Shaper: Mike Soutar

Show aired on 21st March 2015


Mike Soutar is co-founder and CEO of Shortlist Media Ltd, the market-leading premium, free magazine publisher. ShortList has dominated the men’s market since 200, and Sister title Stylist was launched in October 2009 to industry-wide acclaim. The accompanying websites each have in excess of half a million UK unique users per month.

In 2011, the company launched its first stand-alone digital brand, Emerald Street, a daily email for stylish, professional women, which now has in excess of 100,000 registered daily subscribers. Mr Hyde, a daily email for urban, affluent men, was launched in October 2012 and has already built a following of 60,000 plus. In April 2014, Stylist launched a tablet edition which reaches over 30,000 active readers per week. It is now the most downloaded women’s title on Apple’s UK newsstand.

In April 2013, the company launched a French language weekly edition of Stylist in joint venture with Groupe Marie Claire. French Stylist is distributed in 10 French cities in April 2013. The brand’s second overseas edition – Stylist Arabia – launched in Dubai in October 2014. ShortList is scheduled to launch in the Middle East in 2015.

Shortlist Media was established as an independent start-up in 2007 with five employees.  It now has over 140 full-time employees and provides part time employment for more than 600 merchandisers every week across Britain.

Mike and the company appeared in an episode of The Apprentice in 2011 and Mike has featured as one of Lord Sugar’s advisors in the interview episodes of the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Over a 30 year career, Mike has worked for a variety of media companies on both the editorial and management side, in print, digital and broadcasting, and in the UK and America.

Follow Mike on Twitter @mikesoutar

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I was always a fairly average journalist who worked with some quite brilliant ones.

Whilst I always think I am right with anything that I say, I’ve worked with enough great people to know that I am not. I have played my part in all of the brands that I have been involved in, but the credit goes to the whole team almost all the time.

I moved from being the editor of FHM and was given this extraordinary opportunity to take what was a young and vibrant station – but by no means the finished article – and kind of learn how to run it.

We accidentally moved from being consultants into being media owners, into having something that would survive if we both got knocked over by a bus – that was really what drove us.

We had a very clear market to serve and we had a very clear idea of the things that this magazine for men was going to stand for.

We wanted to do everything that we could to make them better, to help them be the best possible version of themselves, so it was still a frothy, entertaining mix of content, but it had a real noble purpose behind it – like most great media does.

Great investors back people first and ideas second. Ideas flex and change and evolve all the time whereas people… they’re what you’re really backing.

I am emotional, I am very passionate about our business, I am very passionate about the people there, I am very passionate about our advertisers, but I am also, I hope, professional.

I suppose I missed the drinking and the casual sex that I would have gone on at university, but over and above that I am fairly happy with how I got on.

We are now at the start of a rising economy. Get out there.