Mike Curtis and Darren Whittingham shared a room at art college and 10 years later, in 1996, went on to found their own graphic design agency, Start Design. With no clients at the outset, Curtis wrote to contacts he had made while working for Fitch, the large design consultancy, informing them that his new brand-development company was open for business. He won a contract with Virgin Atlantic. Work for other Virgin companies followed, including Virgin Mobile and Virgin One. Start Design later helped to manage Virgin Atlantic’s 1999 rebranding. Other high-profile clients include The Times, Royal Mail and Avis, helping to drive up sales at the London company by 79% a year from £838,000 in 1997 to £4.8m in 2000, when it had 25 staff.
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