Andrew Dobbie from MadeBrave explains how we helped his company become one of UK’s most dynamic digital creative agencies.
Glasgow-based designer and photographer Andrew Dobbie doesn’t do anything by halves. In 2012, with a new baby at home and just £1,000 in savings, he decided to quit his job as a creative director to set out on his own as a freelance designer.
Thankfully, with his mix of photographic, digital and design skills, Andrew was soon in demand, with almost more work than he could handle.
Within three months he had set up the company as MadeBrave, and after landing a couple of major contracts, he had taken on his first employee. By the end of his first year in business, the MadeBrave team numbered six. Today, the award-winning company employs 23 staff and is one of the UK’s most dynamic brand-led digital creative agencies, working on brand, design, and social media strategy with a range of major corporate and consumer clients.
Finding a creative space
At first Andrew held business and client meetings in city coffee shops, before he found premises in Glasgow’s South Block, a charity-owned mixed use office and studio development.
Andrew says: “The business grew so rapidly that, by the end of the first year, we were running out of space and had to move into a larger suite. After that, as new clients and staff came on board, we needed yet more room to expand.”
“The SE support has been brilliant… They are very good at problem solving, and you can easily tap into the knowledge of their research experts.”
Andrew Dobbie, founder, MadeBrave
That’s when Andrew first contacted us. “I’d never previously engaged with Scottish Enterprise (SE), so it was me who made the first approach. To be honest, it was all new for me.
“I’d always thought that SE dealt only with the big stuff, manufacturers, exporters and the like, but they were very keen to support the creative/digital economy. They got what we were about.”
Grant money opened doors
To allow Andrew to grow his business, we matched his own investment with a Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) grant of £100,000. RSA support is available to domestic and inward investing companies that want to create or safeguard jobs in Scotland.
With MadeBrave’s RSA money came the added benefit of becoming an SE account managed company.
The location Andrew settled on was the Albus Building, a new-build owned by Clyde Gateway, Scotland’s biggest and most ambitious regeneration partnership, then going up in the heart of Glasgow’s historic Bridgeton area.
“Getting in on the Albus project at the design stage, we were able to spec our new offices for our own needs,” says Andrew.
MadeBrave moved into their new offices – a design-led, vibrant, buzzing and creative space - in April 2015.
“The move – into the heart of the city’s East End - attracted a lot of media attention,” says Andrew. “It sparked the curiosity of existing and potential clients – they all wanted to come and see our new offices.”
With RSA support, Andrew is working to take on 10 new employees, who will help extend the MadeBrave talent pool and help grow the business.
Support when you need it
“The SE support has been brilliant,” says Andrew. “Our account manager is on hand whenever I need them. The SE team are very good at problem solving, and you can easily tap into the knowledge of their research experts.
“They have also helped MadeBrave by signposting us to and helping to fund a variety of staff development courses. That helps not only us, and the individuals concerned, but also Scotland’s wider business economy.
“If those people move on from MadeBrave, they take those skills with them.
“On a more personal level, the SE support is very reassuring. It’s great to have someone you can talk with about your business problems or worries. Having SE at the end of a phone means I always have someone to speak to. They let me know that I’m not alone. They are great at introducing you to people and companies who have been on the same business journey.”
Local knowledge, global reach
Since joining the wider SE family, Andrew has gone on to sign-up to the Scottish Business Pledge – a government-backed scheme to promote fair and sustainable business practice – and recently enjoyed Scottish Development International support to join a small group of Scottish digital creatives on a TRCmedia-organised Cross Creative trip to San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
“The trip was a real game changer,” says Andrew. “On a day-to-day basis, I don’t often get time to sit back and think strategically about the agency. In America, I was speaking face-to-face with some of the biggest names in the tech industry.
“That’s the thing about the global tech community - the people in it, the creatives, are all very similar. We all talk the same language.
“That’s why MadeBrave, a Glasgow-based company, can successfully work with clients in America, Australia, India, Ireland or wherever.
“Having SE’s support bolted on to the business supercharges our team, increasing our profile and visibility.
“If I was starting out today, Scottish Enterprise would be the first people I’d want to talk to.”
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