Court favourites often prove most dangerous to the throne. Mike Bokaie says he was the ‘blue-eyed boy’ at the Institute of Directors (IoD), where he directed its advertising and launched a successful conference division. But that did not stop him leaving in 1996 with six top IoD staff to set up Caspian Publishing. ‘We wanted to do our own thing and found the IoD too restrictive,’ says Bokaie. ‘We all had a track record in the industry and didn’t want to be blocked from publishing something we thought was a good idea simply because someone at the IoD didn’t like it.’ Bokaie’s first magazine was Real Business, aimed at entrepreneurs. He followed this up with three other niche titles: Real Deals, aimed at venture capitalists; Real Finance, for finance directors; and Business Voice, for directors of small and medium-sized firms. Caspian also publishes 14 other contract magazines and runs an events and conference business. Such expansion has boosted sales 88% a year from £614,000 in 1997 to £4.1m in 2000, when it employed 33 staff.
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