Jonathan from Mighty Giant popped into the huddled office to discuss his reasons why Manchester is a prime location for business growth and which qualities he thinks will help business owners succeed.
Jonathan Ashworth – Mighty Giant
What’s your name, position and where do you work?
Hi. I’m Johnny Ashworth. I’m the Creative Director at Mighty Giant.
Describe your business in one sentence.
We create content that moves. We use motion design, animation and 3D to bring ideas to life.
What separates you from the competition?
I’d say our broad range and the diversity we have. We deliberately don’t have a house style which keeps things fresh for us and our clients. That means we have various ways of tackling each project in-house. We’re a small team but we’ve got VFX, illustration, design and 3D.
What have been the highlights of your company so far?
Early on, I’d say the Blue Peter job we did which was the springboard to the company starting. It was an iconic show to work on where we did the rebrand and the titles. But since then, probably the Big Chip Award that we won – it’s nice to get recognition!
More recently, we’ve just completed a big project for LEGO with True North, which was a big one for us and a complicated project too. The client was very happy with it and that’s a rewarding one for us.
What qualities are needed to succeed in your industry?
You need to listen and be able to explain, as well, to the client what it is you’re doing and why you’re doing it. You’ve got to appreciate that not everyone understands your craft and why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s something that, as a designer when I was younger, I found hard to get across but I think that we’re getting better at that and it’s improving relationships with our clients.
You’ve also got to stay creative. If you don’t keep looking out there and keeping yourself fresh in a company like this then you start to get stale.
Why do new businesses choose Manchester?
I think Manchester’s quite unique in that it’s big but it’s not too big. It helps communities form and it helps partnerships thrive within the city.
There’s a lot of talk in Manchester about competing with London which I always find quite strange. London’s a distinct and unique global city, you don’t get New York worrying about what San Francisco is doing. Manchester has its own place and I think it benefits as a result.
Who are some local companies you would recommend?
In our sector, I would say Flipbook who in the last 3 years have really upped their VFX offering. They’re really starting to go places and someone I’d consider friends of ours. And likewise, Kilogram who are a fantastic animation company and always deliver.
Who do you think are the most influential people in the local business scene?
For me, it’s the people who are leading by example. The likes of Winnie and Tony at Code and all the people there who are a great part of the Manchester scene. Likewise, Lou and Adam at Magnetic North – the people who are quietly getting on with it but are showing how proud we should be of working in Manchester.
Do you have any advice for new businesses in Manchester?
It’s important to get out there and meet people and join the networking scene. I’d also say, choose your networking carefully. You can spend a lot of time at a huge event with hundreds of people and not really make any great contacts. Whereas if you find the right event where you’re sat around a table with 4 or 5 people, you can make some key partnerships there.
I’d also say, don’t just focus on the networking. It’s important but you’ve also got to focus on what you’re doing and why you’re here. Focus on the day job.
What’s the main benefit of working in Manchester?
For me, it’s collaboration. I started the business in London and then moved back up to my home town of Manchester and I see a lot more of that going on here. It’s a place where small companies help each other out a lot.
I also run a night called Motion North, which is a meeting that we have every quarter with companies like ours. We’re getting about a hundred people there and it’s formed a real community. You could see it as a room full of your competitors but I don’t get that feeling up here, I get the feeling that there’s a real, sort of like help each other out community feel.
Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Manchester?
For me, I’d say the Market House in Altrincham, which is an amazing redevelopment of an old market which has been turned into somewhere to go and eat and drink with lots of independent outlets. It’s a great place.
Thanks for watching. I’m Johnny from Mighty Giant and this was huddled.