Grant Allaway AD20NE


established 1999;

fifty employees;і


$30 million annual turnoverS'





Being rich suits Grant All-I

away. It's not just that he'sf

young and handsome and

has a fortune at his fingertips.

Or that he spends obscene amounts of money on handmade shirts and suits. He simply couldn't exist any other way. 'I'd be terrible at being poor,' he admits. 'I'd go mad if I had to think about spending money; if I had to budget or think twice before going out for an expensive meal, or booking a holiday. Those things would really irritate me.'

Just as well, then, that Allaway is boss of AD2ONE, an online advertising agency he has taken from a four-man operation about to go bust in 2000 to a multinational business that turned over $20 million in 2008/09. It has offices in London and Sydney and, after becoming AOL's new online advertising agency, is now the largest such agency in Australia.

As Allaway points out, the 2009 economic downturn was the first where there was a viable advertising alternative to TV, radio and news-papers.

In previous deep recessions, online ads didn't exist.

And it's an alternative advertisers clearly like, with revenues 15 per cent higher in 2008 than a year before. Allaway concedes that even so, his UK business would have had a 'relatively flat' year in 2008 had he not won quite a major client—eBay. As a result of its business, however, his revenues zoomed 200 per cent.

'We're having a great recession,' he says. 'We are lucky to be in a sector that is not too badly affected. [That's mostly] because online advertising is relatively cheap, transparent and easy to monitor. Advertisers are leaving other forms of media and [doing their] spending online.'

I meet Allaway at the $12 million waterfront mansion at McMahons Point that he's rented for his stay—after spending ?20,000 on first-class flights from London for himself, his wife, Sarah, and their three children, all under five years old.

'Ah, the kids can play up on the plane sometimes, and the other passengers must hate me, but I don't care,' he says. 'The [expense] is worth it because the kids can run around and they get looked after. It's fantastic. I always travel first class now.'

When I arrive the scene is a perfect picture of happy family life, with Allaway's two giggling daughters climbing on his back as he crawls across the floor.

But his life has not always been so idyllic. Born in London, he had a happy early childhood—his father was a financial director for a steel company and his mother was a housewife. 'It was the classic suburban family, 2.2 kids, com-fortable existence,' he says. 'I always got the bike I wanted at Christmas and all that. I was particu-larly close to my mum—a bit of a mummy's boy really. But one morning, when I was twelve years old, my mum didn't wake me up for breakfast like she usually did. It was my uncle instead. I went downstairs and my relatives were all there, and they told me straight: Mum and Dad had been killed in a car crash.

'Obviously I cried and I was shattered, but I didn't shut down. You find a way of carrying on. You just do, even when you're twelve.'

A couple of years later, doctors blamed a painful skin rash on the stress and depression that Allaway suffered in the wake of his parents' death. One thing he didn't have to worry about was money. He received an extra ?65 a week in benefits because of his orphan status. 'In 1985, when you were twelve years old with no outgoings, that was a fortune! I had all the latest gear, [running shoes] and tracksuits. And I knew there was a ?200,000 trust fund that would kick in when I was eighteen, so actually I never had to worry about money. It's always been there. I've been skint because I've spent it too quickly, but there's always been more around the corner.'

Allaway enjoyed school, where he stood out as the best-dressed student, and by the time he went to university he'd received the ?200,000. 'I spent the lot,' he says.

'By the time I finished university at twenty-one, it had all gone.'

He did, however, do one constructive thing with the cash—he put ?3000 down as a deposit on a ?30,000 flat in Brighton that today is worth about ?170,000 ($370,000). 'If that flat—which is a s***hole—can grow in value to ?200,000, then I'll have made it all back! That would be something.'

After university, facing poverty for the first time, he found a job with a photography company, cold-calling people to try and sell them vouchers for a family portrait. 'I really took to it,' he says. 'I thought to myself, I'm going to get a job in media sales after this, so I ended up in sales jobs on a variety of magazines, including one that provided a company car, which I thought was the ultimate achievement!' Next he joined the publishing firm Reed Elsevier, selling ad space to corporate clients, honing his sales skills as he worked across its range of publications. Then, in 1995, when the Internet was still in its infancy, he got his first online job, selling online ads for Reed. 'I was having to explain what a website was to all the potential clients,' he says. 'People just didn't understand, let alone want to spend money advertising on it. I don't think I sold anything for a year.'

In 1999 Allaway left Reed and joined a former colleague and friend who was running AD2ONE in London. The agency had been set up to sell ads across a range of websites for Vivendi, a French media company. But after a rapid expansion, the dotcom bubble had burst and AD2ONE was left hanging. 'Vivendi had an AD2ONE office in every major city in Europe.

It closed them all down except [the one in] Lon-don because although we were losing money, we did at least have some turnover,' he says. 'Then a small private company came and took over and did nothing, so eventually my business partner Julian and I, who were running AD2ONE at that point, said to the owner: "Look, if we leave, you've got no company. Why don't you just let us take it off your hands?"

'So we did.

All we had to do was take on the ?150,000 of debt, and the company was ours.'

The pair immediately set about selling across the Vivendi sites and acquiring new sites to sell ads onto. They had a powerful incentive to choose well, he recalls: 'We were only as good as the websites we represented because nobody would want to advertise on rubbish sites. Very quickly we won Disney, Discovery Channel and Eurosport, and started selling ad space to companies such as Ford—companies that aren't interested in response rates, they just want a brand presence on other reputable brands' websites. That's what we specialise in: brand advertising, putting the right ads with the right sites. In Australia we won Lonely Planet and Expedia.com. au soon after opening, which was great.'

His first million came in 2005, when the London company made a clear $3 million profit, which he and his partner split down the middle. AD2ONE started in Australia the same year, selling ads on UK sites

visible only to Aus; But as he puts it: I've

tralian users mainly always thought I had all my newspaper sites such bad luck all at once, back as The Times and The on that morning when I Guardian, and Sky was twelve- Sports. It is expanding rapidly and is now the largest online agency in Australia.

It's all looking up for Allaway now, and some might argue he's had a pretty easy run of it. But as he puts it: 'I've always thought I had all my bad luck all at once, back on that morning when I was twelve.'

Nick Gardner

golden rules

Never spend more than you have coming in.

Surround yourself with good professionals such as lawyers and accountants to give good advice.

Use downturns as opportunities to cut costs.

Never forget what makes your business unique.

Never underestimate your competitors. Paranoia can be good.

Always be home to run the bath for the kids.

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Источник: Nick Gardner. How. I made-.my first million. 26 self-made millionaires reveal the secrets to their success. 2010

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