Tash Menon’s business model for her agency is not a traditional one: MASH promotes agility, efficiency and transparency to offer creative solutions for problems that brands face in the global, ever-changing 21st century economy.
From what started as eight ‘MASHers’, there are now 100 spread across five continents. But what exactly is MASH, you ask? MASH empowers ambitious brands by curating teams of world-class creative, digital, strategic and marketing experts to solve brand challenges. It brings talented creatives together – via referral only – to work in synergy providing the full gamut of creative services.
Through a plug-and-play model, MASH gives world-class creative problem-solvers the freedom to follow their passion and purpose, as well as offering brands the best bang for their buck by eliminating unnecessary overheads generally associated with a traditional creative agency. Brands only pay for the skills they need, when they need them.
In just over three years, MASH has been steadily expanding its presence in multiple continents, all while following a referral-only model that ensures vetted, top-quality talent is available to all its clients. MASHers in the community have an average of 14 years’ experience across a range of creative services for brands such as Nike, WPP, VICE, Coca-Cola, Google and the United Nations.
The business model is a success, and testament to that is MASH’s growth through the events of 2020 and 2021, leading to a 130 per cent year-on-year increase in revenue (by the end of the 2020/21 financial year). MASH has projects that are currently being executed in the UK, South-East Asia, Australia and the US.
Tash credits a large proportion of this success to the shared values held by herself and her business partners (as well as long-time close friends), Sarah Churchlow and Amy Williams, who have grown the business from a dining room table.
Some may say the pandemic outbreak has accelerated digital transformation, that working in silos is the new norm and hence MASH was in the right place at the right time.
However, Tash noticed a trend well before COVID-19 got us all working from home.
In 2019 it was predicted that 80 per cent of the workforce would be freelancing by 2030 (Medium, 2019, Reshaping Work Conference 2019). Tash noticed that many talented creatives who were doing exceptional work and winning awards were choosing to leave agency life, opting for the freedom to choose work that fulfils them. The question she asked herself was: what if I could tap into these people?
This led to mashing together dream teams – a collection of talented individuals from across the globe who are driven by passion, fuelled by imagination and directed by purpose.
The pandemic hasn’t left MASH unscathed, though. Tash and the team were supposed to move to Singapore last year with 45 per cent of their business being generated from South-East Asia, and although the outbreak put a halt to those plans, the business still saw continued growth in the sector.
Through Tash’s journey in the corporate sector and as an entrepreneur, she has faced challenges, setbacks and moments of introspection, but through it all she has persevered and continued to learn. "Learning not in terms of just building a business, but learning in terms of growth and personal mindset change," she says. "There are 100 mistakes to make with every win – you just have to understand that’s part of the process."
Tash credits her grandfather’s work ethic and attitude to treating people well for really influencing her own approach to management and business.
"Having migrated from India to Australia during the 1960s, he was essentially coming from a totally different world," Tash says. "He was a high school teacher, but what stuck with me while I was growing up was his principles, approach to work and work ethic. It doesn’t matter what you do, but rather it is your attitude, empathy and resilience that defines you."
And that approach is what separates MASH from traditional agency counterparts.
"I was used to be on the receiving end of the smoke and mirrors that come part and parcel of many agency pitches," Tash recalls. "The feedback I used to get from my CEO was that sometimes I’m a bit too ‘transparent’ or ‘not playing the game’. To this day, I never understood how business could be done that way – and I went on a mission to find clients and team members who believed the same.
"I am a big believer in surrounding yourself with people who not only look for opportunities and positives in every situation, but who will also tell you when you are wrong and at the same time, encourage you to show up and just look to be better in everything you are doing."