Graduate entrepreneur makes a Splaat with photography business
Greg McClarnon is a Business Studies graduate and an entrepreneur from Horsham, West Sussex. After turning his creative hobby into a profitable business, Splaat Media, Greg now manages a growing team of staff and a company with a turnover of £100k. Here he tells his University of Hertfordshire story and beyond.
Splaat Media is a professional photography service for schools, groups and corporates across the south of England. Having started the business in 2010 whilst in sixth form, Greg explains how it began: “I had taken photographs of my secondary school show the previous year and found that there was a strong demand from parents to take away a photograph of their child performing. Other local schools heard about what I was doing and asked me if I could take photographs for their shows. It snowballed from there and now I’m actively promoting across Sussex, Surrey, Hertfordshire, London and Essex.”
Going into schools, free of charge, Greg and his team take photographs during dress rehearsals and create eye-catching displays for production nights, giving parents the chance to purchase these photographs. Greg says: “Parents love what we do. It gives them the opportunity to take away a lasting memory and a permanent record of their child’s achievement.”
As well as being popular with parents, by taking the photographs free of charge, the service proves very popular with schools. Greg explains: “We work around the schools’ timetables and provide a complimentary set of five digital photos. This often means that there is no need to hire an external – and often expensive – photographer for publicity shots.”
Life in 2015
In 2014, Greg worked with over 650 schools and groups and is on track to hit 900 in 2015. Although he has built many great partnerships with his clients and the bulk of his business is school drama photography, he is now becoming more and more involved in live event photography.
With their live event photography, the team work out of the fully equipped Splaat Media van. Shots are taken of an event and an instant display is made up, allowing parents to view, purchase and recieve prints, in situ.
The team is made up of three full-time employees, five photographers and six customer assistants. Business is going great and Greg is always on the lookout for new photography talent – he is currently recruiting for five photographers – so if you want to be part of a fun, vibrant and dynamic team, visit his career’s webpage to apply.
A university to help a business
When Greg started looking at universities, he wasn’t that inspired to go, stating: “I didn’t know if it was for me, as my business was my first priority. Nevertheless, I went to an open day at the University of Hertfordshire and started speaking to a member of the Herts Entrepreneurs society. He told me all about the extra opportunities and facilities that the university has for student businesses and it sounded fantastic. I applied to come to Hertfordshire as my first choice and started my degree in business studies the following September.”
After settling in, Greg took advantage of the various enterprise workshops that the university offered and applied for its free office space. He says: “The workshops were brilliant. I thought it was great how external businesses and business mentors came in to talk to us and it provided very good networking opportunities,” adding: “One of the best benefits in coming to the University is the office space. Alongside the mentoring, it’s allowed me to have a business address, a meeting room to meet my clients and the best thing of all; it’s given me the opportunity to employ staff.
“I am so pleased I chose to come to the University of Hertfordshire. I’ve been able to run my business alongside my studies, employ other students and grow my business into a new region.”
Graduation is in a few months for Greg and, as an alumnus, he will be able to benefit from a reduced rate for office space and still have vital access to the university’s support networks.
University experience and advice to students
Having really enjoyed his time at the university so far, Greg tells us that the social life, environment, friends and opportunities he’s had, have been brilliant. He states: “Coming to Hertfordshire has really motivated me to grow my business. I’ve learnt so much and benefited far more than I would have done if I‘d have left sixth form to work on my business full time.”
Greg has also found specific modules within his Business Studies degree very useful, stating: “I have found in particular, Legal Aspects for Business, Business Analysis Tools, Methods and Systems for Business Decisions vital to my business’ development. The modules that I can practically apply to my business and the real world have been best.”
As advice, if you have a business idea, Greg believes it is important to test that your idea works, in the early days: “Then get yourself a logo, business cards and a website and start to earn some money. If you find that it’s working, then look at writing aims and objectives, separate business banking, book keeping etc. Creating a website really helps you to lay your product or service out and make it clear what you’re doing.
“You need to be determined and motivated if you’re going to succeed. If you’ve got an idea and you’re motivated to be successful – just do it!”
Last year, Splaat Media had a turnover of over £100k and Greg is looking to continue this success. He has ambitious plans to conquer the United States, in the future, but is currently focusing on expanding further into the surrounding counties and gradually in the north of England. He is also hoping to start photographing university graduations next year, increasing his offerings to the student and parent market.