Dez Derry is the founder and CEO of mmadigital, digital marketing specialist in the legal sector. The company was founded in 2011 as a digital agency and has recently changed direction to focus entirely on customer acquisition for law firms using industry-first technology.

mmadigital is based in Didsbury, Manchester, and currently has a team of 13 with plans to expand and offer credible alternative careers for law graduates. The business is on track for £4.5 million in the current year.

Prior to setting up his own business, Dez worked at Yell Group PLC (now Hibu) for seven years as a key account manager, managing a £5 million digital and print portfolio across blue chip brands, law firms and SMEs. This required an in-depth understanding of the digital marketing mix, including website, Google Adwords, video and SEO. His natural leadership qualities and success in a management role spurred him to take the leap and set up his own business.

When was mmadigital founded and what does your business do?

I founded mmadigital in 2011 as a digital agency to the legal services market and changed the direction of the business in 2016 to focus solely on technology-powered qualified lead generation for law firms. Our technology collates data from potential claimants and our experienced team then qualifies each lead before it is referred to a panel of law firms who can chose to pursue the case.

We operate through a number of disruptive online consumer brands to advise potential claimants and collect leads, including The Compensation Experts and The Medical Negligence Experts.

We’re on the lookout to team up with other legal experts that specialise in a particular field. For example, we recently teamed up with medico-legal consultancy, Collaboras, to support the generation of highly-qualified leads in the medical negligence and personal injury space.

What or who was the inspiration for the current business path you are on?

With ‘no win, no fee’ terms becoming the industry norm, I spotted a demand in the market for highly qualified leads and customer acquisition services. It was also an opportunity to introduce innovation to what is a very traditional industry and a chance to truly disrupt the market.

Is there one bit of advice you wish you’d been given before you started at mmadigital?

I can think of several:

  1. Recruiting the right talent is crucial to business success so it’s worth investing the time to get it right.
  2. Take a more strategic approach to business decisions with a financial model in place rather than relying on gut feel.
  3. Build a business with recurring revenue.
  4. Be prepared to make sacrifices. Owning a business involves working long hours, often at the expense of any kind of work/life balance.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned with mmadigital? 

How to run a business. I’ve had to be really hands-on from the outset and had to learn how to find the right staff and develop my understanding of the legal sector.

What do you see as your future business challenges? 

Moving into new markets and at pace; it’s crucial to build a comprehensive understanding of all new markets for the business model to be credible and successful. We expect that this will drive turnover to above £6 million within the next three years.

What would you like to leave as your business legacy?

A market disruptor – mmadigital is responsible for supplying leads to some of the UK’s leading law firms and fee earners. We believe we’re currently capturing 20-25% of enquiries in our chosen consumer legal markets and we expect this to increase significantly over the next few years.

What is your biggest achievement/success so far?

Transforming a traditional digital agency into a customer acquisition business with a completely new business model within just six months. This has been a huge success and within the first year we achieved £900,000 turnover.

When you’re not working, what do you do to relax?

I like to keep fit and enjoy Muay Thaiboxing and hiking. I also love to travel the world as much as I possibly can and spend time with friends.

What has been your biggest achievement outside of business?

As a business we’ve helped many charities including the Princes Trust and Coppa Feel. I’m also very proud to hold a purple belt in Muay Thai. The sport requires lots of high kicks and balancing on one leg and I initially had very little flexibility and balance. After three years of training I’ve come a long way!

What would you be doing if you weren’t at your current role? 

I’d love to work for the National Trust – they do a great job in preserving the country’s natural beauty, which me and my partner enjoy most weekends and have done for a number of years. The trust relies on volunteers and it would allow me to keep my walking boots on!

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