Recently, we have been telling you more about the fantastic creative businesses that make up Epic Studios’ on-site media hub. Last month we had a chat with Dan Foden, centre manager of Norwich’s fast-expanding creative college, Access to Music. This week we’ve been talking to award-winning 34-year-old entrepreneur Ben Farrin, founder of creative companies: The Student Pocket Guide, Digital Boss, A6 records and latest project, The Travel Pocket Guide. All of which are based here at the studios!
The Student Pocket Guide is local entrepreneur Ben farrin’s longest running project and is probably his best known. This digital pop culture mag has been the winner of several awards since its launch in 2005 and continues to enjoy enormous success, currently reaching around 2.7 million students in the UK. The picture above shows Ben receiving Barclays’ ‘Take One Small Step’ award for his work on The Student Pocket Guide in 2012.
SPG (homepage screen shot below) provides top-notch content, such as artist/celebrity interviews and features and advice on fashion, entertainment and student life. It also offers exclusive student discounts and exciting competitions to its readers. Our favourite comps so far involved the mag arranging for artists like Ed Sheeran and Gabrielle Aplin to perform live sets in the winners’ living rooms. They even provided the drinks and a cleaner for the morning. Amazing!
A6 Records (Ben’s independent UK record label), Digital Boss (his social media specialist digital agency) and The Travel Pocket Guide (a second digital publication providing travel enthusiasts with travel video reviews, tips, advice and deals), are younger businesses that we are very excited to witness growing under our roof.
So, what is the secret to running 4 creative companies and maintaining a flourishing workforce? Obviously acute business acumen helps – we also think an office with a PlayStation, dartboard, rooftop garden and BBQ for staff, is a nice touch! I had a chat with Ben this week to find out a bit more about our top floor tenant.
You won your first prestigious business competition aged just 23. What do you put such early success down to?
Overall, I’d probably put it down to determination. In my opinion it is so important to be passionate and determined about what it is you do and are trying to achieve. I also had a clear vision, expansion plans and knew I wanted to benefit students from the get go. So, if you have a strong idea which you truly believe will work, nothing should stop you.
We couldn’t help noticing the level of priority you give to a fun environment for your team! Do you think this is the key to getting the most out of creatives?
Having a nice work environment is so important. We’re constantly trying to make the work space as nice as possible and recently bought some palm trees, outdoor beanbags and rattan furniture for the rooftop and now the sun is out will start to enjoy those BBQs again! It’s great to get the team to bond and if it makes our staff happier, I’m happier.
Epic Studios is really proud of its contribution to the local creative community and to have so many exciting businesses growing here with us. What inspired you to join our media hub?
It’s a great venue with a variety of media businesses within it, not forgetting Access To Music college. There’s a lot of synergies and the space we have also provides the room required for us to expand into.
What is the best thing about running 4 creative businesses?
Watching them grow month by month, year by year, seeing the team grow and knowing that our efforts are literally providing more and more people with cool jobs feels fantastic.
…And the hardest?
I suppose in order to get into a position where I have setup and manage 4 businesses has its downsides. I have to put myself under quite a lot of pressure and you don’t ever switch off. Plus, the more you grow, the more business decisions you have to make and at times it’s not easy, but that’s business, and deep down, I love it!
Could you tell us a little more about A6 and Digital Boss?
A6 Records spots and develops music talent. A6 works closely with its artists and supports their growth by providing support so the artists can produce professional music in the studio, with professional music videos for releases. We take care of all the music distribution, marketing, paperwork and legal stuff, allowing the artist to focus on making music. Since working alongside A6, our first signed artist Arron Erskine has performed at the iPro Stadium in Derby with a 33,597 capacity. His first A6 signed record (Foolin’ Me) was played on BBC Radio1Xra by the likes of MistaJam, Trevor Nelson and A.Dot. Foolin’ Me was also selected for DJ Target’s 100% Homegrown show and Arron was selected as BBC Radio 1Xtra introducing artist of the week. The most recent video we arranged was filmed by Stormzy’s official video producer; Kaylum Dennis. The track is called Wolf and well worth a listen/watch.
Digital Boss is a digital marketing agency specialising in managing social media pages for businesses and creating written content for our partners. We also developed our own bespoke social media marketing software which is very powerful and generates vast clicks for targeted campaigns – the most successful campaign seeing a huge 70% click through rate! Our strategy took at least 12 months to perfect, but now we’re seeing some fascinating results.
I’m head down with TPG (Travel Pocket Guide – homepage screenshot above) at the moment. The site’s live and we’re already publishing one high quality travel video per day. Having got the branding complete, site live and content published regularly, it’s now just a matter of keep developing it, growing the audience and introducing it to potential partners. We’ve also got more major plans which I won’t mention at this stage because rather than boast about something we’re going to do, I prefer to say look what we’ve done. So, keep your eyes peeled because this is just the beginning.
Anything you’d like to shout about?
Yes actually, thank you – we’re always on the lookout for amazing content, anything from music sessions, hilarious moments, amazing skill and talent, we want it! If we publish your video, it will appear on our website and socials (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter) potentially reaching millions. The same goes for writers. If you enjoy and are good at writing get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
Epic Studios is looking forward to future updates on The Travel Pocket Guide and will report back with news about any of Ben’s projects in the coming months.Tags: A6 Records, Ben farrin, Digital Boss, Epic Studios media hub, The Student Pocket Guide, The Travel Pocket Guide