Today I’m talking to another Edinburgh-based small business, Heehaw. They are a production company (working across video, film and animation) offering a full service throughout development, production and post-production. Whether it’s in-house creative work or a project for a client, Heehaw always try to bring something fresh to the films they make, ensuring engagement and effectiveness.
I spoke to Mally Graveson, Heehaw’s managing director, about all things (small) business. Mally founded Heehaw when he was just 26. Prior to that, he had spent time travelling around the world, studying at Edinburgh Napier University, working in London and then returning to Edinburgh to become a tour guide!
Why do you do what you do?
Because I enjoy it – If I didn’t enjoy it, I simply wouldn’t do it. There are so many aspects of what I do that I love – from getting the deal in and developing client relationships; to telling other people’s stories; to watching our incredible staff continue to strive to do things better and above all to try and make a difference through film, video and animation.
What are you most proud of?
What keeps you up at night?
Certainly nothing that involves work! You have to switch off from work, if not you’ll go insane. I’m lucky enough to be supported at work by an amazing business partner and an incredible team, so if we have challenges, we work through them. They rarely keep us up at night, unless we have a crazy deadline – but those rare occasions are good for team building and they help keep us sharp.
What was the best business decision you ever made?
Three years ago, I decided I wanted Heehaw to be a film, video and animation production company – nothing to do with web or design. We now have a focused offering, we’re good at it, we enjoy it, clients like what we do and everyone within the business is determined, striving to be the best they can be, and most importantly we’re all happy.
And the worst?
Thankfully there have not been too many! I think there have been times when you can see something developing that you need to deal with, and you might have left it too long – my biggest problem was procrastination. Now, if something is not right, I just change it immediately.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?
Surround yourself with brilliant people. I’ve done just that!
How do you attract new clients or customers?
First of all, we try and let our work do the talking. If you create great work, people will tend to watch it – and be curious to know who did it. We get a lot of people coming to us because they have seen our work, which is great. We place a huge emphasis on the customer experience here at Heehaw, it’s so very important. As a result we have developed excellent working relationships and thankfully people come back to us, but they also recommend us, so that’s a really positive thing too.
We make sure we are active on our social media channels; we try to keep up to date with sending out press releases and we attend various networking events to make sure our name is getting out there.
What do you enjoy most about your marketing?
Lots of things. For us it’s all about raising awareness – so it’s about deciding which videos we’ll promote on social, how we’re going to position them and enjoying and managing the audience engagement.
A key part of our marketing is sponsoring events (like Turing Talks and Motion Summit) and these are always really enjoyable to get involved in. We also love doing ‘show and tells’ to other companies which usually involve lots of pizza and beer!
How do you relax?
Hang out with the family, travel to beautiful places and drink whisky with my super cool wife.
What is your favourite brand?
Heehaw, then closely followed by The Macallan or Ardbeg.
What’s something you dream of doing?
Last year I was in Namibia for four weeks making a film about witchcraft and dementia and we went to some incredible places and saw such amazing wildlife – I dream of returning one day with my wife and sons to show them what I’ve seen. It will happen one day, I know it.
For Heehaw, we have an exciting future ahead. We have plans in place for more international projects and collaborations. Our film The African Witchfinder will be hitting film festivals before its global release. Pre-production has started on a new documentary for Heehaw Films, which will see us collaborate with a massive global organisation, it’s super exciting!
2018 will see us take on new staff as we also seek out a larger office that will accommodate our needs for the years ahead. We will continue to learn and grow as film makers. We will develop our existing client relationships and seek out new ones that are both beneficial to us and the client – where we both go on a wonderful journey together – as those journeys are so awesome to go on, and that’s when the magic happens!
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