My love for technology was born almost 30 years ago, (much like many of my employees!) After spending a winter season as a ‘Ski-Bum’ I needed a job, and the only person who was going to give me one, was me.
I began selling a pre-cursor to LCD projectors on commission only, which was a great yet brutal way to understand sales. In the process I discovered I was a computer geek and grew a huge interest in interactive tech, it was in 1994 that I bought my first touchscreen for rental.
“One thing led to another and after much blood, sweat, tears, fun…and years, we were the UK’s largest AV rental company in the Trade Show market!”
Over the years we couldn’t ignore the demand from our clients for content creation to go on the screens they rented from us, and this was a market we knew we could excel in. So, in 2009 Ali and I set up the content division turning “DB” into “DBpixelhouse”.
The complete hardware and software solutions we provided to clients was unrivalled in the industry, we had 10 symbiotic and successful years of developing interactive event solutions for some of the worlds most recognisable brands, and then COVID hit.
There is no denying COVID hit the event industry astronomically – there were no events, remember that? But it did give us an opportunity for a helicopter view of the business and Gravit8 was a result of that- We felt the interactive and virtual arm of DBpixelhouse needed its own identity, so here we are!
We have built our own Virtual Event Platform (VEP) from scratch, it is a true example of innovation, born from filling the void for events and exhibitions during an unprecedented international pandemic. It now compliments IRL or hybrid events, and expands well beyond in-person events in terms of productivity, reach and continued lifecycle. There is nothing like it on the market.
“We just love making our customers happy. We’ve done some daft things in our time to make sure our customer gets what they want. The satisfaction, when an event goes well, is hard to beat”
My role has changed somewhat over the years. Initially when you start a business, you basically do everything – sales, marketing, finance, driving, installing, supporting and anything else that needs doing. Then you have the daunting ‘employing a couple of people’ stage, which means you’re then looking after people too. After a while, that’s seemingly all you do.
Now, we have James and Ali, both of whom have been with the Group for 20+ years, who have the real drive, skill and ambition to take us to the next level. Me? I’m now taking more of a back seat – Covid was very stressful. No one starts a business to make people redundant.
What do I love about the industry? Events are just great. I just love the short term nature of them; they fit with my attention span. You can either have a fabulous or, occasionally, very stressful week, but you know at the end of that week, the slate is (sort of!) clean and off you go to the next event. Success and failure – treat those imposters just the same.
The advice I give to my team: Do the right thing by your customer – internal and external. Love what you’re doing, give the customer the right advice all of the time, even though sometimes, in the short term, it may not be the best thing for you.
“Trust is key, the challenge is also the joy and leadership is service – see the Queen for details.”
At DB & G8, we only employ nice people, and that sets the tone. The culture is ego-less – as I said before, leadership is service. Any managers job is to make sure their people have the right tools, skills and welfare to do their job to the best of their ability.
The great thing about the events industry – physical or virtual -is that it’s all about problems – whether logistical or technical. Oddly, that’s sometimes where the joy is. Solving the problem and having a happy customer.