Leaving a job to start a new business is a significant and often challenging decision. It’s a process, and success may not come overnight, but when done right the benefits and feeling of self-pride can be enormous.
Ben Coates’ story is a perfect example of that, but before we reach the launch of his business Cande Group, we rewind to where Ben’s knowledge and passion for media production really began.
“After school, I attended the Hinckley campus of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College to complete a BTec National Diploma in Media Production,” Ben began.
“I then went on to the University of Wolverhampton to complete a bachelor’s degree in video production.”
While at university, as well as achieving a 2:1 BA Hons, Ben also had some self-produced video content broadcasted on the BBC.
“After that, I moved to London to work in television in format development where I shaped and pitched shows to broadcasters,” Ben continued.
“I then moved into the freelance world and worked for a number of production companies, including ITV Drama.”
From here, Ben chose to move out of London and back to the Midlands, where he entered the world of corporate video production, before then starting an entrepreneurial journey of his own backed by The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity.
“I managed the in-house video team for a company that represented British Farming, overseeing consumer marketing, technical and exports content,” Ben reflected.
“I left there after six years to launch Cande Group.
“At Cande, we have a deep-rooted passion for storytelling. We work with businesses and brands to help them shape their objectives and opportunities into content plans, delivering video production, animation, livestreaming and content strategy.”
Despite working with clients in many different sectors, Cande has a particular speciality in the agricultural supply chain, as Ben explained further:
“We understand the intricate dynamics of the agricultural world, the supply chain relationships, consumer behaviours and the industry drivers and issues. Our team has years of experience filming on farms, in processing plants and in retail and food service outlets.
“Our team is made up of expert content producers with a background in TV and film, with credits including the James Bond franchise, Black Mirror, The Crown, the Olympic Games and factual entertainment shows across major UK broadcasters. We bring this high production-value experience to our clients in the corporate world to elevate the standard and impact of their output. We place a big focus on the ideation and development phase of projects to ensure the best creative approach for the message. The Cande team consists of creative directors, video producers, animators, motion graphics artists and editors.”
While many people apply for STWLC’s business loan to start a new business, Ben’s story is slightly different. Cande was already up and running – finance was instead needed to grow the business further.
“I heard about the Charity through the LLEP (Leicester & Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership),” Ben remembered.
“It sounded too good to be true when I first heard about it. The application process ensures that you focus clearly on your next steps as a business and that you consider every step of your planning. This is a very helpful part of the process. The interview panel was warm and welcoming, but clearly they are looking for businesses who have a clear strategy and opportunity to grow, and that showed during the process. I would summarise it as positive pressure.”
With a clear strategy in place, Ben was successful in obtaining an interest-free business loan, enabling him to take Cande to what he describes as ‘phase two’ of the business…
“This centred around reducing the amount of spend on temporarily hired kit and external resource, and investing in our in-house kit and personnel,” Ben continued.
“This made a huge difference and has helped us to create jobs for local people and we’ve seen a real positive difference with the performance of the business. One of the first key purchases we made was an expansion pack for our media server. We exceeded the capacity of our server much quicker than anticipated due to rapid growth. The loan enabled us to ensure we had the infrastructure in place to support the growth and deliver for our existing and new clients.”
Asked to reflect on his overall experience with STWLC and the difference the interest-free loan has made, Ben concluded:
“The loan from STWLC has been an absolute game changer. It has enabled us to take advantage of growth opportunities by accessing capital that we can use to fertilise our growth over time, at our pace. By the time repayments are due to begin we will be seeing the return from the initial investment. The loan is designed to facilitate growth and that is exactly what it’s done for us in a very short space of time.”
For more information on Cande Group, head to: candegroup.co.uk
To learn more about our interest-free business loans, available up to £20,000, please click here