Concept Cupboard: Ad Men On Tap

06 FEB 2011

Concept Cupboard

Chris Dodson, Guy McConnell, Julie Cheetham and Simon Devonshire are the power behind Concept Cupboard, a new solution for getting great marketing materials made quickly and cost effectively.

We interviewed Chris about the new venture and here’s what he had to say:

You’ve launched a new project in 2011.  Its called Concept Cupboard.  Can you tell us more about it?

Concept Cupboard is an online creative marketplace that allows small businesses to create professional marketing materials at affordable prices, by using the UK’s freshest creative talent (namely students and graduates). We like to think of it as crowdsourcing creative with a social purpose.

This is how it works:

  • A business adds a brief to the site (we’ll help with that) & sets a fair budget for the work (we’ll help with that too) and then waits for our creatives to submit their ideas.
  • Once the ideas are all in (the business sets the timeframe for this) they can select their favourite idea and award the brief to the successful creative.
  • If a business doesn’t like any of the ideas (which is very unlikely) then they can re-list the brief, but we ask that you provide a little bit of feedback to everyone that submits an idea. It will help them for the next brief they work on.
  • Then the site helps turn that idea into a finished project.

So not only are you getting work done cost effectively but you are also helping students develop a portfolio and earn some money at the same time. And you only pay the creative working on your brief when it is completed, so there is no risk.

Why are we doing this?

I actually attended the MADE festival this year and Doug was very clear in pointing out that you shouldn’t start a business just to make money. I couldn’t agree more. We really believe in what we are doing. Of course we want to have a successful business, but we also want to have a positive impact. With graduate unemployment at a 17-year high and the economy relying on small businesses to do all the heavy-lifting it feels like the time is right for a business like ours.

Knowing that you can make a difference really makes the long hours worthwhile.

You have an interesting background in marketing.  Can you tell us more about what projects you’ve worked on in the past?

I’ve just left my role as a Business Director at Archibald Ingall Stretton where I headed up the O2 account. So having spent 6 years selling to businesses on behalf of big brands I decided it was time to set up for myself and experience life on the other side of the fence. My background has obviously helped, especially working with brands such as Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Intel and O2, but it is very different not having agency resources behind you.

I guess the one big advantage I have brought to Concept Cupboard are my contacts. Former colleagues and clients have been fantastic and at the moment I’m constantly pulling in favours from them, which can obviously only carry on for so long. But this is one of the reasons we are so excited to launch Concept Cupboard. There aren’t really very many options for small businesses to get help with their marketing, but we hope to change all of that.

What are the key marketing and branding concepts startups and small businesses have to master in order to have a big impact without a big budget?

I’d say just keep it simple. Be very clear about what your business does or what you sell. Then use all of the free tools at your disposal. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, etc. As a startup we don’t have much budget for marketing so we are using our network, pulling all of the social media levers and speaking to lots and lots of people to help us spread the word.

My top tip for other startups . . .

This advice actually comes from my board and I couldn’t agree more. They keep asking me to think about what the most powerful thing I can be doing today, this week, this month, etc. If you think in these terms then it gives you a focus. Yes, lots of other things need to get done too, but as long as you do that one big thing then you are making progress.

How can people reach you if they have questions about Concept Cupboard?

Email. Skype. Twitter. You can get in touch with us any which way and we’d be delighted to talk to you. Our contact details are on our site: or you can call me on 0208 3342879..

Will you continue to provide direct support to customers as well as the online service?

We have huge plans for where we want to take Concept Cupboard, but for launch we are keeping things relatively simple. The site will have a resource centre for both businesses and creatives full of useful videos and articles. We’ll also be linking off to great content from experts like School for Startups. And of course we’ll be on the end of the phone to offer advice and support if needed.

  1. Loving this idea! Great for start-ups whether you’re looking to employ or to be employed ad hoc. Good luck guys!

  2. A great Idea. This should take off like a rocket with the right exposure.
    Good luck guys.

  3. fantastic idea, I am checking out the site now and wish you guys luck.

    do you have many creatives signed up and what happens if you don’t get any suitable submissions ?