Social Enterprise Day 2022 | Spotlight on StudioFV
21/11/2022 (Staff Post - Iain Cunningham )
As part of Social Enterprise week 2022, Renfrewshire Social Enterprise network (RenSEN) will be promoting our new Dashboard demographic and highlighting the work of local social enterprise organisations. SE’s contribute significantly to our local economy with £123m during 2021-22 financial year.
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Interview with StudioFV
Q1. Why did you start a social enterprise? (SE)
StudioFV was established in 2007 in response to the perceived need for long-term unemployed/people with long-term conditions to gain appropriate multi-media industry experience in a supportive, apprenticeship model environment. Our sister organisation, Fablevision had recognised the reiterative cycle of no job/no CV/no experience/no job experienced by (mainly but not exclusively) young people – many with qualifications – who found it impossible to break into the media and creative industries.
Q2. Can you tell us what were your biggest challenges starting up the SE?
The biggest challenges starting up an SE are (without track record, portfolio or testimonials) attracting clients willing to pay the going rate for goods or services. There is a perception that a social enterprise will somehow be cheaper than a commercial company which is totally misplaced. Whereas a commercial company is focused solely on the product, a social enterprise has to not only deliver product to the same professional quality and standards, but also has to be a training provider, a mentoring organisation and a safe, inclusive space for vulnerable people. With an initial set of contracts from the charity, Fablevision, to provide film, editing, marketing, social media and event support services for the cultural charity's projects, StudioFV soon established itself as the 'go-to' multimedia provider for the social enterprise sector. Main customers continue to be other social enterprises within RENSEN, GSEN and other Scottish Social Enterprise networks but clients now also span across the public and private sectors too with contracts delivered for NHSGGC, UWS, and many more.
Q3. Can you give some tips for other social entrepreneurs thinking about starting up a SE
- The structure of the organisation is crucial: governance, constitution and systems.
- Work within the social enterprise 'code' which means a voluntary board of directors, an asset lock and a clear focus on mission/purpose.
- Quality is crucial. People want to buy from a social enterprise and feel good about their purchase having made a difference, but only if that product/service is top quality.
- Networks are crucial: make sure you are well embedded in local, national and international networks of likeminded enterprises. This cannot be emphasised enough as it is networks that give opportunities for inter-trading, learning and benchmarking, peer support and advice that will help you avoid making the big mistakes in the first place .
- Don't under price. It's very easy to fall into loss making scenarios almost without realising it and it's hard to charge a proper rate if you start off underpricing.
- Always document everything you do and achieve.
- Marketing is crucial: telling your story and showing off your offerings: your website, your film blogs, your images, your socials... these are the tools of your trade and of course, if you don't feel confident in these areas yourselves, then you can always engage with StudioFV to provide those services for you!
Q4. Can you tell us what has been the highlights of starting and running your SE
Every time a client is satisfied with the product/service purchased from StudioFV is a highlight and of course, every successful output in film, photography, social media, website content etc., gives portfolio and CV evidence of experience to the young people who have worked on that project.
Every time a successful young person moves into training or employment (many setting up as sole traders/running their own social enterprises). Recently, an ex-offender who acknowledged his experience with us as having 'turned his life around' came back to volunteer as a way of repaying and expressing gratitude and two young people who became employed with us through our apprenticeship training model & the Kickstart scheme have just started degree courses with UWS in Film, TV and Radio. Another two of our long-term unemployed young people employed through the Kickstart scheme have progressed further into management roles within StudioFV, gaining crucial experience and skills within the creative industries and business management.
A Scottish Government Social Return on Investment Audit demonstrated £13.68 of social return for every £1 of investment in our work. This was calculated on the amount of money saved to the NHS in terms of hospitalisation, medication and counselling due to the impact on mental health and wellbeing through engagement with StudioFV.
Q5. What help / support did you get from Engage?
Enormous help and support over the years with a special shout out to Iain Cunningham who – recognising the crucial role of networking in supporting social enterprises to thrive - has championed the establishment of RENSEN and supports the network with administrative and co-ordination support. StudioFV has attended most of the networking sessions (even during the pandemic when it was a lifeline to link in with others in the same boat) and many of the training opportunities on offer. Iain has also linked StudioFV with potential clients and has helped to promote our products and services through initiatives like this one!
Q6. What’s next?
Formerly Fablevision Studios, StudioFV is now rebranded, is establishing itself with a new governance structure and is 'stepping up a gear' in terms of profile and product placement. We have so much to offer the business community in Renfrewshire – local businesses in the private sector, charities & social enterprises and also public sector bodies. We want to be part of Renfrewshire's renaissance: helping to tell the story and profile the amazing initiatives that are happening all throughout the area. StudioFV has the media production skills to tell that story for individuals and organisations alike. Call us to discuss what we can do for YOU.