sufficient wearable digital signage. Ultra-bright LED screens are elevated above the wearers head and supported from a body-sculpted harness. iWalkers are worn by marketing teams to roam indoors and out, supplying on-the-move, on-demand advertising and messaging for marketers and brands.

PixAngels is a social media-centric photo marketing service. In wifi-enabled spaces, PixAngels can capture images and through intelligent proprietary software, upload each instantly to the clients' website.

Who does it sell to?

Our clients include MTV, Levis, Vodafone, Pret A Manger, Pearl & Dean, Police, the Scottish Government and many more.

We recently completed a distributor licence deal for our NomadiX iWalkers technology in Colombia, South America's third largest economy. Our first campaign in Bogota's central business district ran for nearly three weeks for Blackberry. NomadiX Media Colombia's next campaign will be for Disney.

What is its turnover?

Combined group sales for this year are in excess of £2.9 million.

How many employees?

Twelve, plus over 2400 Kommando part-time promotional/brand ambassador staff across the country.

When was it formed?

2000

Why did you take the plunge?

I'm a highly creative person, always have been since a little boy, and a perpetual challenger and rebel of 'the norm'. Few employers would ever have permitted me to fully express myself and being trapped in an office or having to do something I don't believe in would only have made me miserable. So I set off on my own at 26 with a decision never to march to anyone else's drum.

Through Kommando, I hoped to cement a business reputation for being a key influencer and pioneer of guerrilla and experiential marketing.

Experiential marketing is all about experiencing a business, brand or product in a deeper sensory level, either by combining all five senses or at least combining three. Guerrilla marketing is a state of mind that allows you to think outside the traditional advertising or media landscape.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was executive creative director at BHUDA, the first guerrilla marketing agency in the UK. Prior to this, I was creator and founding director of Aquarium, a boutique nightclub located in a disused sea life centre on a beach in Ayrshire.

In my early life, I spent time in the military and also in the police. Military life taught me about teamwork and always having to plan a plan B. The police was a lesson in real people, real life and a humbling experience.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Blood, sweat and tears.

What was your biggest break?

Hijacking every public statue in Glasgow in 2001 and fitting oversized Jimmy hats to their heads all on behalf of a well-known whisky brand: "There's only one Scottish Leader."

Our first big client wins included a campaign for 'Rocket' in 2002 that featured 26 gospel-singing nuns riding on Harley Davidsons through London to tie in with the launch of 'Magic FM'.

What was your worst moment?

The start of the economic downturn because it felt like businesses just switched off marketing budgets.

If the question was "what were your most challenging moments" I would say the international launch of the NomadiX iWalker in 2012.

There were a great many considerations,such as possible patent infringements, intellectual property protection and challenging double tax restrictions from overseas that played heavily on a scalable international model.

I can't also forget the manufacturing challenges to ensure the product was robust and reliable for overseas shipping and customer delivery schedules.

The biggest challenge was creating something tangible from a drawing, a sketch and idea. We went through multiple prototypes, testing, disappointments and breakthroughs that took us on another path.

The idea came from an early invention by entrepreneur Daniel Langlois in Canada, who was involved in film-making. He created a wearable device to showcase his movie special effects.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Being the master of my own destiny.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Reduce corporation tax for SMEs, as this will allow us to re-invest more profit into faster growth and innovation strategies, which in turn creates new jobs, social affluence and shared wealth.

What are your top priorities?

I'm currently expanding a distribution network for the NomadiX Media's iWalker technology. As well as Colombia, this technology is already licensed and in operation in South Africa, with a further expansion target of five countries in 2014 and many more to come.

We also have the launch of the newly revamped exclusive PixAngels photo marketing technology across the UK with international franchise ambitions later in the year.

As for Kommando, it's now time to go after a top place in London with an eye on overseas expansion. Adding new blood to the team is also a big priority so that we can cope with our fast-growing client base.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Sales are vanity, profit is sanity… and surround yourself with loyal and dedicated people who will advise, support and ultimately will stand side by side with you.

How do you relax?

Long, adventurous walks with my dogs and regular visits to Dubai (my second home).

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