LONDON — Former Flagship Consulting managing director Mark Pinnes has launched a strategic communications and growth marketing agency for B2B and technology brands, Upside PR, with backing from new start-up accelerator fund MXP Ventures.

Pinnes joined Flagship in 2014 as deputy MD, and was promoted to managing director when the firm was bought by agency group Selbey Anderson in 2019. He had previously served as head of media relations at Morrisons supermarkets, and global head of marketing and communications for UK tech unicorn Truphone. During his agency career, Pinnes has led strategic communications for clients such as Dell, HP, AIG, EY and Shell Renewables.

Upside’s services will include internal and external communications, media relations, social media and thought leadership, combined with growth marketing tactics such as prototyping new marketing and value propositions, digital marketing and programmatic advertising.

Pinnes told PRovoke Media: “My time at Flagship had reached its natural end, as it was fully integrated into Selbey Anderson. I had an idea for what an agency could and should do, based on my in-house experiences, and when met the guys at MXP they shared the same vision and I realised this was the right environment to build a new company.”

In terms of the agency’s combined strategic communications and growth marketing proposition, Pinnes said: “My experience is that many business leaders undervalue what comms can do for them, and see it as a child of marketing. While comms does that job very well – and Upside is delighted to do it – it can do a heck of a lot more. When you relentlessly tell the story of what makes your business genuinely interesting, the people who need to care about you – whether investors, customers or employees – understand what you do and come to you organically - that’s the job of comms. If you enmesh that with growth marketing, then both sides feed each other.

“Strategic comms and growth marketing shouldn’t be separate things but few companies are able to merge them well as they are owned by different internal teams and timescales are challenging – the feedback cycle from strategic comms is relatively slow and the feedback cycle from growth marketing is instant – but, properly orchestrated, they can drive extraordinary growth for the business. B2B and technology businesses are more attuned to this type of thinking, but I firmly believe this approach will be everywhere and will be the only way businesses operate in the future.”

MXP Ventures was founded in October last year by Michael Young, CEO of US-based Millwright Holdings, and Tilo Bonow, founder of Berlin-based Piabo. The $10 million fund has also so far invested in Bound to Prosper, founded in September 2021 by Lydia Hoye, who had been MD of Kazoo Communications in London for 17 years.

Young said: “Mark’s clarity of vision, track record and ability to deliver impressed us from the outset. We have tremendous resources from across the group which enable Upside to be global from day one.”

Upside is already working with six clients, in the areas of artificial intelligence, video technology, fintech and cleantech. The agency is currently growing its full-time team, with the aim of hiring 10 senior practitioners on board during the course of this year, and has access to talent from across the MXP group.