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Ad Legend John Hegarty Launches Tech Incubator

Sir John Hegarty, founder of BBH, turns his attention to discovering the next startup stars.

Ad Legend John Hegarty Launches Tech Incubator
Sir John Hegarty and Tom Teichman [Photos: Rory Lindsay]

Sir John Hegarty, the acclaimed creative and co-founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, is starting a new venture aimed at launching future business entrepreneurs. 

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Hegarty, alongside the venture capitalist Tom Teichman, has launched an incubator for seed-stage companies in London, called The Garage. U.K.-based entrepreneurs in any sector are invited to pitch their business ideas, but they must meet three important criteria, Hegarty says. The startups must disrupt a current business model, they have to be scalable, and Hegarty and his team need to like the people behind them.

Sir John Hegarty and Tom Teichman

Hegarty and Teichman will invest up to $80,000 in each startup in exchange for a minority share of their business. They will also provide them with expertise and business advice and the use of desk space at The Garage’s Soho offices.

Teichman, the founder of Spark Ventures, has previously backed businesses such as Mind Candy, the company behind Moshi Monsters, and the U.K. ecommerce site Notonthehightsreet.com. Hegarty’s career in advertising, marketing and brand building spans almost fifty years. Hegarty and Teichman have invested in start-ups together in the past, such as Mind Candy, and see their partnership in The Garage as a natural progression.

Hegarty says: “We were beginning to build this portfolio of businesses that we were helping to get going, using his venture capitalist skills and my branding skills, and we realized we really had something to offer and that we should formalize it.”

The startups will also receive support from Michael Acton Smith, the founder of Mind Candy, and Holly Tucker, the Notonthehighstreet.com founder, who will be advisors at The Garage, taking on the title of “mechanics.” Nick Kendall, the former BBH worldwide strategy director, and BBH’s global director of engagement planning, Kevin Brown, will also act as advisors.


The chosen entrepreneurs will be able to attend seminars and lectures from the crowd-funding platform Crowd Cube, which will also be based at The Garage.

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Entrepreneurs are invited to create a video pitching their idea, running no longer than three minutes. From these videos, The Garage team will create a shortlist of contenders who will be invited into the premises to pitch again in person. Following that, six businesses will be chosen.
Hegarty says that where start-ups can fail is by not focusing on their brand and that this is where The Garage can help. “The thing that separates you from your competitors isn’t necessarily what you’re offering, it’s the value of your brand. We’re helping guide people in the early stages on how you build a brand,” he says.

Hegarty will take an active role at The Garage and will spend the majority of his week working with the startups there. He also continues in his global ambassadorial role at BBH and working one day a week at the London agency.

“We’re taking all of our experience and putting it into play now helping these young companies grow. It’s great for me to be able to do that and hopefully something these young companies will benefit from,” Hegarty says.