A social media video start-up based in Manchester is targeting £1 million turnover and a staff of 20-30 within five years.
Fraser Cottrell and Nicholas Beddows, both 23, eschewed the chance to go to university to set up Fraggell Productions as teenagers.
Determined to make it under our own steam rather than working for other people, their videos have now clocked up 27 million views globally while they count the likes of Barclaycard, Saint Laurent, Gap, Lavish Alice and Papa John’s as clients.
“I never want us to become a marketing agency but more a full-blown creative content agency with a much bigger studio to house the team,” Cottrell told BusinessCloud.
“In the next five years, I want us to carry on growing both in people and turnover. My goal is high: I want us to turnover £1 million.
“It’s a massive target but I have so many ideas for Fraggell Productions and I think that the work we create is already at a standard above larger agencies.
“Our team currently comprises three full-time staff members but I’d like to grow that number to around 20 to 30 in five years. I believe that investing in talent is important and giving younger people a chance is vital.”
They recently added eCommerce fashion brand PrettyLittleThing (pictured above) to that roster and also edited a new web show – Best Friends – for YouTuber Logan Paul, who has notched up more that 18 million subscribers and is revolutionising the online video landscape.
“Having PrettyLittleThing become a regular client was a major goal for us. It’s one of the biggest brands worldwide and happens to be based in Manchester,” added Cottrell.
“We love the team there and working with them is amazing.”
College friends Cottrell and Beddows wanted to shake up what they saw as staid and formulaic video content.
“When we started there were a few companies making video but most of them were run by out of touch former television professionals,” said Cottrell. “No one young was doing it and that, paired with the move to social video, meant that we spied a gap in the market.
“People wanted videos creating specifically for social media and no one was around to make them so that’s what we did. We started creating digital-first video for brands all over the world.
“All of our content is created specifically for social media, not as an afterthought or as part of a wider traditional media ad campaign. They are tailored to each individual social media platform [including Snapchat and TikTok] meaning that it resonates with their varying user demographics and drives home whatever message we are conveying to a vast audience.”
When starting out at 17, the duo faced discrimination due to their young age, Cottrell says.
“It’s only just starting to change. We found this a major problem when starting out,” he said.
“People wouldn’t trust us because of our age and didn’t let us show off what we could create, meaning we lost pitches. Happily, times are changing and people know that the younger generation holds the key to success.
“We had to work hard to build up trust, even if that meant working for reduced rates to prove our worth. A willingness to take on a wide variety of projects allowed us to build our portfolio.
“Once people could see what we were capable of, we rapidly gained more clients.”
Their first major client was Northcoders in June 2017. One GIF they produced for the coding bootcamp’s summer campaign hit a million views overnight, showing up on the Instagram GIF homepage and since increasing to 2.1 million views. Indeed their total accumulated GIF views are now at more than 51 million.
Moving into their first business premises, which had no heating and a leaking roof, was also a challenge.
“We spent our days off decorating and making the place look presentable,” said Cottrell. “Having the space allowed us to be more creative and always be working on growing Fraggell Productions so this was a huge step for us.
“It’s always hard to get people to believe in a start-up but we worked with some pretty great brands early on, like LadBible, which gave us much needed credibility.”
So what does the future hold for video content?
“There will be major growth in the way that we consume video and where,” said Cottrell. “Platforms like YouTube will take over our big screens at home and not just our phones and laptops.
“For us a big one is Twitch, currently a niche streaming website for gamers that will see major growth. Everyone wants live content and entertainment and Twitch gives us all that as well as amazing opportunities for advertisers.
“Knowing about the latest developments is how we say ahead of the competition. Much of our lives are spent observing what’s coming up so we can beat people to it.
“Research is key for us and always trying new things with clients that trust us. We sit down together a lot and talk.
“Letting our minds just be free for a while allows us to think up some crazy ideas and new ways we can make video.”