FreshNetworks Beats the Financial Gloom with a Successful First Year

Who says starting a business in a financial slump is a bad idea? Charlie Osmond and Caroline Plumb, founders of FreshMinds, have proved the opposite. Their new social media agency FreshNetworks is just one year old and what a successful year it's been. With digital marketing still growing at pace despite the downturn, social media marketing and the demand for branded online communities is strong. At FreshNetworks, rapid growth has been supported by ongoing recruitment and social media platform development; big-name clients have been won; and the company was awarded 5 million funding in the Bank of Scotland Corporate Entrepreneur Challenge.

In its first year, FreshNetworks created branded online communities for clients across a range of industries. On the B2B front, they created a research community for British Telecom executives across the business came together online to shape a new B2B product line. They also created and managed a customer engagement community for UK leisure firm Butlins, and won new media client Sky and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

On the PR front, FreshNetworks started off with a bang, garnering extensive national press coverage in its first year. Matt Rhodes, Head of Client Services recently interviewed on BBC's Radio 4 where he discussed corporate social networking; and CEO Charlie Osmond was interviewed by the Guardian Newspaper regarding online research communities. The team has also been busy speaking at social media and online engagement conferences, symposiums and forums across Europe with many more booked for 2009.

In September 2008, FreshNetworks won the London regional Bank of Scotland Corporate Entrepreneur Challenge. The prize is an investment package of up to 5 million, free of interest and charges. The funding will be used in the coming year to accelerate FreshNetworks' growth to meet the growing demand across Europe for branded online communities.

In keeping with their focus on remaining at the cutting-edge of social media technology, FreshNetworks constantly updates their social media platform. In 2008, the company released version 2.6, with further updates planned for 2009.

Finally, the FreshNetworks team doubled in 2008. Key hires included Chief Operating Officer Helen Trim and Community Manager Holly Seddon. Helen brings a wealth of experience with 15 years in the digital arena at companies such as Sun Microsystems and United Business Media. She's spent the last eight years working in new media developing online communities for clients such as CIPD and the Foreign Office. Community Manager Holly Seddon has been working in online publishing for nine years, launching and managing online communities for clients such as iVillage and Adoption UK.

With a year of impressive growth and development behind them, the company is set to make waves in the UK digital marketing arena in 2009. Looking ahead, FreshNetworks will again be doubling in size, announcing a diverse set of new clients and releasing version 3.0 of their social media platform.

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