BEEPURPLE FOUNDER STORY 1: James Gatheral PhD, Co-founder of Mammoth

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We interview James Gatheral PhD, Co-founder of Mammoth creative agency

What’s your background?

I’m a Brighton graduate and Co-founder of a creative agency called Mammoth After graduating with a PhD in English Literature in 2019, I wanted to pursue an academic career and set out to find my first teaching job. 9 months, 50 applications, and 0 interviews later, I realised academia wasn’t for me. I started considering alternative avenues, and began applying to other jobs – teaching, publishing, government – but my record of 0 interviews remained intact. The final straw was a rejection from the local farm for my application to be an apple picker. Yes, the apple picking team was full!

A childhood friend had just left his job as a Graphic Designer, and we got together, pre-lockdown, to discuss our shared frustrations about the state of the job market. Our shared frustrations turned to shared dreams about running our own business, and we decided to join forces, combining his Graphic Design with my writing to form a creative agency specialising in digital content creation.

Talk us through your startup

Our creative agency is only six months old but we’ve already got stories to tell. We’ve worked with over 30 clients, from local cafes in Colchester and events companies in Brighton to international businesses in Dubai, Canada, California, Sweden, and Florida.

Our work has been varied, to say the least. Our designs have adorned coffee cups, brochures, banners, and a new shop window. We’ve been published in major magazines, created virtual team building games for Porsche and Kraft Heinz, and directed a photoshoot for an easter egg… in November! Most importantly, we’ve built a sustainable company for a group of friends to make a living doing what they love. We don’t dread Monday mornings.

How did beepurple help?

One important milestone in our growth was the award of a Santander Startup Grant from beepurple. The process of creating a business model canvas as part of the application was particularly helpful. With the deadline a couple of weeks before lockdown, we took a trip to Tollesbury Marina to discuss our plans for the company (See photo). Picture of business model canvas notes on picnic bench.The business model canvas forced us to discuss and plan things we hadn’t considered before, like customer relationships and detailed cost structures, and we spent time shaping our value statement as a kind of manifesto.

Plans for the future?

We provided six-month revenue targets, aiming to make enough to pay my rent and my friend’s mortgage payments. We have beaten those revenue targets, grown our team from two to three, and exceeded all expectations. It’s now time for a new business plan…

Any tips for fellow founders?

My practical tip for fellow beepurplers planning to launch a startup would be to harness the power of social media. We haven’t created a website yet, but maintaining a stream of high-quality content on our Instagram and LinkedIn feed has generated a number of leads that have turned into successful client relationships. Lockdown has highlighted the importance of digital platforms for businesses to communicate with their customers. What better way to showcase our work as digital content creators than on our own social media channels?

Connect with James Gatheral on LinkedIn:

Clare Griffiths • 04/03/2021

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