At the age of 17, Simon was expelled from school halfway through his A-levels because he refused to go into lessons. He spent the next four months lounging about at home. While his parents were away on holiday he took their car for a spin even though he didn’t have a licence. He crashed and the vehicle was written off. It was the final straw for his parents. Simon had a huge row with them and moved out the next day.
He found a bedsit and got a job cleaning a Boots shop at 5am each morning. He did this for five months until he turned 18 and then got a job with an advertising company booking appointments to sell advertising space. Mansell soon found he was good at it. After he had been in his second advertising job for a year he told his boss he wanted to set up his own business but was willing to continue working for him four days a week on a commission-only basis. It was a calculated move. He started working very hard indeed. In the first month of the new arrangement he earned £23,000 in commission.
Simon took the money and the following month, September 2001, used it to start his own business selling internet advertising. The timing was not good because by this point many dotcom businesses were going bust. But Simon realised that this gave him the opportunity to buy advertising space very cheaply. He decided that the way to make his business stand out would be to guarantee the results of his campaigns, so that clients would pay only for the sales the advertising generated. It was a high-risk strategy because if the numbers fell short, Simon would end up out of pocket by having to pay for advertising space himself.
It was tough work getting clients but Simon persisted and last year his company, TBG London, had a turnover of £13.6m and is now working with some international names, including American Express, Harrods, Cornhill, Dating Direct and Moneysupermarket.com Simon is increasingly recognised as a thought-leader in the industry. He sits on the IPA’s Digital Media Council and was voted Media Week’s Young Person of the Year in 2005.