Alexander Bell has built a business in one of the most competitive industries going, photography. Under a year old, his startup called the 360 Agency has already won some pretty huge contracts with Google, to produce street view tours and another for Warner Bro's to create a street view tour of the Harry Potter film set - Diagon Alley. It's time for him to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch.
We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on Virginstartup.org each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson?
Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does
360 Agency was created to establish a leading brand within the 360 degree panoramic photography market; one renowned for innovation, excellence in image creation and award winning project delivery. 360 Agency works with clients to produce interior Google Street View virtual tours as well as a range of interactive panoramic imagery, commercial photography and 360 degree video services. This mix of services is a unique offering and positions 360 Agency amongst only a handful of competitors within the UK market.
Floor 1 to 2 – Where are you based?
Our projects take us all over the UK and abroad so as a team we have to be able to communicate and operate effectively from an airport or hotel room! This is why as a company we operate virtually with no central head office, just satellite hubs wherever our team happen to be on any particular day. Thankfully, public WiFi and 3G / 4G connectivity has really come on over the last 12 months which make running a business from a hotel room possible!
Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?
Whilst the main focus for 360 Agency is our work with Google to create Street View like virtual tours for clients on Google Maps, we also offer a range of complimentary services comprising of; non Google 360 degree virtual tours, gigapixel images, panoramic photography, commercial photography, elevated photography, 360 degree video, websites and marketing services.
Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?
The whole 360 market is really beginning to take off which has ignited a number of startups in the space. It’s an incredibly exciting time for the market as we are seeing 360 imagery being used more and more as a tool to engage audiences such as the recent coverage by Fifa for the World Cup over in Brazil. There are several 360 photography companies within the UK all producing fantastic content but at the moment our main competition as an industry is still going against traditional still photography or video services.
Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?
In a highly competitive and well established industry it’s hard to stand out and be different. Our main USP is our reputation and portfolio of work because that’s what makes us different from the next photography agency. Our partnership with Google is fairly unique and that certainly helps but we’re not the only the only agency to be working with Google (unfortunately!)
Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?
I first came into contact with 360 degree photography several years ago and immediately fell in love with the concept. I was approached by Google to join their programme to provide Street View tours for businesses across the UK which gave me the nudge I needed to start 360 Agency.
Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?
£10,000 at an amazingly low APR rate!
Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?
The £10,000 has helped to fund some of our first international projects which inevitably incur whopping costs to produce as well as the purchase of some shiny new equipment!
Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp Mentor?
Peter Dorward, a fantastic mentor who has really helped me to plan out my business strategy and get it down on paper.
Floor 9 to 10 – What’s your workspace like? (send us a pic from your phone)
This is my home office, I'm a Mac fan and use a graphics tablet rather than a mouse (helps with RSI!!) and you can see my father's day 'foot tree painting' in the background from my very talented 6 month old baby boy! Apparently his first few attempts ended with paint everywhere but he nailed it with this version!
Floor 10 to 11 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time? That’s hard to say because the market is still finding its feet but our plans are big and I would hope that by 12 months time we will have established ourselves firmly within the UK market as a leading provider of 360 degree photography as well as winning a handful of awards for our work overseas!
Alexander Bell was mentored and had his £10,000 loan approved by official Virgin StartUp delivery partner, Tedco.