Meet Alex and Adrian, Founders of digital content agency, Gutterspace
Whenever you decide to set up in business it can be challenging – but 2020 has been extraordinarily difficult. As the country entered lockdown in March, new freelancers, contractors and small companies weren’t able to claim the Government support offered to longer established small businesses.
👋 Hello Alex! How do you describe your business?
Gutterspace is a small, independent video production and content marketing agency. The content we make is entertaining or educational – often both! – and we focus on the power of storytelling to connect people with ideas.
We collaborate closely with our clients so we get to know their target audience. By telling clear engaging stories, we help clients find an authentic voice that cuts through the noise.
We’re based in London but our clients can be anywhere. As well as the two of us working full-time for Gutterspace, we have a handful of fantastic freelancers who help us depending on the project.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
Before starting Gutterspace in February 2020, I was working at a film agency and Adrian was working freelance in communications for a few different charities.
We decided to partner up because we’ve been friends for more than ten years and knew how well we could work together. We also love each other’s work so we were confident it would be a great partnership.
Both of us have a lot of experience in film, animation, branding, social media and marketing, and we wanted to use our skills for good. We create content for charities and brands that promote good causes – by focusing on these types of positive messages, we feel that we’re doing our bit to help make the world a better place.
😍 That’s a superb ethos. How did you choose the name, Gutterspace?
The name comes from our love for comic books. When we were younger (and even now) we’re always sharing comics and stories we love. The ‘gutterspace’ in a comic is the space between the frames.
The reason this became our company name was because we tell the stories behind the headlines. We love to find out about the people, ideas or purpose behind a message and focus on that. For us, that’s often where we find the real heart of a story.
You work closely with your friend Adrian – what aspects of running Gutterspace are your strengths, and which are his?
We both have our own specialist disciplines: I focus more on directing and filming whereas Adrian focuses more on editing and animation. But the great thing about our partnership is that we’re both well-trained across all of these disciplines so we can constantly help each other.
I do a bit more of the finances and Adrian does more of our social content and marketing. We both love pitching and writing treatments [creative proposals] together – clients tell us we come across as a dynamic duo throughout the whole process!
In film-making, whose work do you most admire?
For documentaries, we love Raw TV who have produced a range of amazing programmes.
Pulse Films are another company we’ve always admired. They make such a wide range of content from adverts, music videos, documentaries and TV series, they inspire us to to grow and become a company that can hopefully rival them one day.
We also look up to Purpose – a great company and like us, they produce great content for charities. We see them as the type of company we want to grow to become.
What’s been your favourite recent project?
A favourite project we’ve worked on recently was working with an amazing charity called Prepster. They’re a sexual health charity with a focus on educating for PrEP [PrEP stands for ‘pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis’] across England. We created a series of films for them entitled Long Time No Syphilis to raise awareness and educate viewers about the rise of syphilis in the UK. You can see all of these films on our website.
What’s one thing you wish new clients knew about your work?
We’re a small company – it’s only the two of us – but we’re very knowledgeable about the whole production process.
We do everything ourselves from writing creative treatments, producing, filming, editing and animation. This means when we start work with a new company, we embed ourselves as part of their team to fully understand what they need.
Clients have more face-to-face time with us (well, at the moment it’s video-call time) than they’d have with bigger agencies.
Who would be your dream client, and why?
How has your business been affected by the coronavirus crisis?
We only started up in February so the coronavirus lockdown has been our biggest challenge to overcome.
The main thing we had to change was the type of films we create. Usually we’d be out on set filming but because of the crisis, we had to change this way of working. We quickly adapted to creating animations or filming interviews over video calls.
We’ve changed our creative treatments but we still make sure our clients get content that’s right for them.
What would be your advice to other owners of small business about how to adapt to the challenges this year?
Keep it small – use freelancers where you can and be flexible. This year has taught us to think on our feet and adapt projects as the situation changes.
Also I’d say to look for clients in places you wouldn’t normally – use your social media accounts! You never know who’s looking through your Instagram stories or sharing your Facebook posts. We’ve had a few clients start work with us by simply getting in touch through an Instagram message.
How are you feeling about your company’s prospects for the next year?
We’re very optimistic about the rest of the year and 2021. It’s been a rocky year but work is starting to flow in now and we’re confident it’ll keep coming.
We now have quite a few regular clients who we’ve built up a good relationship with. They come back to us regularly.
We’ve also future-proofed ourselves by being able to work remotely and put in place practices to turn our office into a studio. This way, we can film things in-house and reduce the risks of going to unknown locations.
Do you have a mentor or anyone you talk to about business advice?
We get advice from people we know in the industry. For finance tips, we talk directly to our accountants – and the Tide website is helpful!
That’s the plan! Why did you choose Tide?
We were attracted to Tide because it was new and exciting. The app is a modern solution designed for small businesses like us. We knew Tide would be the best option rather than a traditional High Street bank.
Applying was quick and straightforward. We were set up in no time and our questions were answered in the app by an actual person who was very helpful.
That’s good to hear. What’s your favourite Tide feature?
Our favourite feature is that it integrates with our accounting software seamlessly. We use Tide with QuickBooks together to keep our accountants in the loop.
Also, because there are two of us, we have Expense Cards. These are great because we can both have access to the account and use it whenever we need to!
In fact, it all works so smoothly, I barely need to do anything…
🎰🌟 That’s exactly the idea – less time doing finance admin, more time to do the work you enjoy. If we could support you more, what could we do?
To be honest… I don’t know. Everything with Tide has been great so far and there are always new features being added. Just keep up the great work!
We will, Alex! Thanks for talking to us.
We look forward to following your progress. ✨
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All photos courtesy of Gutterspace