We spoke to Bristol entrepreneur and founder of Bristol start-up Extraudionary to find out more about his business and his experience on the Start & Grow programme.
Tell us about your new start-up, Extraudionary.
Quite simply, Extraudionary creates unforgettable audio gifts for special occasions. It offers people the opportunity to be the star of a programme about their life, create surprise audio greetings cards, or capture their family histories. Voices, stories and memories are professionally recorded, edited and packaged in a highly personalised format.
What sparked the idea for your business?
Extraudionary’s origins go back to 2011 when I interviewed a close family member for his 40th birthday. The recording went on to acquire a huge amount of personal and sentimental value, and led to several subsequent interviews with friends and family. Encouraged to develop what was an occasional favour into a unique offering for a wider audience, Extraudionary was launched in 2017.
What were you doing before you started Extraudionary?
Extraudionary is built on and inspired by my local radio experience, having spent almost a decade as a presenter/producer with Bristol Community FM as well as live stints with Glastonbury and Womad festival radio and a short spell with BBC Bristol. I've clocked up hundreds of hours of live broadcasting and event coverage, interviewing an eclectic range of public figures and celebrities. Often however, the most interesting and enriching conversations were with those away from the public spotlight and this has been another driver behind capturing voices and memories that would otherwise be lost forever.
Besides radio, I have a background in corporate communication with over 18 years’ experience helping organisations connect with either their own people or the outside world. I’ve worked with a wide range of audiences during that time across the financial services, retail, distribution, engineering, higher education, media, healthcare and not-for-profit sectors. Alongside Extraudionary, I run a business called PWTM that provides a wide variety of support to organisations, in particular those without dedicated in-house communication resource.
Tell us about your experience of Business West and the Start & Grow programme.
I had already joined Business West through my other business and I was at a training event when I was first made aware of the programme. The cost and benefits meant that joining was a no-brainer! Since then, I’ve been supported in several ways, in particular; access to a wider range of advice, information and training; 1:1 access to a business coach; and ongoing membership of Business West.
Ultimately, I’d say that participating in the Start & Grow programme has given my business momentum and made it a stronger proposition.
I’ve found having access to a business coach particularly valuable. As a sole trader working to get a unique proposition off the ground, I’ve been grateful for the 1:1 conversations as these have stimulated thinking, provided a sounding board and given constructive feedback that has prompted me to revisit - and improve - my business proposition. The 1:1s have also had the effect of giving me a renewed sense of purpose and optimism in the business as it’s difficult to stay motivated for 100% of the time when you’re a business of one!
Do you think you would have achieved the same success without the Start & Grow programme?
Had I not been on the programme it could have very easily been a different story! It would have certainly taken longer to get to where I am now. Not all start-ups have access to this kind of support, so I think longer-term it will give me an advantage and get me quicker to where I need to be.
Finally, what are your plans for Extraudionary as we approach the final quarter of 2018?
I spent the first half of 2018 consolidating the business, fine-tuning and expanding the proposition from one core product to three, improving the website, investing in recording equipment, and spending time and effort on marketing. All of this has had the desired effect of increasing momentum going into the Autumn. Now, the immediate objective I have is for Extraudionary’s income to equal or exceed interim contract income, enabling me to step away and focus a larger percentage of the working week on Extraudionary.
You can find out more about Extraudionary on their website.