LDC Top 50 2020
Incisive Media started life as a B2B publisher almost 30 years ago. CEO Jonathon Whiteley joined the business in 1998, and watched and learned as it passed through several owners before leading an MBO in 2017.
He has reinvented Incisive as a digital publisher and live events company, focused solely on financial services, technology and sustainable business. “Our reputation is fiercely about being the best in our end markets,” he explains. “We survived the dotcom bust, financial downturn and the pandemic by pivoting quickly in a crisis.” Right now, the technology and sustainable media business is booming: Incisive aspires to hit £50m in turnover by 2025.
How have you grown your business in the last five years?
Incisive Media used to be a sprawling business with many moving parts in multiple sectors across multiple geographies. Then the financial crisis hit, and the business took a knock. The business was split in half and one half was sold off, which allowed me to lead an MBO in 2017. That’s when I changed the focus of the business. Our mantra is: narrow and deep. We are only in five markets but we are real specialists and invest heavily in content and events that help people in those sectors to perform well.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?
It’s all about the people, which is so true in media. Without the right people you can’t achieve anything. That piece of advice came from someone who worked in private equity. I have an incredible leadership team now; the average length of service is more than 10 years. The lower the staff turnover, the more expertise you have in your business.
How important is sustainability to your success?
I’m incredibly proud of our sense of purpose. We have been very vocal around championing sustainability, both within our own business and to our end markets. There are no single-use plastics in our building, we use sustainable suppliers for energy, and even our magazine supply chains are as sustainable as possible. We’re trying to bring the carbon footprint of our events down to zero. Blue chips want to work with companies that uphold the same values as them, so being sustainable has had a big impact on our business.