Silicon Canals recently put together a list of top UK-based PR agencies that can help businesses grow and achieve success. Today we are taking a closer look at one of them – namely, Drofa Comms.
Founded by the duo of friends Valentina Drofa and Mary Poliakova, Drofa Comms is an international PR consultancy focusing on financial and FinTech companies across the world. Working directly with public opinion, they help shape the trends of the FinTech market, and allow companies to become known.
Headquartered in London, UK, and with offices across the world, Drofa Comms counts among the fastest growing PR agencies worldwide, according to the 2022 ranking by Provoke. The company is also a member of PRCA, the world’s largest and most influential professional body for PR companies and experts.
Drofa Comms success is owed to the partnership between its leaders, who come from rather different walks of life. Valentina, the company’s founder and CEO, originally began her path in financial markets. Today she is an entrepreneur with 15 years of experience and is recognised among the Top-64 women in Startups.
Mary, Drofa Comms co-founder and COO, traces her roots back to the field of journalism. She has over 20 years of background in financial journalism and PR and is a member of IPRA, one of the leading global networks for Public Relations specialists and thought leaders.
We sat down with the two partners to talk about their business, and how the combination of their respective skills and know-hows allows them to run a successful ship and get things done.
What is Drofa Comms? How do you position yourself and what is it that you offer to your clients?
Valentina & Mary: Drofa Comms is an international PR consultancy focusing on financial and fintech companies across the world. Working directly with public opinion, we observe and shape the trends that make up this market.
Many of the clients we work with are innovators, constantly putting in the effort to push forward the existing boundaries of what’s possible in FinTech. As such, we at Drofa Comms always feel the need to develop accordingly and keep up with the tides.
This market is ever changing, and it falls to us to observe these changes, and offer promotional services to our clients most relevant to them under the conditions in which they operate. The content that we write and publish on behalf of our clients contributes to shaping market trends.
What motivated you to start Drofa Comms, and why did you choose to operate in the fintech market specifically?
Valentina: I originally began working in the financial market in 2007 – this field has been the single focus of my whole professional life. I started out as a regular account manager at a trading company, but soon understood that a simple desk job was not enough to satisfy me. I have always had an active desire to act independently, a willingness to do things my own way, even with possible risks in mind. So attempting to run my own business seemed like a logical step from there.
The reason why I chose to specialise the consultancy in the FinTech market is because it seemed like a natural progression from my financial roots. And there is also the fact that this sector has always been fascinating and highly engaging in my eyes. The development of FinTech is happening at such a rapid pace that I never find myself bored or feeling like I’ve reached my limit with this market. Each new client that we work with brings something new to learn and new challenges to overcome.
Could you tell us about some of your biggest achievements to date?
Valentina: Over the course of its history Drofa Comms has had a good run with many accomplishments to our name. But what I find most important to mention are the various innovations that took place in our agency in the last couple of years.
As a result of these developments, Drofa Comms greatly boosted its performance, to the point that we took 13th position in the ranking of 250 fastest growing PR agencies worldwide. Another point of pride is that for the UK region we are considered in the TOP-5, and it has only been a year since we’ve opened an office in this region.
I am proud of our team, as this is a great indicator of how much we’ve grown, as well as of our future potential. I am also very proud of Mary in this regard, because a major part of running a successful business is in having good partners. Whenever I seek to introduce something new to the company in an attempt to improve our work, she always acknowledges my ideas and seeks to make them work.
What can you tell us about the current FinTech Market? What trends do you see here?
Valentina: Fintech is an industry that is developing at a very fast pace, and we observed that many traditional financial companies over the past years have been seeking to integrate themselves into this market, adapting to the global changes in order to stay relevant.
The development of blockchain technology, the introduction of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, became another major milestone in the transformation of the global fintech market. These events created a shift in mindset, leading to digital assets becoming a topic of interest on a scale that hadn’t been seen before.
Of course, considering the state of 2022, we can’t go over the FinTech market without mentioning the crypto winter, and how it froze or drove many companies out of business. But it is not all bad. We’ve seen examples of industry players pushing through the downturn, reorganising their businesses and reimagining products. Despite the harsh conditions, the interest in FinTech has not waned a bit – the market players simply became more assertive.
In my experience, people who come into fintech are the ones that always want something more, to push against the boundaries of what is available to them now. So long as that desire endures, I’m sure we will see this market recover before long.
Having led your own business for over a decade, what would you say are the biggest lessons you have learned?
Mary: Personally, the most important lesson I have learnt is the importance of the team. At Drofa Comms it is my job to manage our people and put together teams that would best work with our clients. So I have always considered hiring people to be one of the main challenges that I face regularly.
If your product or service achieves success, 70-80% of it is the merit of the team effort. And my task as a leader is to select the right personnel, motivate them to do a good job, and make sure that they want to stay with us. What kind of employees you take on determines how far your business can go. And just as we choose to hire these people, they have to choose to stay with us in return. In many ways this is equally as difficult as finding a reliable business partner, if not more so.
How does Drofa Comms maintain its success?
Mary: The crypto market and FinTech overall are markets that develop at a rapid pace. To maintain success, it is important for our agency to always keep a finger on the pulse. To this end, our managers monitor top international media every day in order to stay ahead of the news agenda.
Often we employ the services of experts, hiring them as consultants to deepen our knowledge on the market tendencies. We also make sure to attend all the most prominent industry events around the world, both in FinTech and in PR. This is an important point to highlight – to achieve success, it is important to keep up with the latest trends. And industry events tend to bring together thought leaders that stand at the forefront and push the sector forward. Thus we put a lot of importance in mingling with this crowd.
All these measures help us better understand the market, communicate with our clients on the same level, and bolster our PR services by ensuring that we can pinpoint exactly what our clients need in their communications strategy.
What plans does Drofa Comms have for the future? Where are you going?
Valentina & Mary: Our development is closely tied to the state of the FinTech market and where our clients are closely concentrated. Few companies that come to us ever want promotion across just one region. We originally opened an office in Cyprus, and later moved our headquarters to the UK, because that’s where our clients positioned themselves at the time, and it looked like the most attractive region for further development
Now we are interested in expanding our presence in other regions, such as the US and UAE. New York and Dubai are both prominent financial hubs in their own right, and many companies want to be present there. As such, opening offices there may turn out to be beneficial in the future.
But for the time being this is only an idea – it will probably be a few more years before we take action in this direction.