Six years ago, Luke Quilter completed a new challenge – kayaking around 150 miles of Kent coastline. And while bobbing along the Channel outside Folkestone, the digital start-up guru experienced a moment of perspective.
“Looking back at the shore, you see the hustle and bustle of people getting to and from work juxtaposed with the families on the beach having fun and relaxing. It makes you realise that this is a relatively unique place, where you can be in the mix of being busy, while a few hundred metres offshore you can be quiet and relaxed.
“Folkestone is extraordinary from a business perspective.”
Together, Luke Quilter and business partner Anthony Klokkou launched Sleeping Giant Media in 2008, growing it from a dining table start-up to a multi-award winning, Google-partnered agency with 56 employees. It’s also one of the coolest offices in the UK, let alone Kent.
The duo admits that at first, they assumed you’d need to move to London to be successful.
“It wasn’t planned,” Luke says, “it was where we lived. It just so happened to be an amazing place for a young business to start and grow.
“It is cheaper (than London) when it comes to office space, which is really important if you are a start-up looking to stretch every penny to bring that business dream to life.”
Since 2012, their staff has grown by 577% and the majority of employees live less than 20 miles from Folkestone.
For Sleeping Giant Media, the talent pool in Kent should be a huge draw for businesses looking to grow fast. The work-life balance Folkestone offers also holds appeal.
“My house is a short drive away,” says Luke. “So I can enjoy time with the family before and after work. At weekends, we go to the beach or up to the Downs to soak up the views of the countryside. When we fancy, we can jump on a train to London and be there in under an hour.
“I can’t think of a better place to be.”