Copylab was founded by Ross Hunter in February 2006.
Ross freely admits that the idea back then was to create a ‘lifestyle business’ in which he could do a bit of freelance investment writing and spend lots of time with his young family. In fact, he resigned from Standard Life Investments a week after finding out his wife Sam was expecting their first child. It was a case of ‘now or never’.
That hunch worked pretty well. AXA Investment Managers became Copylab’s first client, closely followed by a hardy bunch of other trusting asset managers. In some ways, though, the hunch worked too well. In the summer of 2012, Ross spent an entire summer ‘holiday’ working, which was certainly not part of the ‘lifestyle’ plan.
A change was needed. A decision had to be made – either to scale back and retreat into freelancer mode, or to go for it and try to grow the business into something more than a one-man band.
Ross decided an itch needed to be scratched. So he hired Stuart in September 2012 to help develop Copylab’s business in London. By January 2013, we were ready to hire two writers – Paul and Duncan joined Ross in Glasgow to set up our fledgling operation. We were up and away.
We were relatively successful in attracting new asset management clients, and the business grew quickly. Many of them are large multinationals, so in 2015 Ross decided to explore the opportunity of working for our existing clients in other parts of the world.
We immediately picked up work from two large American firms and established Copylab Inc. in December 2015. Our North American office is led by John Connolly, who has built a fantastic team of client-facing staff and writers across the continent, and has developed a strong and fast-growing business.
In 2016, Copylab’s first staff member, Paul Lees, left Glasgow for Singapore and set up Copylab PTE Ltd. Since then, Paul has developed our client base in Singapore and Hong Kong, and has set up partnerships with like-minded firms in Australia and the Middle East.
Elsewhere in Europe, we began to attract new clients in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In 2018, we opened a small office in Zurich.
Meanwhile, 2018 also brought some important promotions to the UK. Niels Footman became the Managing Director for the UK and Europe, while Emma Axelson was appointed Chief Operating Officer.
As for Ross’s supposed ‘lifestyle business’, well, that was firmly consigned to history. But the growth plan did have a happy outcome. Ross judges the success of recent years on being able to take a holiday and leave work behind for a few days. And that’s something he’s been able to do for the first time in several years – which Mrs Hunter is happy about (apart from the frequent overseas adventures).
How will the Copylab story unfold from here? We’ve got some exciting plans for 2019 and beyond. But you’ll just have to wait, won’t you? So watch this space.