Ian Brown invested everything into complete cinema solution Film Mobile, and with the support of Entrepreneurial Spark and Business Gateway, he’s become a superstar.
What did you do before you started this business?
Before starting Film Mobile in 2010 I was a manager and engineer for Cineworld Cinemas, and a Union Representative for Bectu.
What inspired you to start up?
After helping to negotiate the redundancy of projectionists within Cineworld during the digital cinema rollout, I knew I didn’t want to leave the cinema industry but that my expertise could be used elsewhere. I used my experience and knowledge of how the cinema industry operates to create a company that would help bring strength back to independent cinemas while reducing their overheads.
Tell us about your business in 100 words
Film Mobile is the UK’s only ‘Complete Cinema Solution’ company. We offer all of the services that an independent cinema would need to operate under one umbrella and strengthen cinemas’ negotiating power while also reducing their overheads.
We are the UK’s leader in Film Festival supply and technical support being the partner with Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Sheffield Film Festivals for both venue conversion and operation and outdoor pop up cinema.
We also have a community outreach division that focuses on bringing cinema back to the communities and have helped over 35 towns get regular access to new release.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Film Mobile helps open and operate cinemas in the UK to give more people local access to new release cinema in the same capacity as cities. This allows more people to enjoy the magic of cinema right there on their doorstep at an affordable cost in the same high quality of the big multiplexes.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
At present, I receive fantastic support from Entrepreneurial Spark and Business Gateway’s “Growth Pipeline”. The advice and support from Entrepreneurial Spark has been invaluable to growing and scaling Film Mobile Ltd. and I am eternally grateful for their understanding and faith in myself and Film Mobile.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I used ten years of service redundancy from my previous job, so used this and all of my savings to start the business in 2010. Since then, the business has grown organically at a fast pace while establishing a strong reputation in the cinema sector.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Becoming the leading film festival support and head office company in the UK was a fantastic moment, coupled with being responsible for assisting and enabling the opening of eight full time and part time cinemas in the UK in the last four years.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
There are companies which provide elements of the service we provide but nothing that is all under the one umbrella. They key thing was recruiting a team that was from different sectors to create a unique package.
Some companies are heavily reliant on government or lottery funding, but I have been determined to be self-sustaining make our clients self-sustaining.
If a venue shows art house or independent cinema (and I do believe this is important) it needs to be supported and made possible by commercial cinema as you never know when funding will run out.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
It is one of the most stressful, underappreciated and understated jobs you will ever choose while at the same time being the most rewarding, exciting, adrenaline filled lifestyle you will ever have the luxury and privilege of having.
Knowing that your ambition, vision and drive will change people lives, create jobs and make a difference in the world (no matter how big or small a difference) is the most fulfilling feeling and is my key driver to always be accelerating and to succeed for the people that have placed their faith and trust in me.
I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
At present, we are expanding our UK portfolio of cinemas and aim to have our New Zealand and Australia division up and running by the end of the year. In five years we are hoping to expand to the USA and become the world’s only international cinema support company which changes the way the independent cinema sector operates across the world.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?