Olly and Alex, our two co-founders, first met while working at WPP media agency MEC as part of the team helping to transition the prestigious EE Telecoms account from MEC to Maxus, another of WPP’s agencies. Olly worked as a specialist in digital ad channels, while Alex was responsible for full-channel media planning.
As part of a global restructure at WPP to consolidate their agency network, Olly and Alex both moved together to Essence, WPP’s digital specialist agency, and continued working closely together on a number of accounts.
Olly made the decision to leave his role at Essence, to work as a freelancer helping SMEs to accelerate their marketing. A few months after, Alex also decided to leave Essence to be able to spend more time with his parents who were living in Thailand.
In a quiet pub called the Lore of the Land on Conway Street in Fitzrovia, London, Alex and Olly both met up with some old colleagues and got chatting about the potential of bringing their skillsets together to help new clients and taking what we’d learnt working with big global companies to help smaller businesses, startups and challenger brands. The idea of Bambu was born, although at this point it didn’t have a name.
Over the course of the next few months, regular meetings in various co-working spaces across London gradually moved our founders closer to setting up Bambu. The name was chosen from a long list of potential options that all signified growth, with the bamboo tree being the fastest growing plant, and the unusual spelling was chosen as it’s commonly written that way in Asia, where we would be partly based, as well as to help stand out.
This is when we had our first breakthrough came, when the newly founded Bambu signed their first client; a startup interior design company who needed help with building a new website and launching their ad campaigns.
Alex made the move to Bangkok, where he began setting up our operations in Asia, with the plan to split his time between the UK and Thailand. Shortly after relocating to Bangkok, Alex took what was planned to be a short trip to Manila to visit old friends and speak to potential clients. The trip was originally planned to just be 2 weeks…
The Rest Is History
We all know what came next. Covid hit and a major global shutdown meant that Alex was stranded in the Philippines. Back in London, by pure coincidence the paperwork for Bambu’s registration as an official company was rubber stamped on March 23rd, the exact same day that the UK first went into lockdown. It’s fair to say that this was not a great start!
However, what seemed like bad luck turned out to be a much more positive. By adapting quickly to the growing demand for support from e-commerce startups, and hiring some fantastic technical talent in Manila, Bambu was able to successfully navigate a very tricky first year, and by early 2021 we had a team of 6 and were working with 20 clients based in the UK, USA, Philippines and Singapore.
Alex never looked back and now lives full time in Manila, working closely with our APAC clients and overseeing our technical team, while Olly continues to live in London managing our UK and US clients and overseeing our strategy team. We have maintained the structure that we stumbled upon during 2020, and having two bases has enabled us to service our clients much better than we ever expected, mixing local strategic knowledge with highly experienced technical skills and close to 24 hour coverage thanks to working in two timezones, all packaged in a way that is commercially viable for the growing businesses of today, as they work towards becoming the market leaders of tomorrow.