Oystercatchers trio jump ship to launch rival start-up

AlchemistsThree former Oystercatchers executives – managing partners Angus Crowther and Vladimir Komanicky and data analyst Tilly Small – have joined forces to launch a new rival to the Centaur-owned agency marriage broker, called Alchemists.
The consultancy will combine creativity with the logic of data and have three specialist offerings: agency pitch and performance; production and in-housing; and marketing advisory and commercial services.
Crowther and Komanicky left Oystercatchers last year at the end of their earn-out period; Centaur paid £3.35m for the firm in 2016. Small left earlier this year.
Crowther joined Oystercatchers in 2009, having spent a decade at EHS Brann (now Havas Helia), although he does have a “side-hustle” farming business, as well as an award-winning vineyard. At Alchemists, he will be responsible for managing pitches and agency performance.
Komanicky joined Oystercatchers in 2016, just eight months before the Centaur deal. Prior to that he held senior roles at Mars, RBS, GSK, the John Lewis Partnership and Vodafone. He will be responsible for overseeing production, in-housing and marketing, advisory and commercial services at the start-up.
Small also joined Oystercatchers in 2016 as a project executive; she will be head of projects and data at Alchemists.
Unlike its competitors, the consultancy will not charge pitch or membership fees to agencies; instead clients will pay for the process. The consultancy says it will also not conduct pitches over Christmas, bank holidays or half term, which it claims will make the service more suitable to modern working life – it will also give Crowther more time to tender his grapes, of course.
Crowther said: “We asked senior agency heads and clients to help us develop our business’ proposition and the findings included: compete transparency, independence and objectivity during the pitch – and at speed. Alchemists work with consultants, brands and agencies, and we can flex business capabilities to find the right solution for business problems.”
Komanicky added: “The existing consultancy and advisory business models need to refocus to an approach that drives clear outcomes. Commerciality is critical within our process, as is human interaction. We will deliver small- and large-scale consultancy projects, which help clients deliver key change initiatives quickly while removing potential risks from choosing unsuitable partners.”

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