Focus On: Ready
Creative campaign agency Ready has had a long journey to get where it is today. Moving to the UK from Beijing at the age of 18 to study at City of Bath College, twin directors Jake Xu and Shane Carnell-Xu created design company Xcetra Media, before rebranding as Ready at the end of 2015. The company is continually growing, taking on fifteen new clients in the last 12 months and planning to expand their team to meet the demand.
“We heard about an education fair at the World Trade Center in Beijing, hosted by the British Embassy,” says Jake. “The City of Bath College had a stand there, and we were captivated by the beautiful pictures of Bath. So we decided to take a leap of faith and make the move.” The brothers have spoken English since childhood, but had never before been to Europe. “Fortunately we instantly felt at home here and have never looked back since.”
After graduating, the pair were both hired by Future Publishing, Bath’s largest publishing firm.
“While we were at Future, we began to take on freelance design work from our colleagues,” says Shane. “Eventually it got to the point where we felt like we could have a viable design business on our hands.” This business, Xcetra Media, grew quickly as they took on more digital campaigns and staff. “At the end of 2015… it became clear we were now much more than a design business. We rebranded from Xcetra Media to Ready—the creative campaign agency."
Do You Have Any Advice For Entrepreneurs?
“We were fortunate in that we had been in the UK for several years before launching our business, so we understood the unique nature of the culture here. For other foreign investors or entrepreneurs, I’d say it is essential to have local support on the ground to navigate this. There is a lot of jargon in British business, particularly in the marketing industry where we operate, and some of it may not translate into other tongues. So having partners or translators who understand the nuances is vital,” says Shane.
For those without a language barrier to overcome, the outlook seems even more positive. “In the UK it is actually very simple to start a business on your own,” says Jake. “You can become a sole trader almost instantly, and that’s how we set up as it incorporates partnerships too. Obviously we’re now a limited company but initially it was great to be able to set up that easily.”
“The only thing we found particularly challenging was the lack of information freely available on things like taxation and protecting our intellectual property. But I understand there are resources available on sites like gov.uk and HMRC these days that can help with that.”
Support for New Businesses
If you’re finding yourself in the same boat as Jake and Shane when they first started out, try the West of England Growth Hub; it provides a huge range of business support, and companies can use the site’s Support Finder to target specific support for their problems. Our own Business Support page has a variety of different advice and contacts, as does gov.uk, as Jake correctly points out. And of course, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’re feeling lost!
The Future of Ready
“We’ve just had a really good twelve months, working with no less than fifteen new clients, taking on new staff and moving to larger premises just off Lower Bristol Road,” says Jake. “As a result, we have some very ambitious plans ahead. Our new office space is perfect for further growth, so we will be expanding our team as we look to diversity our skill set with more digital talent.
We are in the process of refining our positioning—particularly in terms of the way we communicate to prospective clients. We expect this to have a big impact in both the number and type of brands we work with. In particular we are looking at taking on more innovative digital projects. For instance, last year we created a mobile app for No7 Cosmetics that analyses the user’s skin tone and recommends the most relevant products based on the results. We will be looking to work on more projects like this in future, in addition to creative campaigns we already specialise in across digital, print and social media channels.”
“We would also like to play a larger role as advocates for business in Bath and indeed the South West, especially for foreign-born investors and businesspeople wanting to invest in the area,” says Shane. “We have a great deal to offer in terms of advice and support. So we hope to partner with organisations who can benefit from our experience, or help others benefit.”