Features - Entrepreneurial Alumni
Posted 01 May 2017
New York Program
March 2013 Intake
Joe, a graduate of Bournemouth University, UK, is the joint founder and Director of November Digital Ltd. They create Digital Promotional Content for brands. The company only works in the digital space, so all of their work is essentially for life on the internet - Social Media / Video Platforms / Websites etc. The scope of their work ranges from graphic design, video production, animation, illustration, all the way through to owning and art directing a brand's entire social media channel.
Joe established November over two and a half years ago, with the intention of standing for something and attracting a very particular client (to begin with), in order to stand out from other similar businesses. His proudest moment in the lifespan of November was getting on the agency roster for one of the world’s largest alcohol companies - and doing so only two months after setting up as an agency!
How did you get into this line of business?
My background is, and always has been in Advertising. However, it was only when I was in NYC on Mountbatten that my role required me to have a solely digital perspective (Social Media Manager for Newmark Grubb Knight Frank). During this year I realised that the digital space was becoming - and now is - the first point of contact for all brand communications. So on return to the UK, I decided to tie all of my experience together and try and start my own agency.
How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
Make no mistake, it's hard becoming established. And to be honest, I can’t say we are even now.
The market-place is full of people that offer similar things to what we do. But we decided to try and stand for something, and go after a very particular client (to begin with).
The name November came because both myself and my business partner were advocates of supporting Men's health charities after having numerous friends & family members struck down by illnesses which didn’t seem to be getting much public awareness (I'm talking primarily about testicular and prostate cancers to be blunt). So we decided that our aim - being young(ish) males - would be to give back to this cause. And given that November is the month that supports these causes - this was also to be our name.
Given our positioning and what we stood for, we naturally started to resonate with brands which had a similar audience (young, males) - so working with these sorts of brands (Chivas Regal Whisky being one) quickly became the norm.
But in truth a lot of our work resulted indirectly from personal contacts I'd already amassed through previous work experience - which through continued nurturing, were relationships that I was able to turn into new business for November.
So if I had to give some advice on how to establish a business, I would say: Firstly, stand for something that people can get behind. Your story, and purpose - why you are doing what you are doing - is super important. Secondly, continue to build and nurture relationships. And the best way to do this is by being an approachable and relatable person ready to chat to anyone at the bar.
What else is in the pipeline?
We're looking to expand this year and potentially move offices, hopefully bring some more people on board - along with some other amazing clients too.
We're also looking at expanding our remit from the ‘sexier’ world of B2C brand communications into the very necessary world of B2B brand communications.
We see the need for more banks, insurance firms and many other professional industries to fully embrace digital-technologies such as video, allowing them to communicate potentially complex information in the most digestible and engaging form possible.
In fact, if there's anybody reading this that works in any marketing departments for any industry who feel they could use some of these skills - please feel free to get in touch.
What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
Proudest moment in the lifespan of November is getting on the agency roster for one of the world’s largest alcohol companies - and doing so only two months after setting up as an agency. We've had similar achievements since - but none as satisfying as doing this so early into the venture, as it is relatively unheard of.
What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
In the beginning, we were pretty green when it came to managing our finances (think raising invoices and receiving PO's, and payment terms etc.). So the first few months were tough from a start up cost-perspective - as we had suppliers that needed paying, but we hadn't had our own invoices settled by clients yet. We soon got this ironed out though, and it’s been pretty smooth sailing ever since.
Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
The key thing I've learnt is to stand for something. And to treat relationship-building as one of the most important aspects of running a business. Sometimes what other people may call a 'jolly', is actually business critical. Never write-off the power of going for a beer with somebody!