After going viral on Twitter at 16, this young entrepreneur gained 150,000 followers in a few weeks. A year later, he put his social media skills to the test and built his own social media agency.
Inferno Media was founded when Mitchell Stuart was just 17-years-old. Four years on, the agency has grown and Stuart has managed to branch out his business with offices in Bournemouth and London.
As part of our regular Young Entrepreneurs series, Business Advice caught up with Stuart to find out what he did to go viral and how that has helped him pave his way in the world of business.
Who are you and what is your business?
I’m Mitchell Stuar, a 21-year-old finance entrepreneur, and the founder of social media marketing company Inferno Media.
Based in Bournemouth, we focus solely on social media marketing and ad buying for multi-national companies across a variety of different sectors including e-commerce, medical and finance-based businesses.
With 89% of the UK population using the internet, we at Inferno Media believe that there has never been a more critical time to embrace the world online.
Where did the concept come from?
The idea to launch my own social media business was borne while I was still at school.
I created a parody twitter account that was based on a film character, which grew to have 150,000 followers in just 4 weeks. After selling the account and making a large profit, I realized I could use my experience to help other businesses build brand awareness, particularly in the social media and ad space.
How did you fund your business?
Although I had some savings to initially kick-start my venture, I needed access to additional capital to grow my business. I had a vision for the future, but to achieve my goal, I needed financial backing from a third party to get there.
That’s where The Start Up Loans Company came in. I approached them for a government-backed loan, which I used for working capital to grow and expand the business. In particular, the Start Up Loan helped me fund our marketing and head count in the office.
As a result of the funding, we were able to open a second office in Shoreditch, which helped us extend our client-base to London and break into the market successfully. This was an essential part of our business growth.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?
It’s no secret that start-ups often face challenges in the early stages of starting up. For us, it was about hiring the right employees and bringing in suitable clients. To make this successful, it’s important to secure the correct office space, which was established as a result of securing the Start Up Loan.
For anyone considering starting their own business, I would advise to stay flexible when searching for premises. As business sales can fluctuate, you need may need to accommodate for seasonal peaks. There needs to be a balance between profit margins and finding the right premises, so it’s essential to manage overheads accordingly.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
We were extremely proud that Inferno Media was rated the top Social Media agency in the South Coast by Google.
A personal highlight for me was when I featured on BIMA’s top 100 list for thought-leaders in the media aged 21 and under in 2017.
What marketing strategies have you used?
Research shows that the average consumer checks their phone 95 times a day. We analysed how people consume content and found that more time is spent online, and print no longer has as much influence. We wanted to capitalise on this, and
built our business model to cater for this demand.
In 2018, consumers no longer pay as much attention to billboards – we live in a digital world, and brands have to adapt to ensure cut-through.
In five years’ time, I’ll be…
The plan is to keep growing the business and to gain more international clients and win more awards.
I would also love to break into the US market, as it’s been a personal dream to open an office in New York. In the US, there’s greater access to market share and more opportunities for the business to grow.
Who are your business heroes and why?
Elon Musk – his innovation and determination to succeed is admirable. These are essential qualities for any business owner.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
For anyone considering starting their own business, I’d say it’s going to be tough in the beginning but it’s worth the blood, sweat and tears.
It can be difficult to push through challenges – whether that’s access to capital, establishing a client-base, or growing head-count – but it’s also extremely rewarding.
Remember though, the little wins are important and everyday it gets easier and easier.
What’s your favourite way to spend downtime?
In my spare time I like to play golf and travel. I visit the US often as New York is one of my favourite cities.
Last series you binge watched?
I’ve recently finished Breaking Bad and Suits. They’re both entertaining and I like that they both focus on negotiating business power.
What three things can’t you live without?
I could not live without my passport, my phone and my camera.
What app do you use the most?
Definitely Instagram! I love how visual it is.
What song is always on your playlist?
I don’t have a favourite song I like to change it up. I always listen to whatever’s on the radio as I love the variety.
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