This week’s entrepreneur spotlight features Martin Porter, an inspirational businessman who has used his success as a springboard to bring about positive change in the world.
Having grown and sold The Centre, a strategic communications agency he co-founded in 2003, Martin now focuses on tackling environmental issues with the European Climate Foundation. From the importance of a complementary management team, to the need for a ‘big why’, we sat down with Martin to discuss his fascinating journey from communications to climate change.
David and Martin first met in 2000, following the acquisition of the Public Affairs agency Martin worked for at the time. David was at BSMG, who bought the agency. The pair began working together, and a few years later, Martin co-founded his communications business: The Centre. David was invited to join the board of directors alongside the original founding team, and over the next 7 years, they worked together to grow the business.
They encountered bumps along the road; like any startup, cash flow was tight and the business had to be managed very carefully. But there was something special about The Centre that kept it going. It wasn’t a typical lobbying or public affairs agency. It was a think-do tank that combined strategic communications with public affairs consultancy. More importantly, it was a forum for debate and discussion which allowed it to offer something unique to the market. The team worked hard to position themselves at the centre of the Public Affairs network in Brussels and focused on building collaborative coalitions.
When we ask Martin why he decided to start The Centre, he explained the opportunity was too great to turn down:
“I had a unique set of circumstances come together that meant I could try something I hadn’t done before. I thought I might not get another chance to do so in the future, so I had to go for it.”
The business grew and had great success; it went on to employ 25 people and achieved a turnover in the region of 5 million euros. It was a profitable business and when it came time to sell, there were several interested parties. In the end, the winning bid came from global PR giant Edelman, with whom Martin stayed for nearly 4 years after the sale. However, his true passion was calling and in 2015 Martin joined the European Climate Foundation, where he’s been working ever since.
It’s no surprise then, that when it comes to business advice, Martin notes the importance of finding your ‘big why’.
“The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is to be clear on what your primary driver is. Why do want to do what you are doing? Is it to make a fortune, to achieve a certain lifestyle, for independence or to fulfil a (social) purpose? For me, it’s always been tackling climate change.”
Martin is a great example of an entrepreneur who has successfully grown and sold a business and is now giving back, by working in a field he is passionate about. We at Add then Multiply were incredibly inspired by this, and are in the process of setting up an educational fund to sit in line with the UN Global Goal number 4: ensuring inclusive and quality education for all. But there’ll be more on that in another post!
With such a fruitful and rewarding career, we asked Martin what he thought the key to business success was.
“Recognising one ingredient alone is not sufficient! At least two ingredients stand out – personal passion and commitment, combined with a senior team whose strengths are complementary and compensate for each other’s weaknesses.”
And finally, his favourite thing about running his own business?
“The sense of autonomy and satisfaction.”
You’ll know that here at Add then Multiply, we love an inspirational quote. Thinking of Martin, this one sprung to mind; “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Martin’s dedication to his big why has allowed him to build an incredibly rewarding career. We hope his story will inspire you, as it has us!
Stay tuned for next week’s installment.