Plus X Brighton
This was just one of the many golden pieces of wisdom and advice, that Marc Convey, Co-founder of Brighton based video innovation agency ‘23D’ shared in the first of our ‘Founders & the future of work’ series which delves deep into the mind of scaling businesses.
We discussed early career experience, effective ways of working with talent, losing 90% of the business overnight in March 2020 and why listening to client’s needs in a time of crisis can open unexpected doors of opportunity.
Spotting a gap in the market
Starting his career in the globe-trotting world of poker commentating, Marc credits his early international freelance experience as vital to the Co-founder position he holds today.
“I was lucky enough to travel to the biggest poker events in the world and my role involved live blogging and media co-ordination. I’d watch how videos were being created at the events, and how demand for immediate content was rising. At the time, many of the people creating the content had historically been from TV production and they were used to much longer times to turn around a piece of engaging content. I spotted a gap in the market for a faster turn-around service.”
Becoming innovation focused
Marc met James Beer, a creative video editor who would complement his experience for engaging content and his black book of contacts and the two of them decided to combine their talents. 23D (then 23 Digital) was born in 2017 and armed with a network of freelancers, Marc and James went after as much business as they could.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. “We reached a bit of a ceiling where regulations in the game were changing and as a small business, we didn’t always have the infrastructure some of the larger contracts needed. Our model was very much based on events and we were finding it tough to scale and keep the quality.”
Feeling fatigued by constant travel, and with James starting a family, the two of them decided to scale back and re-group. This led to them exploring how they could be more innovation focused. Today, their approach incorporates animation, drones, augmented and virtual reality and an insatiable thirst to push how video content is created, delivered and consumed. With a full time team and a pool of creative freelancers, they hold an impressive array of local and international clients, including some of the UK’s biggest utility brands.
Losing 90% of business overnight
Marc admits 2020 hasn’t been an easy ride. When the pandemic hit, they lost 90% of their business overnight, a scary statistic felt by many businesses in this unprecedented time. “We lost a huge 6-month project and we realised we were about to be really tested as a business. After 4-5 days of shock, we knew from previous experience that when your back is against the wall, innovation and agility will see you through. The first thing we did is go out to our clients and ask them what they need help with. One client was meant to have been hosting their biggest revenue earning event of the year in New York which was an awards ceremony in Manhattan. They needed to make it ‘wow’ enough online to be able to still generate ticket revenue.”
23D spent a month working with various global teams to plan it out and work out how guests from across the globe could take part. With a magnificent animation of the venue, the iconic Cipriani hotel in Manhattan and 1500 Avatars of guests, award winners and presenters, 23 Digital impressed the highly reputable list of attendees.
Marc credits the success of this project to the amazing talent of his excellent freelancers which helped 23 Digital raise the bar for clients like this in a time of crisis. I quiz Marc on working with freelance talent and how he plans to integrate them into his future plans.
Networking with freelance talent and like minded businesses
“I like having a fluid organisational model with some key staff, project managers, operations etc full time but still using freelance talent. It can keep overheads low yes, but it also means the freelancers are out there working on other projects which fuels their creativity. That benefits us and our clients at 23D. To add to that, I work with talent from around the world, so remaining agile in this time is key, it’s not just the pandemic, but Brexit and a new American president, all these things impact our future and the people we work with around the world.”
Whilst working on a global basis, 23D are based in the Plus X Brighton Innovation Hub and love to make the most of networking and partnering with local businesses in the building. We often see them identifying a challenge for one member and working with another member to help solve it. “Being here has been such a great benefit for us this year. I think we moved into the building on a Monday and already by the Thursday we were working with other members, helping them solve problems with digital solutions”.
Inspiring digital transformation
According to an October 2020 Mckinsey and Co report on digital transformation in the Covid19 Pandemic, recent data has shown that we vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks when the pandemic hit.
“Larger companies we are working with interestingly find it harder to implement digital transformation, despite having big teams, they just aren’t very agile. 2020 has forced them to jump in the water. The rest of us are already in the water encouraging them to jump in and swim with us to the tropical island of digital transformation. Once they do, they realise it’s actually quite refreshing”.
Knowledge is power
I ask Marc if he has any final comments for other business owners out there, particularly the younger ones trying to set up new agencies. “knowledge is power, if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t trying hard enough. Gather as much knowledge as you can, keep learning and network like crazy. Don’t spend your time looking at what everyone else is doing, focus on your own business, what makes you unique and keep pushing forwards”.
It’s clear that 23D are seeing a window of opportunity in the events of 2020 and we’ve no doubt we’ll be covering more of their growth story in the coming years here at Plus X Brighton.
Find out more about 23D here. If you are also interested in joining the BRITE Innovation programme you can register your interest here. The Brighton Research Innovation Technology Exchange (BRITE) is a business innovation programme for ambitious and established businesses. BRITE could provide you with specialist research and development expertise as well as the support and facilities to make your business growth journey a reality.