A Cardiff-based content development disruptor secures funding and creates jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

EatSleep Media is a content development agency in Cardiff, which does things a little bit differently. With a team of experienced videographers, film-makers and communicators, and support from the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service, the business found ways to grow despite the challenges, by developing more entertaining and unique content.

  • £20,000 secured through the Economic Resilience Fund Phase 2 and 3.
  • 4 jobs safeguarded.
  • 3 new jobs created.
  • Signed up to the Business Wales Equality and Green Growth pledges.

Introduction to business

Founded by Daniel J. Harris, Laurence Mora and Alex Feeney, EatSleep Media is a video and audio content development agency, creating magazine-style programmes, which help organisations build long-lasting sustainable relationships with their target audiences.

EatSleep Media 2019

We asked Co-Founder Alex Feeney to tell us more about how the idea for the business came about.

Why did you decide to set up your own business?

EatSleep Media developed out of a podcast about Welsh football, called EatSleepFootyRepeat, which turned into an online video show.

The Football Association of Wales had been keeping an eye on what we were doing and asked us to make a programme which celebrated the heroes of Welsh football, from grassroots volunteers right up to international stars, and promoted its key strategic objectives. 

FC Cymru was born and we realised that the model of finding ambassadors and advocates to talk to target audiences at their level, rather than in corporate jargon, could work in any sector.

Between our three founders, Daniel, Laurence and myself, we have huge experience of filmmaking, journalism and corporate communications, so we are ideally placed to tell dynamic stories via multiple media, which promote an organisation’s key objectives in a way its target audience wants.

What challenges did you face?

Probably the first real challenge we faced was that it took one of the founders a while to realise he’d started a company! The other two were busy building and developing it. 

So, I suppose the first thing we learned was that if there is more than one founder, it's really important to establish exactly how each sees the business, their part in it, how it will work and what the ultimate objective is.

Having those honest conversations about vision and expectations early on helps you set the parameters for your business.

Another challenge was making people understand what we were doing, why it was different to other businesses and why it was better. There was nothing like our approach on the market at the time and that can mean you question whether you are doing the right thing.

But we trusted our judgement, our experience and our team, and we found supportive clients who saw the benefit of how we do things.

Business Wales support

  • £20,000 secured through the Economic Resilience Fund Phase 2 and 3.
  • 4 jobs safeguarded.
  • 3 new jobs created.
  • Signed up to the Business Wales Equality and Green Growth pledges.

Business Wales’ Growth Adviser Miranda Bishop supported EatSleep Media with their growth plans before and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, helping the business secure £20,000 in ERF funding, as well as safeguard and create jobs.

Alex and the team also signed up to the Business Wales Equality and Green Growth pledges to help them review, plan, improve and monitor their HR and sustainability practices.

What can you say about your business adviser?

Miranda is just there for us when we need her. Sometimes it could be months, sometimes quite a lot in the space of a few days.

She helps us to focus; she helps with the practical issues, which come with running a business, and advises on where we can find further support. She has also been a huge help during the pandemic, keeping us up to date on the latest Welsh Government announcements, funding opportunities and everything else.

She doesn’t pester or require regular check-ins. We just know that should we come up against a problem, or want to explore an opportunity, we only have to drop her a line and she’ll do her best to help. She’s like Alexa, only way better!

Future plans and ambitions

This time last year we were looking at 2020 as our time to really grow: taking on new staff, securing new clients and developing our own in-house projects. Of course, it didn’t work out like that!

Like so many others, it was a real slog at times and we were working week-to-week in terms of keeping the company going. We were also lucky to have great clients like the Football Association of Wales and Sport Wales, who still wanted to communicate with their target audiences and were looking for innovative ways of doing that.

It made us develop new live streaming and podcast products, and that gave us an opportunity to explore more creative ways of delivering content, which we adopted as part of our portfolio. 

It also gave us the opportunity to focus on a long-term project of ours, a women’s football programme called Ballers.

We wanted to tailor the programme to suit our target audience of 16-25 year-old girls, but as men of a certain age, we had no idea what they wanted.

So, we took the opportunity to find out with a Welsh Government grant and support from Cardiff University’s Data Innovation Accelerator. They taught us how to gather and analyse data to spot trends in content consumption and platforms, which gave us the opportunity to test and shape the product.

Through hard work and creativity turnover for 2020-21 is still ahead of 2019-20, so we’re still growing.

We want to develop Ballers into a fully-fledged platform young girls want to visit to find out about women’s football in the UK and we’re developing other new ideas.

First up is a radio show about punks who go running. It’s called the Running Punks and they’re about an inclusive community supporting each other to run as little or as far as they want, as long as they try and enjoy it.

We have been commissioned to produce a documentary about the challenges of keeping women in sport for Radio Wales and there are other projects in the pipeline around motorsport and football, and, again, we’re looking at them in ways other businesses probably wouldn’t.

Ambition is to make more documentaries, via whatever medium, but continue to develop our client base in terms of our corporate communications content, which features people and their stories at the heart.

If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.

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