Disillusioned by the nine-to-five standards of traditional employment, more and more graduates are filled with entrepreneurial spirit and striking out into the world of business with new ideas and hungry attitudes towards revolutionising industry. Narce Media, founded by Joseph Housley and Connor Watt, showcases how graduate entrepreneurship can build businesses that break the mould.
As final year business students at Aston University, Housley and Watt were determined to establish their own company after finding themselves disillusioned by with the idea of the typical nine-to-five role. They initially launched a podcast interviewing university lecturers and staff members about their stories and experiences, from staying in North Korea to building AI and robots.
“We pitched our business plan to Aston’s entrepreneur competition that was sponsored by Santander, and we were awarded second place and £250. But we soon realised that the podcast wasn’t going work for us long term so the first thing we did with the prize money was buy a camera and some new microphones.”
After spending a few months getting used to the camera and developing their video creation abilities, Housley and Watt began to commercialise their video service during their final exams, knocking on the door of everyone and anyone they knew to see if they wanted to record videos for their business. It wasn’t an easy project to commit to; both graduates picked up other jobs to support their business in the very early stages. During their time working in call centres and kitchens, the pair developed a subscription model for Narce Media which created more consistent income for the company, rather than relying on one-off payments from individual customer projects.
“It had turned into a ‘feast and famine’ situation waiting for our next client. We developed the subscription model so we could produce videos consistently for businesses. It’s all well and good to have one video but easily consumable content like videos gets the most engagement, it’s why platforms like TikTok have exploded. The biggest and best brands don’t just make one video, they are constantly updating them, making new ones with new graphics and information. Our business model allows us to partner with businesses, properly understand their brand and their messaging so we can design videos that truly highlight and boost their company.”
After signing a few subscription clients, Housley and Watt were able to commit to Narce Media full time, working with big names like Santander, TEDx, IBM, and HP. By the end of 2019, their team had expanded, taking on recent fellow graduates and creating opportunities for young, qualified professionals to break into a highly competitive industry.
Working on sets to record videos became impossible during 2020 but the pair saw the opportunity to pivot, creating motion graphics for businesses that still engaged customers. With everyone working from home, more people than ever were consuming media via social media and online platforms like YouTube. The business pivoted concentrated on providing clients with animations, motion graphics, and re-purposed stock footage that gave them with the content they needed to continue reaching their customers during lockdowns.
While the young team currently specialises in commercial and social videos and promotional materials, they are determined to find success in the world of documentaries. Enthusiastic about storytelling and making an impact on audiences, the Narce Media team have big goals of working with the BBC or Netflix.
“We are passionate storytellers, so we are developing the documentary and TV section of our business, building our skills and abilities to be in the position to pitch our narratives and our scripts to producers like the BBC or Netflix. That’s the ideal, that’s the goal we are working towards. One of our team members is originally from the USA and the television and film market in America is on a totally different level. Getting a branch established in the USA is going to be a huge challenge but we are building the network we need, and the reputation we want, so we are hopeful to do it in the next few years.”
It is quite the reputation already, as Narce Media were nominated for this year’s Birmingham Award’s, becoming finalists for the Excellence in Media award. Having created Narce Media from scratch, without third party investments, Housley, Watt, and their team of graduates have succeeded in a cut-throat industry with their ingenuity and determination.
“You’ve got to be resilient and adaptable If something isn’t working, look for a new solution and keep trying. Growing your own business with your own money and your own two-hands is hard work but creating a team of reliable and talented people that you trust is invaluable. Getting amazing feedback from clients about how much they enjoyed working with us has absolutely reinforced our confidence in what we are doing.”