A few weeks ago, I took a trip down to West London to meet one of the co-founders of CreativeNerds, Dirujan Sabesan at their new office in Shepherds Bush, It was my first time meeting Diru as we've only communicated via email and Twitter for the past 3 years.
We spent most of the day catching up, downing cans of Redbull, laughing during takes of the video interview, taking pictures and talking about the journey the business has taken over the past few years.
In our conversation, Diru talks extensively about some of the developments the company has seen since our last interview, his current projects, his breakout project and tips for up and coming entrepreneurs.
All in all, It was a day well spent. This is the edited version of the full intervew.
Watch out for the video interview next week.
Hi Diru, It‘s been a while. How are you doing today?
Hey J! I’m good, nice to finally catch up on everything since the last time we spoke!
CreativeNerds has really grown from the last time we spoke, what are some of your recent developments?
The past few years have been a learning curve for Sam & myself, we’ve gone through a lot of experiences that have made a positive impact on our business. I guess one of the highlights was being nominated for the Spirit of London Awards last year; heading to No.10 to meet the Prime Minister isn’t something you get to do everyday!
We now also have a nice office that our friends at SB.TV have given us as we work in-house with them looking after all their digital media – it’s really good to have some like-minded, motivated & young creative people around us too!
Could you tell us about a difficult period that you’ve had in the business recently and how you overcame it?
I think the most difficult part came when I went to university, I was thinking it would be a risk and I wouldn’t have any time at all to get my CN work done… and that’s exactly what happened.
I had to make a decision that would make a big impact on the business, I had to carry on and slowly watch everything that we’d worked for just drift off or take a risk… (watch out for the video next week to find out more)
For those people still wondering what the hell you’re talking about, could you explain to them what you guys do at CreativeNerds?
We are a digital creative agency, in essence our main workload consists of website designs for clients within the entertainment industry. I like to think of us as a creative powerhouse, being able to deliver everything from logos to full bespoke website packages. One of the most popular projects we’ve worked on is SB.TV – I created the logo back in late 2009 & we also created the first website for them too.
Now as social media grows, and brands / individuals start to realise the power of it – we’ve become consultants for those who need a raise awareness of their product or their brand.
What would you say was your breakout project during your early days?
Tinchy Stryder – If it wasn’t for him & his management allowing us to create a series of MySpace layouts for Tinch, I think we would have had a slower start.. I’m always thankful to the opportunity they gave me, and to this day we still keep in contact. I was persistent in contacting them, and I did the work for free, as long as I was able to place our company logo on the top banner… it worked!
What’s your role in the business?
I’m the co-founder & lead designer. As fun as it is being the lead designer, I am slowly starting to ease back on Photoshop, I’m slowly finding young creative like myself and allowing them to earn some money as well as build their portfolio. I’m not perfect at what I do, but I feel I have enough experience to guide & project manage jobs with a creative point of view. Trying to design everything for each client will never work, you have to make yourself efficient enough to provide a reliable & easy service.
What would you say has been some of the key things that you’ve implemented to accelerate the growth of the company recently?
Investing in a project management system, I think that was one of the big flaws we had from the start, but then we never had any guidance, we just kept learning from our mistakes & by using our common sense.
Now being able to look over everything, set deadlines & assign freelancers to projects means we have a smooth journey for each project from start to finish.
Social media is by far one of the biggest factors for business growth, I have never spent a single penny on advertising to gain work, its all been through word of mouth and social media – It’s the best & honest way to gain clients because your friends or your existing clients are referring you naturally.
How have you been able to fund it?
Who needs funding in this sector? I started off with a 17” screen and some horribly slow windows machine, I couldn’t afford to get a Mac but I made sure I was as creative and unique as possible.
Funding came a lot further down the line, around July 2011 I won a Smarta competition, and won 5K worth of office equipment from Brother. That has helped, although I regretted buying an iMac and a Macbook Pro just a few months before that!
What project are you currently working on at the moment?
Currently we’re just finishing up Trevor Nelsons website, very different to most of the websites we’ve done and it should be coming out early August.
We’re also working on social media strategies for West End DJ’s who are a popular retailer of DJ / Lighing equipment with over 4 stores in London.
And we’ve just finished a Uni comparison website which we were commissioned to create from our friends at The Eleven - http://www.theeleven.co.uk/
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
Being asked to be a judge on a new BBC 3 Programme that is scheduled to air in September, it’s great! I was really surprised to have been picked for it, but it worked out so well and I met some amazing young people that inspired me to create www.freeta.co.uk
I’m not allowed to disclose the information of the show or its name till its all ready!
What should be expecting from yourself and Creative Nerds for the rest of 2012?
Nothing more than what you have already seen, always going above and beyond to create some mind blowing work
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Never be scared to ask – If you have a question, a doubt about your business and you need some help, don’t just sit there and wait for the problem to hit you. Ask for advice, there are many online websites who support young entrepreneurs, and loads to give you assistance on setting up your company.
Be Unique – I’ve said that in almost every interview, being unique & having the mind-set to take a risk will get you places, following the crowd and never breaking the conventions will keep you with the rest of the crowd.
Network – From my point of view, sometimes in this industry and I think it probably applies to most; it’s the people you know, so try and network with as many people as you can, attend networking events, socialise over twitter & interact with people that have the same interests at you. Having all these connections means you build a powerful circle of associates that can help you and recommend you to new clients.
Photography by Toyin Dawudu.
Look for the video interview with Dirujan next week on our YouTube