Attend Television: Bryan Wilkes

Bryan Wilkes tells us how he turned his concept of attending events via the internet into a successful business idea

Fed up with missing events that he was unable to attend, Bryan Wilkes decided there had to be another way to make the most of conferences and exhibitions even if he couldn’t physically be there. His solution came in the form of Attend Television, a website which allows users to watch events via the internet. He tells us how he did it.

Name: Bryan Wilkes Age: 57 Business: Attend Television Type of business: Internet Business TV Station Start date: 20th November 2006

Tell us about your business There are two aspects to the business model. We send out film crews with presenters to cover exhibitions and similar events and then have the resulting edited content available online. We also invite event organisers and businesses to upload content on to the Attend.TV website and to construct their own programmes which can then be placed on an appropriate channel.

Was it your first business idea and where did the idea come from? No – but this idea came up during a lunchtime discussion with another business friend. We were both unable to get to a major event in Hong Kong and wished we had some way of getting information about the key exhibitors.

Was your decision to start a business inspired by any other companies or individuals? No – but comparisons may be made regarding the ‘self upload’ aspect of the business to YouTube. In fact I was working on the business plan before YouTube appeared and the experience of visiting Attend.TV is actually more like a proper television station as you can open the site and without touching a thing just watch hours of programming.

What makes you think there’s a market for your business? We have agreements in place with event organisers to film events right through 2007.

What research did you do and did you seek any outside advice? Sounded out companies that I knew had taken exhibition space to see how the package needed to be shaped for them. I also discussed the plan with other business owners whose opinion I trust How did you write your business plan and how accurate have your projections been? I used Microsoft Excel for all the financial projections I am quite happy working with complex spread-sheets. It’s very early days and therefore it is not surprising that the projections are virtually spot on, however new ideas are being offered by the exhibition organisers and stand holders so I expect the final scope of the business will be wider than initially envisaged.

How did you fund the business?I rather not say how much it took to start the business but I financed it from my own funds and one other private investor.

What are the main obstacles to growth and how do you plan to overcome them? The reticence of some event organisers to promote their events by allowing them to be seen over the internet. As the number of events filmed builds up on the website we are getting excellent feed back from exhibitors who can also add our player to their website and event organisers can do the same with whole programme about their event. I think the obstacles will fade away.

What are your main ambitions, to make a lot of money or enjoy what you do? I definitely would not have started this venture if it was not something I would enjoy but it will have to earn its keep in the medium term.

What skills and personal characteristics do you need to start your own business? Perseverance.

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