‘I want us to be the best com­pany at what we do’

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Small Business Can -

As far back as he can re­mem­ber, Niall Car­lin had an en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit. Even at school he would sell cartoons he had drawn, so it is hardly sur­pris­ing that he went on to set up dou­bleJump Stu­dios.

Based in the Gas­works in Belfast city cen­tre, dou­blejump Stu­dios is a bou­tique mo­tion graph­ics and video pro­duc­tion com­pany that counts Ul­ster Bank, Nathan Carter and Tyco among its grow­ing num­ber of clients.

It pro­duces and cre­ates dy­namic vi­su­als to en­gage and in­spire, while pro­mot­ing and ex­plain­ing a busi­ness.

“We’re ac­tu­ally a fairly young com­pany, we started in Septem­ber 2015,” said 29-year-old Niall.

“When I started out it was just me work­ing in a back room in my house in Derry where I lived at the time and I was driv­ing up and down the road to Belfast to get con­tracts.”

Niall grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Ul­ster in 2009 and was for­tu­nate to quickly find a job which of­fered him a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I was very lucky be­cause I left Magee and just af­ter that the re­ces­sion hit,” he said.

“It was all doom and gloom, I was very lucky to get a job just across the road.

“I got great ex­pe­ri­ence and stayed there for a few years be­fore mov­ing up to Belfast and start­ing a new job in a de­sign stu­dio for about five years.

“I was man­ag­ing my own team there and it was at that stage that I de­cided to take a risk and go out on my own.

“Ever since I was lit­tle, I was very cre­ative. I loved draw­ing and com­ing up with sto­ries and, when I was at school, I would draw char­ac­ters and sell them as posters,” he added.

“That en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit was al­ways there and I think I re­alised when I was work­ing for other peo­ple that I loved the challenge but that ul­ti­mately I wanted that challenge for my­self.

“I knew I had ex­pe­ri­ence at man­ag­ing peo­ple and man­ag­ing a busi­ness for some­one else and I thought I wanted to man­age my own busi­ness be­fore I got into my 30s.”

Niall has rel­ished the challenge — but he has found set­ting up dou­blejump Stu­dios a steep learn­ing curve.

“When you are CEO, you are ‘chief of ev­ery­thing of­fi­cer’, you have to deal with all the pa­per­work, and you have to work out how to di­vide your­self up,” he said.

He said his in­volve­ment with the busi­ness ac­cel­er­a­tor and start up pro­gramme, En­tre­pre­neur­ial Spark, has proved cru­cial in the com­pany’s success.

“It’s been in­valu­able to me,” he said.

In par­tic­u­lar, he has gained ex­pe­ri­ence in pitch­ing his busi­ness to new clients.

“I had to over­come a fear of that, there is a fear of re­jec­tion, so you learn how to pitch your­self,” Niall said.

“We did a lot of train­ing on pitch­ing in front of 100 or 200 peo­ple.

“You fail a few times, but then you get used to the pres­sure of it, you get to own your pitch.

“And then even­tu­ally you are do­ing it with­out even think­ing about it.”

Se­cur­ing his first client was proof to Niall that he could make a success and dou­blejump Stu­dios has gone from strength to strength.

They work with com­pa­nies in North­ern Ire­land, Re­pub­lic of Ire­land and as far afield as Aus­tralia.

The CEO has found that word of mouth and rep­u­ta­tion has played an im­por­tant part in its success.

“A lot of work came in from re­fer­rals,” said Niall.

The team of four at dou­bleJump Stu­dios is now work­ing hard to de­velop a growth strat­egy for 2017.

As part of this, Niall is look­ing to ap­point some­one to work solely on mar­ket­ing and sales — hope­fully within the next six months.

“It’s a role I have been do­ing my­self un­til now and I think it is go­ing to be hard to let go,” added Niall.

“I feel like it is a job that I do best be­cause I am so pas­sion­ate about the com­pany but now I know that I need some­one to come on board and help.

“In terms of where we will be in the next five years, I see us work­ing with a lot of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional clients to help them cre­ate world class con­tent.

“I want us to be the best com­pany at what we do in North­ern Ire­land, if not the UK, and I want us to com­pete with other lead­ing com­pa­nies.

“We’re do­ing all right so far, our tar­get is to in­crease our turnover by 30% to 40% this year.

“I think we are prob­a­bly fur- ther on than we wanted to be by this stage.

“Some com­pa­nies don’t turnover any­thing for the first few years, whereas we have been re­ally for­tu­nate and we have got re­ally great clients and a good team.

“Never in my wildest dreams when I was start­ing out in a back room in Septem­ber 2015 did I think we would be where we are now, it’s crazy.”

And as well as the success of the com­pany, Niall is also in the en­vi­able po­si­tion of re­ally lov­ing his job.

“I think ev­ery­one should start up their own busi­ness once in their life,” he said.

“It is a challenge and I won­der what I am do­ing every day, but if you are pas­sion­ate about what you do and you en­joy what you do, then it is to­tally worth it.”

Next week, the Big In­ter­view speaks to Wil­low­brook Foods man­ag­ing di­rec­tor John Mccann

Niall Car­lin, the founder of dou­blejump Stu­dios

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