Connect with us

Snapshots

Morrisjones&co: Nina Morris & Angel Jones

From small, if not modest beginnings, to astounding success

Juliet Pitman

Published

on

Nina Morris and Angel Jones of Morris Jones and Co

The first thing you notice about NinaMorris and Angel Jones of morrisjones&co is their energy. The atmospherecrackles with the electricity of it. When I visit their swanky offices inWestcliff, Johannesburg, Morris is late after being held up in a previousmeeting and explodes into the room, talking at a mile a minute and introducingherself in-between. Jones contributes at various points in the conversation asthey explain the story of their success. It’s one that involves big nameclients like kulula.com, Wimpy, Virgin Mobile, Southern Sun, McCarthy, KWV andDiscovery, to name but a few.

Jones, who’d been working at M&CSaatchi in London, visited South Africa in 2000 on a scouting mission to find aprospective partner for a local M&C Saatchi operation. At that point,Morris, who’d been working at Leo Burnett, was itching to make a move. “We metover coffee and just clicked. The universe conspired and the planets collidedand within a week we were flying to Londonand within two we were opening an ad agency,” she recalls.“Many people told me I was being overlyambitious to think I was going to find a business partner in somebody I didn’tknow at all,” adds Jones, “but I knew the instant Nina said that if we weregoing to do it, she didn’t want to start in a garage and save funds and buildthe thing up, and that she wanted the smartest address in town, the chemistrywas perfect and she was right.”

Following the ‘go huge or go home’philosophy, the pair used the funding from their parent company to openupmarket offices in the heart of Sandton. “They were tiny but they gave theright impression – and perception is reality in this industry. We knew thatbrains and talent aren’t enough – you need to look the part as well,” saysMorris. “So we opened with an awesome office space and no clients, but wereckoned it was more of a risk not to take a risk,” adds Jones.The risk paid off, as she relates: “Our bigbreak came after six months when Comair approached us to pitch for a new budgetairline they were proposing to call Comair Lite. We were up against four other agencies and in our pitch we suggested they callit kulula.com – derived from the Zulu word for ‘easy’. It was a generic enoughname to allow us to apply it to other brand extensions that we had in mind –cars, beds etc,” she explains. “It also allowed us to communicate the bookingchannel in the name because we didn’t have enough money to do another campaigneducating customers about how and where to book,” Morris adds. Together, theydesigned everything from what the aeroplanes would look like to seat coverfabrics and uniforms.

The break came at a time of enormouspressure from head office in London,who were feeling the pinch as their biggest client, British Airways, cut budgetspending overnight following 9/11. “M&C Saatchi wanted to pull our fundingbut we fought and fought and kept it together, got more and more clients andthen eventually bought them out 18 months after starting. That’s howmorrisjones&co was born,” relates Morris. “We were delighted because itmeant we went from each owning 10% of all the blood and sweat we were puttingin, to owning 50% each. From there, the business just took off. Within a monthwe won Wimpy and Sun International,” Jones adds.That said, there were challenges along theway. When asked what the biggest one was, they both answer at the same time:Cash flow. “It’s the hardest thing entrepreneurs face but if you can manage itwell you will succeed. If you can’t, you will go down. And there were timeswhen we had to personally fund the business. But no matter how difficult it gotwe had a hunger and passion and a commitment to succeed. There was never anyquestion in our minds that we wouldn’t make it. We’ve taken risks but they’vebeen calculated ones – and we’ve certainly had a mixture of both luck andmagic,” says Morris. It’s a magic that has lead to big-name clients,vertigo-inducing success and a range of awards, the most recent of which is anomination for the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Awards. Affirmationindeed, but they’ve earned it.

Contact: +27 11 486 1284; www.morrisjones.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

Snapshots

How Nic Haralambous Launched His 6 Year In The Making, Overnight Success

Nic Haralambous launched 8 failing businesses. He used the lessons learnt from that failure to ensure the success of his new business Nic Harry.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-nic-haralambous

Nic Haralambous, the founder and CEO of Nic Harry who started off selling bamboo socks online and now has brick and mortar stores with a larger product range around the country. Nic has also written a book titled Do. Fail. Learn. Repeat. which is a brutally honest look at entrepreneurship and follows Nic’s entrepreneurial journey. Learn from his failures and how he used them as the foundation of his success.

Related: (Podcast) Speak More Honestly

Continue Reading

Snapshots

Vuyo Tofile Of EntBanc Group Talks About Finding Solutions And Partnering To Offer The Most Value

Vuyo Tofile offers his advice on how to know if you’re ready to scale and how to get it right the first time.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-vuyo-tofile

Vuyo Tofile, CEO of EntBanc Group (Pty) Ltd, which is a privately held enterprise and financial technology group. They empower small businesses with the right tools including products such as mySMEtools, which is used by over 46 000 small businesses. Learn about partnering for success, develop tools and resources that your customer base needs, and how can you scale?

Related: Do You Have That 1 In 100 Business That Can Scale And Land An Investor?

Continue Reading

Snapshots

Eben Uys Shares His Concept Behind Mad Giant Brewery And How You Can Make Your Business Stand Out In A Crowd

“You just need to start” says Eben Uys, don’t make up excuses why you aren’t ready. Just start.

CEOwise

Published

on

By

ceowise-entrepreneur-magazine-thumbnail-designs-eben-uys

Eben Uys, Co-founder and CEO of Mad Giant, a Brewery in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa. Eben brings new life to craft beer and has made his brewery and restaurant Urbanologi, a destination hub. His advice: “You can do things that give you short-term gains, but it might not benefit you in the long term. Try a lot of things over a long period of time and build a reputation and a network.”

Related: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing

Continue Reading
Advertisement

SPOTLIGHT

Advertisement

Recent Posts

Follow Us

Entrepreneur-Newsletters
*
We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.
Advertisement

Trending