Addirect: Ben Grant
Ben Grant tells us about his revolutionary new advertising tool - the Admirror
Ben Grant, 24, was looking for the most effective form of advertising to sell to his customers. His company Addirect experimented with a number of ideas until created something that reflected their ambitions – the Admirror.
The Admirror works as any normal mirror but also doubles as a screen for advertising.
So when you are combing your hair or powdering your nose, you might find yourself looking at, for instance, a commercial for the new Spiderman movie.
“We were looking for an area where we knew we would catch a person’s attention,” explains Grant. “We thought that a mirror was the ideal place as everyone looks in one before they leave the bathroom.”
Grant’s company had been working in the field of outdoor advertising for about eight months before they created their new product.
Initially, they had been selling a machine that dispensed discount vouchers to universities and supermarkets, however Grant was looking for more.
“I was working with a couple of designers and we had tried different types of display units until eventually we came up with the idea of mirrors.
“It was really about putting together a number of different ideas and testing out the concepts until we came up with the perfect solution.”
Addirect directly approach site owners such as bars, theatres, cinemas and suggest that they have to have the mirrors in their bathrooms.
“This is the easy part because you are offering them money to have a free item which they already need,” he explains.
They then go to the advertisers to pay for their products image to be displayed on the mirror.
“When we launched the mirror it was actually a snowball effect. It was really nice going to our existing customers with something so new and different.”
However, although their product helps them to stand out from the competition, having something new presents its own challenges.
“Although it is very exciting and a lot of advertisers are realising the potential, many still like using traditional techniques and convincing them of your product and getting them even to trial it is very difficult because people are set in their own ways.
“We have been dealing with a lot of national billion pound companies and often innovation levels and development levels can be quite limited due to that apprehension.”
“But we have found that once you open the door and get that foot in then life is much easier. You have to break that original barrier.”
Financing a business venture is so often a major difficulty for a start-up to overcome, Grant’s way forward stemmed from his work prior to setting up at an investment bank.
“The initial investment came from myself. For the second stage we brought in an external venture capital company, who I originally worked with in my previous employment.
“Moving forward we are looking for alternative means of investment as we are looking to expand internationally as well.”
The company now has 10 employees and is ‘rapidly growing’, it is likely the company will be expanding overseas although Grant expects that more investment will be needed before that step.
Grant has several business mentors and advises other businesses owners of the recommends that other entrepreneurs find themselves one before they go it alone. “There are many people in the industry who are friends of ours and have helped us to get to the stage that we are now at.”
Getting a mentor is not an easy thing to do but Grant feels that there is only really one way forward.
“I think it is really just about getting on the phone and finding the people who are prepared to help you.
“I follow a very ‘go-get-them’ type attitude and I think that if people need a mentor than they can get them themselves.
“Does everyone need a mentor? I think it is very important especially if you are going forward into a new industry and starting up a new business and particularly if you don’t the have experience of running one before.”
International expansion beckons for Addirect, however Grant says he is pleased that he started up in this country as he feels that the business climate in the UK is a better than many other countries.
“I think it has a very entrepreneurial attitude. I have spoken to potential partners overseas and it sounds like they have a much harder environment to work in.
“We have found that there is an environment here where people are willing to help.
“There is an availability of investment capital as well which makes life much easier if you want to expand at a rapid rate.”
Grant says that he admires people that start businesses that have not been tried before such Easy Jet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
“With any new business there can be huge profits to be made but also there are huge risks as well.
“Anyone who is willing to risk that deserves the respect and the rewards they get from it.”
At the age of just 24 Grant has achieved a great deal with his company and he has some straightforward advice for those considering a similar route.
“I think hard work and determination is what it is all about.
“If you have a good concept that works in theory and you have real passion for it and you follow every possible route there is
“We have a saying here that the only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.”