Buzz From The Hive: Q&A With Big Cat Group’s Nick Morgan
Startups are at the heart of Unruly’s core. Not only do new businesses add value for consumers/ existing enterprises, startups have been a major force in shaping the UK economy in recent years.
At Unruly, we wanted to pay homage to the teams that are contributing to London’s success in becoming a world leader in innovation, so we have created a series of interviews featuring some of the UK capital’s hottest startups.
There is no shortage of creatives coming from East London and we had to look no further than our own doorstep to find some awesome businesses sitting within Unruly’s Hive. In part 1 of our ‘Buzz From The Hive’ series, we sat down with Big Cat Group’s Nick Morgan.
Unruly: Explain what your company does in 30 seconds
BCG: We are at the forefront of the events industry and work with festivals and brands to produce large scale experiences. We are a very specialist agency and have two distinct divisions that play to our strengths. The first looks at licensing, CDM and H&S. The other is more focused on pure production on a larger scale.
Generally, we produce live experiences / events for more than 5,000 people, right up to 120,000. We are always looking at how best to adopt the latest technology developments to our events. We work for brands such as Secret Cinema, London Cocktail Week, Associated Press and the Found Series, to name a few, and last year we produced 52 large events and experiences alongside our sister agency House of Experience, who are also based in the Hive.
Unruly: When did you know you wanted to become an entrepreneur?
BCG: When I was at university I started running my own club nights and events and just loved the fact that I could earn money whilst everyone was in their down time, so generally customer interaction was amazing. People needed a release, whether that be from studying for exams or their job, and I got to experience it with them and managed to sustain a living. This turned into consultancy for bigger and bigger brands and promoters, and the agency developed from there. Along the way, the Group co-founder and I set up a range of bars and clubs, and we grew our events agency (The Fair) at the same time. The business proposition became more and more refined after that.
Unruly: Where did your name come from?
BCG: When I moved back to London, the road I lived on used to hold a world-famous goose fair and while in the pub with some of our creatives we thought the link between the fair and large entertaining events made complete sense, albeit after having several drinks.
Unruly: What’s your USP?
BCG: Our team are experts – they are meticulous and our ethos lies around getting things done. Our proposition focuses on what we are best at. We combine over 20 years of industry experience and each of our team members are specialists in their respective fields and love what they do. We are part of an industry that is growing exponentially and our networks are made up of leaders in event technology, event infrastructure and event creative and conceptualisation who believe in a collaborative approach.
Events or experiences involving more than 5,000 people need a different level of expertise and an amazing understanding of legislation and the processes on how to deliver such an experience given the undertaking involved. There truly aren’t as many agencies in this space as there are in pure experiential.
Unruly: What’s been your breakthrough moment?
BCG: It was when a well-known festival director gave us our first big break in the festival market by entrusting us with the health and safety management of a high-profile 50,000 capacity festival. It meant suddenly we were taken a lot more seriously among our peers. In parallel, I was fortunate to win an entrepreneur of the year award and the chair of judges approached me afterwards and offered to mentor me. He has been supporting the business ever since.
Unruly: What do you want to achieve in 2016?
BCG: We are looking at hitting a 31% growth in revenue. We are also keen to secure an acquisition we have been in talks with for several months, subject to bringing on board the right funding partner.
Unruly: What trends are hot in your industry right now?
BCG: We are looking into escape rooms, which are seeing a massive increase in brand interest. We are also looking at adopting technology like ibeacons. Within the next 12 months you will be able to go to a large festival and an ibeacon will track your movements. It means at the end of the festival, we will be able to compile a unique playlist, potentially replaying all the acts you saw with their live sets, as it tracks your movements around the site and, therefore, know which acts you watched. Without wanting to get into the whole Big Brother discussion, it’s also an amazing tool for us to use for planning shows, as you can track audiences, which lets us know crowd flow. So from a site layout and H&S point of view, this will make shows even safer and help us improve the customers’ experience.
There are so many poor event apps which have no legacy. So I envisage they will become much more interactive, with gamification and social interaction tools that people can continue to use after the experience is over, which is where the value could be driven. Digital tech is becoming more and more integral to the live event space and customer experience.
Unruly: Where do you get your inspiration?
BCG: Other event professionals, my mentor and events the team and I go to.
Unruly: What’s the favourite part of your working day?
BCG: Meeting clients is always a highlight, and I love being involved in some of the country’s best events. This is amplified when you see 40,000 ecstatic people creating their own individual life experiences and telling their social networks they are having the best days of their lives and you are partially responsible.
Unruly: What’s the toughest part of starting a business in the UK?
BCG: Gaining credibility and building a great reputation among peer groups and clients. There are always setbacks and you need to ensure you have the strength to simply plough on through. A few years ago a client went into liquidation, owing one of the agencies a lot of in money. Now that was a hard day, but honestly, it has probably helped us grow and create more checks and balances. I had no option but to work to replace that revenue asap and we did and actually surpassed the target.
Unruly: What’s the best thing about working in the Hive?
BCG: The collaborative ethos and the fact that we get to work alongside some of the best creative agencies in London. The office is also damn fine too!
Unruly: What do you look for when you hire people?
BCG: It’s all about culture fit. Each of our team members is integral to the success of our events. We encourage a mindset of meticulous attention to detail, alongside a can-do ethos. To help that, we have developed a framework to foster the development of all employees. Our policies and our continuing professional development (CPD) programme ensure the development of every team member is continually supported and encouraged.
Unruly: What would your advice be to any start-up in London?
BCG: You need determination and to be extremely self-disciplined – be 110% committed. Invest in CRM and make sure you are everywhere your customers are, and constantly.