A Glimpse Into Bay Area Agency Venables Bell & Partners

Its founder’s unlikely success


Who (l. to r.) Lucy Farey-Jones, partner, executive strategy director; Bob Molineaux, founder, president; Paul Venables, founder, executive creative director; Paul Birks-Hay, managing director; Kate Jeffers, head of client services; and Will McGinness, executive creative director

What Advertising agency

Where San Francisco offices

Even as a college student, Paul Venables knew he wanted to open his own agency. His humble start in the industry didn’t augur well, though: He failed typing tests at big agencies until landing his first advertising job—answering the phones. Ultimately, he was recruited by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, where he rose to become co-creative director. He took the leap in 2001, after a former client offered him the chance to start up with Microsoft’s Ultimate TV. Now his agency VBP is one of the Bay Area’s most successful independents, with revenue growing 27 percent last year on organic growth from Google, ConAgra, Audi and Intel.