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Rise at Seven won the ‘Agency of the Year’ category at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveal the secrets of their success...



Rise at Seven is a search-first creative agency operating across Sheffield (HQ), London and very recently Chicago. We do things creative all day every day, as long as it works for SEO.

90% of startups fail. An agency which was started with two people in Sheffield, facing the challenge of the global pandemic, has now expanded globally with 70 Risers across both the United Kingdom and America. Our global objective is to become the biggest search agency in the world and we will keep pushing to make this a reality.

Within just two years, we’ve built a thriving agency that people want to work at and with. We are creating a culture where if people see an awesome campaign, they assume it is us. We are delivering industry-leading results and campaigns tying creative and SEO together for the first time and are continuing to grow at an extreme rate.

Our purpose is to pitch the biggest ideas to the biggest brands – against the biggest agencies – and be confident of success. All while building the best SEO agency to work at and with in the world.


The ascent of Rise at Seven

Jan 2019: Carrie Rose auditions for BBC show The Apprentice, asking Stephen Kenwright to help her put together a business plan. Carrie gets to the final auditions (30 people from 40,000) but doesn’t get on. 

Stephen, working as head of digital at automotive retailer Pendragon PLC, runs a pitch process for an SEO agency and finds that they’re all either great at digital PR or great at technical SEO, but none seem to be equally good at both.

Realization: there’s a gap in the industry.

In June 2019, Stephen Kenwright and Carrie Rose launched Rise from Carrie’s living room on a shoestring budget.

Fast forward 20 months, Rise at Seven now has 70 employees across two continents and three different offices. Boots on the ground in Chicago, London and Sheffield delivering SEO, digital PR, content marketing and social across Europe and the States. 2021 growth alone has seen the launch of our American arm and secured partnerships with the likes of TikTok, Buzzsumo and ContentCal.

This has all been done with inbound leads. We have not done any outbound sales. We make noise on social and share everything we know and will continue to do so building the Rise at Seven brand. In Q1 of 2021 we have received 127 inbound leads which works out to be nine leads every single week.

We’ve worked with 79 businesses (that’s four new clients a month for the last two years) including PrettyLittleThing, Matalan, Halfords, Game, Bumble,, Xbox, Playstation, uSwitch, Raisin, UKTV, Flannels, Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, LifeStyleSports,, House of Fraser, GoCompare, MyProtein, Cath Kidston, Halfords, Parkdean Resorts and Odeon. 

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Some things we’re proud of:

  • We’ve got a 97% pitch success rate.

  • We get 100% inbound leads – every single one of our clients sought us out

  • We have landed four new clients every month for the past two years

  • We have already onboarded 27 new members of staff in 2021 (Q1)

  • On track to turn over £3.2m this year

  • We have launched our American side of the business being registered in Chicago

  • We have hired a team of international native speaking experts to help our European offering

  • We’ve won a total of 33 awards (10 in Q1 2021) for work with clients such as Game, Missguided, Under Lucky Stars and Ask Traders and are extremely proud that we won Best Large Agency at the Global Content Awards and Best Large SEO Agency at the UK Search Awards.

  • Achieved 91% in the BestWorkplaces program

  • Launched an agency vlog with 45,000 views

  • We have no gender pay gap (our founders make the same money as each other and force that through the business)

  • We champion diversity through the business with 60% of managers being women and also forming a partnership with SYWT, a social community built to educate and inspire Black and Brown women

  • We have hired a team of native speaking European experts to expand our international service

  • We are expanding our Sheffield HQ to the seventh floor (obviously) of the building we occupy which will give us a total capacity of 110 people.

Along with every other business in the UK we have had to deal with the global pandemic of Covid-19. Many of the world's leading agencies and businesses have adopted a working from home model – with many planning on keeping this way after the pandemic. So what has Rise at Seven done? Invested in a brand new office space in Sheffield, then expanding the space by over 100%, investing in expansion in a new continent despite setbacks with lawyers and the IRS.

We have doubled down on our investment on creating a working space where creativity and culture thrives. We believe having an office post-pandemic will be a unique USP which will make people want to work for us and with us. Rise at Seven is full of brilliant and creative individuals and it would be detrimental for our business not providing a space where we can grow and create together.

Along with our continued investment in the office environment we have had to onboard 50 members of staff through lockdown measures. That works out to be 70% of the entire workforce. We have never all been together in one place. The quick onboarding of staff has forced our processes into shape and meant our efficiency in this process has skyrocketed.


This entry was a winner at The Drum Awards for the Digital Industries 2021. Find out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.