We are re-opening our popular #SupportSmallBizUK contest for British small businesses, accountants and charities. You can enter your business at SupportSmallBusiness.co.uk.
For the next six weeks we’ll share a series of blog articles and stories about business owners that turned their passion into a business. We’re thrilled to start with the grand prize winner of our last Love Our Local Business campaign – The Opus Pocus – Melodramatic Productions, whose aim is to make classical music child’s play.
Matt Parry, Sam Morris and Martha holding the first CD from The Opus Pocus: 1001 Arabian Nights starring Brian Blessed & Rory Bremner
The business produces CDs, apps, comic books and live theatre shows specifically designed to introduce children to classical music. On hearing that his company has been awarded £5,000 through Love Our Local Business, Melodramatic Productions creator Matt Parry said:
“It’s really great but I am a little surprised! There were so many excellent small businesses in the competition that I didn’t quite believe we would win until it actually happened. But I also saw it as being a useful marketing exercise even if we didn’t win – it was a chance to generate some new interest in our business and a way of making our customers feel a part of helping us grow.”
Matt says the money will be significant in helping Melodramatic Productions grow. He commented:
“Building a new business from scratch is not easy and two crucial parts are generating cash and credibility for your business idea. This does both, providing us with significant help in developing our product and putting us in a stronger position should we want to raise investment too.
“We have some great content already – audio narrations by Brian Blessed and Rory Bremner, orchestral recordings by a top London freelance orchestra and some outstanding illustrations for a comic book by rising star Faye Simms. But we want to combine all this into an interactive app and redevelop our website with our new brand name, The Opus Pocus. This grant goes a long way in helping us to fund this.”
We talked to Matt more about how a business as interesting as Melodramatic Productions came about and what’s next.
How did the business come about?
“I’ve been working in the music business and teaching music since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in 2002, and have worked on West End shows since then too, which has given me a particular insight into the entertainment industry – something that I’ve aimed to bring to this educational product.”
“I started the business in 2009 writing, producing and directing the first CD but very much as a part-time endeavour, fitting it around other work. Currently I don’t have any employees but a pool of very talented freelancers. Freelance employment is the nature of this work but it’s also a useful way to grow a small business without being saddled with an uncontrollable wage bill. The next step, though, is to start employing a full-time sales and admin team to drive growth further and free up my time for more producing.”
What’s special about the business?
“There’s currently a gap in the children’s publishing market for a high-quality, interactive, multimedia, educational product that introduces kids to the incredible sound-world of classical music! Our creative approach to storytelling with music is unique and lends itself to bringing onboard star names like Brian Blessed and Rory Bremner, which lifts the quality of our product and its promotional possibilities to a whole other level. And once we can develop our interactive app it will introduce kids to this fantastic music by a process of osmosis during sessions of creative play – it’s education by stealth!”
“The journey so far has been enormous fun but a steep learning curve too. The next step is combining the CDs and comic books into an app and I also have a producing team to help me pull together a live show, which should be a great opportunity to promote sales, as well as enormous fun!”
“The learning curve for me has been working out how to sell our product – we’ve had some fantastic press and promotions about it now but it took me a while to work out the right way to achieve this.”
What are the challenges of running your business?
“The first challenge was earning enough money whilst I invested a great deal of time and energy into setting up my business. I’m lucky that my day job is running the business whilst my night job is working as a musician, which pays the bills. It’s quite tiring but choosing a business idea that you’re truly passionate about helps to overcome this!
The second challenge was the various gatekeepers to developing a product in the music/publishing world. Only a few years ago it was the case that you had to have a publisher or record label behind you. However, with the likes of Kickstarter (which we’ve successfully used), today these publishing deals are less crucial. At various stages it looked like our product was to be developed by big labels but both times this fell through. We overcame this disappointment by utilising the new social funding phenomenon that is crowd-sourcing. A truly humbling experience again but it just goes to show how much people (i.e. customers!) want to be a part of growing something they think is worthwhile.”
What’s your top business tip?
“The advice I’ve read again and again to entrepreneurs and small-business owners is to find something worthwhile that is missing from the world, that you’re passionate about, and then with a bit of hard work you’ll most likely find success. You don’t have to be an expert at everything and you’re bound to make some mistakes too but as long as these fundamentals are right you’ll end up with a successful business.”
“I’m still at the early stages of this journey myself but thanks to the Intuit competition (and the support of our very wonderful and handsome customers!) we’ve progressed a bit further.”
Matt added a positive note for any other businesses hoping to win a Intuit grant. He said:
“In a global market with worldwide communication and distribution becoming easier every year, there’s genuinely enough room and so many possibilities for all the small business competition entrants to succeed. We’re delighted and very humbled to have won but would like to wish every success to all the other businesses that took part.”
You too could win £10,000 for your business. Enter the Intuit QuickBooks competition now at www.SupportSmallBusiness.co.uk and receive a free marketing guide plus the chance to win £1,000 every week or the grand prize of £10,000.