Three’s a charm: how friendships formed at NTU inspired future business success
A group of NTU alumni who met at Nottingham Business School now run their own successful digital marketing agency.
Business and Business Management alum Art Lindop started the Derby-based venture in 2017. He was joined two years later by fellow graduate Alex Mills, and Business Studies alum Kieran Flynn.
Initially, the team grew audiences on Facebook and Instagram, promoting local businesses via sponsored articles. Then came expansion, and a rebrand to company name Alphageek in June 2020. They now cover end-to-end digital marketing and specialise in pay-per-click and paid advertising services.
Despite the challenges of COVID and lockdown, Alphageek’s sales director Alex Mills says the company has continued to grow, with a list of clients that include Casio and Project D. He’s certain today’s success can be traced back to friendships formed at NTU.
“Kieran and Art knew each other well from school so were already close,” Alex says. "Art and I were best mates at NTU, (there are plenty of stories I could share but probably shouldn’t!) and I met Kieran early on thanks to Art.
“We all got on well immediately – but never expected that friendship to turn into what it is today. We're as strong as ever but we’re now building a rapidly growing company together.”
Did the three’s time at NTU help prepare them for what came next?
"In a way yes,” says Alex. “Being young and difficult at the time, we didn't fully appreciate the relevance of parts of the course – but as time’s gone on, we’ve realised how it prepared us for what we’re doing now. It’s helped us define and hone what’s important, like the self-assessment and management side of things."
We all got on well immediately – but never expected that friendship to turn into what it is today. We're as strong as ever but we’re now building a rapidly growing company together
Has the friendship the three had at university transferred into the workplace?
“It’s our strongest asset,” Alex says. "Every day is genuinely enjoyable going into the office and the bond between the whole team really is like family. We look out for each other and are always spending time together outside work. To further this we’ve also just introduced a bonus scheme where we give a monthly percentage of profits split among the team. Everyone benefits from our busy months and are all incentivised pushing towards the same goal of growth.”
It’s all looking very positive for the Alphageek team, but what would they advise current graduates looking to make a go of it in business?
“Make friends with people aspiring to the same kind of goals you have,” Alex says. “You’ll go so much further without even noticing - just by being around people pushing in a similar direction. It also makes it a lot more fun when you experience success together.
“The other piece of advice is to be bold and actively take calculated risks with proper preparation, as these decisions are often where the leaps are made. All three of us made the jump in different ways initially, and each of us would comfortably say it was the best decision we ever made.
“We’ve grown significantly in both size and expertise. Our goal is to be at the top of our industry within five to ten years. We’re already industry-leading in terms of results, so now just scaling and looking to see how far we can take it!"