Anthony Harris - Castle Cake
Business Management graduate Anthony Harris admits that he “kind of fell into” his business, Castle Cake, whilst working as a musician for a friend in Bristol. His friend, Peter Kimball-Evans, was also working as an animator. Anthony realised that, with no website and them both trying to make it on their own, he could combine their abilities into a production house business. “I basically saw that there was a need, rather than having a grand master plan to start a business”, he explains.
Anthony admits that the business didn’t get off to a perfect start. “We started trying to speak to clients and it just didn’t work”, he explains. “We had some awful meetings - we didn’t have a clue what we were doing or who we were approaching. That’s when we came to the Student Enterprise.” Before attending IGNITE - a week long workshop for entrepreneurs - Anthony was unaware of the help available through Cardiff University. He soon set up a meeting with one of the team at Student Enterprise to discuss his idea and problems. “We realised it was more about trying to meet people”, he says. “There’s so much competition, with lots of people trying to do the same thing, so we needed to find out what our customers needed and wanted.”
Castle Cake didn’t need much funding to start, and they were able to design and develop a website themselves. “I had no idea how to do it but I knew exactly what we wanted, so we sat down with a lot of coffee and went through it page by page”, Anthony explains. “It took Pete weeks to develop.” Anthony was successful in receiving a bursary from Student Enterprise, which he says they “used to cover the weeks that it took to design the website, and the research we carried out into different companies.”
Anthony admits he was naïve to begin with. “Trying to get a business started takes a long time, which was probably one of the main downfalls”, he says. “I assumed we’d put up a website and bring people in, but we did actually have to work hard”. It wasn’t until Castle Cake secured some work with Live Unltd that Anthony realised how successful the business was becoming. “It was great to have our first big client contact”, Anthony says. “Rather than us bumbling through it we were winning some work – it was amazing. It was then that we knew we could do it.”
Like many students, Anthony had ideas which came and went throughout his University days. “Back in my first year, a group of us used to sit for hours talking about starting an open mic night at the Social - that never happened”, he admits. Anthony’s advice to other budding entrepreneurs echoes the words of Richard Branson: ‘Just do it!’. Seeking advice and attending workshops gave Anthony the confidence to run with his idea. Despite learning about business and marketing within his degree, Anthony found that he was lacking the vital skills to present his ideas and win business. “Confidence is what it’s really about”, Anthony explains. “There was one lady who did a drama-based class at IGNITE. I hate drama and I was awful at school, and the class was the most uncomfortable, awkward thing ever but it really helped taking me out of my comfort zone.”
Anthony and Peter Kimball-Evans are now working with a third partner, Nat Hills (a Cardiff Medical student).
Find out more about Castle Cake at: www.castlecake.co.uk