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Starting a business in Plymouth: Real Visual Group

The start-up studio praises Plymouth's investment opportunities, "cutting edge" technologies and business community...

Company name: Real Visual Group
Founder: Nick Palfrey
Founded: 2011
Description: Real Visual Group creates interactive experiences and virtual worlds for training, architecture, design and marketing applications. It is the first Unity Technologies preferred partner studio, with a global presence and pedigree in delivering projects to multi-nationals, governments and small businesses. It has 20 employees with offices within the heart of Plymouth.

What’s great about starting a business in Plymouth?

Plymouth has an excellent business community with organisations such as Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and Plymouth University, which are heavily involved in promoting entrepreneurship as well as local business. We’re based at Plymouth Science Park, which is home to a community consisting of everything from one man start-ups to multi-national corporations.

The Science Park is a joint venture between Plymouth University and Plymouth City Council and it is designed to create opportunities for tenants to share knowledge and expertise, offer cross sector business opportunities and inspire them to achieve new levels of success.

What business support in Plymouth have you used? How was it?

We were helped massively by moving into Plymouth Science Park (formerly Tamar Science Park), which has supported more than 200 businesses since it opened nearly 20 years ago. Real Visual’s rapid growth and vision is reflected by the science park, which is the location of choice in the South West for building world-class businesses. We have an excellent management team, supporting the growing sales and marketing team that has helped to deliver a ten-fold increase in turnover over the past year.

Recruiting skilled personnel has been a challenge but we work with Creative Skillset and use its Trainee Finder service that matches trainees with companies across the UK’s animation, games, and film high-end TV and VFX industries. The scheme encourages co-investment in skills and training to ensure a continued supply of a new generation of talent, capable of world-class creative content.

Name the top three reasons to set up a business in Plymouth:

  1. Plymouth is the regional capital, a vibrant and dynamic city that has a track record of success. It offers a fantastic opportunity for investors to realise a profitable return as it becomes destination that is recognised as one of the finest, most vibrant waterfront cities in Europe.
  2. Plymouth is an inspirational city that aspires to be among the very best, with excellent educational attainment as well as a place that is cutting edge with high tech, high value industries and jobs, where everyone feels they can be part of its success and it is a centre with a strong regional, national and international identity.
  3. Plymouth is a beautiful location within which to work and live, although seemingly “cut off”, those living within Plymouth have access to multitude of local attractions as well as scenic locations such as Plymouth’s iconic Hoe and Dartmoor National Park. Furthermore, travelling further afield is no problem with the city’s strong travel links allowing those livening in Plymouth to travel anywhere in the country whether this is through car, train, coach or, Exeter’s airport.

Where could Plymouth be better / what does it need?

Often Plymouth is dismissed as being “cut off” from the rest of the United Kingdom and some consider civilisation to end at Exeter, in order to improve the business environment more investment should be put into promoting and advertising the multitude of successful businesses based within Plymouth as well as the multitude of local attractions and locations within Plymouth itself and the surrounding area.

Additionally, to further improve this, investment should also be put into re-opening the city’s airport, although individuals can travel easily to Exeter, investment in the city’s airport would increase convenience for both national and international clients to visit the city.

How easy has it been to access finance to grow?

We attracted sound investment after presenting to a Peninsula Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) event right at the start of the business. Since then, we have grown organically, with this expansion funded through new business.

Where do you go to network in Plymouth?

We're able to network within the microcosm of Plymouth’s Science Park, full of many different businesses, serving different business and customer needs. We also connect with others within the city through social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. For example; promoting restaurants we have visited with clients, this not only helps to promote that particular local business but also, the city as a whole as an attractive place to work and live in.

Additionally, Real Visual Group have strong connections with Plymouth University, often employing graduates and placement students. Not only does this benefit ourselves through employing highly talented individuals but also, supports the local economy and promotes the city’s University through showing the work that alumni can produce, displays the high calibre of students studying at Plymouth University.

Where do you take a client for a business lunch/ meeting?

Whenever we have clients or visitors during the day, we take them to the Jack Rabbit pub for lunch, offering a delicious range of food and a cosy atmosphere with its roaring, log burning fireplaces and classic timber beams. Particularly when clients travel from abroad, this pub is perfect for giving them a taste of England’s south-west rural charm and is in close proximity to Plymouth’s Science Park and Dartmoor National Park.

Where’s great for a company night out?

We often plan our company nights out at The Treasury based in Plymouth’s city centre on Royal Parade. The Treasury is extremely well priced and always provide excellent customer service. Furthermore the atmosphere is fantastic, being a listed building converted from the original 19th century Treasury building their current décor is absolutely fitting and makes for a relaxed and sociable evening out for our members of staff.


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