In 2014, MSc Entrepreneurship graduate Gerard Keeley started Vidsy, a London-based media company that crowdsources the production of micro video content for brands. Allowing brands to develop a direct connection with a millennial audience and drive engagement online, Vidsy aims to create authentic brand content that is entertaining and doesn’t feel like advertising. The service connects brands with independent content creators, offering a tech platform that enables brands to create fresh micro content and ideas from a community of digital creators without the time and creative constraints of an agency.
Gerard was motivated to start the enterprise through the realisation that millennials have moved away from traditional media to social and mobile platforms. He observes that: “We no longer engage with ads that interrupt our experiences, instead craving new content every day and speaking a new language online, ‘Macro Video’”. He identified the problem that most companies do not have the resources to produce regular branded video content at an affordable price, and presents Vidsy as the solution.
Gerard notes that he was motivated to start a tech business from the outset of his MSc, saying: “It was always my goal to come up with a proposition that combines my two real passions, technology and marketing”. He felt that an MSc would benefit his entrepreneurial ventures through its work to build a “sound foundation, one that helps to better understand and navigate the challenges of being an entrepreneur”, and was interested in “understanding the factors which determine whether a business will grow and succeed”. He found the most interesting aspect of the programme to be Nottingham’s innovative Ingenuity Process
, which he later employed in the development of Vidsy. Another benefit was the networking opportunities: “I made some good friends on the course and some of us continue to exchange ideas on a regular basis”. It’s not just peer contacts made through the degree who have proved beneficial: “Universities can really help out by providing direct access to professors who have, for example, done research in the sector in which your business operates. Even better, ask this academic to be one of the official advisors for the business. This really does help.”
While the MSc equipped Gerard with entrepreneurial knowledge, he shares that the biggest challenge he faced was ”putting what you have learned to good practical use and demonstrating results, otherwise no one will invest in you.” Transferring his studies into measurable promise and results may not have been easy, but with credible brands including Sony, the Post Office and Cornetto already on board, there are indications that the company will close significant seed funding in the summer of 2015.
How did the Ingenuity Lab support Vidsy?
Gerard received both financial and advisory help from the University’s Ingenuity Lab
, with the latter coming from Rob Carroll, an Honorary Professor in Venture Capital and Private Equity, whose mentoring and coaching Gerard judged to be extremely helpful. Financial support came from taking part in the Ingenuity Lab’s 2014 Postgraduate Venture Challenge
, a business plan competition involving a series of workshops, during which participants are challenged to think differently and work in partnership with other students to find innovative solutions to various problems. Following this, teams develop their own business idea and submit a business plan to an industry panel for the chance to compete for a range of cash prizes and follow-on support. Vidsy was successful in winning a £4,000 grant, which helped catalyse the start-up.
Vidsy also received external support from the Oxygen Accelerator at the Google Campus in London, for which they were selected from over 500 start-ups across Europe. This allowed them to build credibility and test the concept in order to see its potential to be a high-growth business.
What next for the business?
Looking to the future, Gerard hopes the grow the company to a high level of success that provides both “a brilliant service from our clients while also generating amazing opportunities for young creatives.” Further on from this, he hopes to be in a position to utilise the skills learnt from Vidsy and move on to another project. Gerard notes: “Being a serial entrepreneur is something that really appeals to me.”
Sharing what he’s learned so far, Gerard advises other aspiring entrepreneurs “not to underestimate the challenges and how tough it can get. Try to surround yourself with like-minded individuals and build a strong team. Great teams create amazing start-ups.”
For more information and to sign up to create content, visit Vidsy’s website.
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Find out more about how the Ingenuity Lab could benefit your start up idea.
Posted on Tuesday 2nd June 2015