Ed Hollands is the 25-year-old entrepreneur who first came to the public’s attention as the baby-faced young man who appeared on the BBC series Dragons’ Den in February 2018 when he pitched the idea of DrivenMedia, a business which creates mobile billboards for companies’ messages on the sides of commercial trailers and lorries as they travel around the UK road network.
While Dragon Peter Jones thought Ed might still be at school, the graduate went on to secure investment from Dragon, Jenny Campbell, known as the Cashpoint Queen.
Ed will be taking to the stage at the South West Business Expo at STEAM in Swindon on Thursday 4th July sharing his story ‘From The Roadside To Dragons’ Den and Beyond…” Ahead of the show, we met Ed to find out more about him and his business.
Where is DrivenMedia today?
This year has been utterly amazing, we now have 75 branded trucks on the road sharing company messages with another ten commissioned and ready to go. Just a year ago we had five live on the road. The growth has been phenomenal and our hard work is starting to pay off. We’re now a team of three, myself, my finance guru (and fiancé) Tara and my sales director Phil. I’m currently interviewing for another sales role to assist us with further growth.
How has it been to work with Jenny Campbell?
It’s been such a help to the business to have her input and to enjoy the support of her team. She’s been there all the way through. This has not been a ‘flash in the pan’ experience, she has really invested in me, challenged me and continues to push me to move forward. Her team are always on hand, I never feel I cannot call and ask their advice. The mentorship on offer has been outstanding and beyond what I expected.
Was the Dragons’ Den experience worth it?
It was absolutely the right choice for me. Don’t get me wrong, although the publicity was hugely valuable, it’s not something you can do lightly. These are serious business people and you need to prepare, having a good idea is not enough on its own. You need to know your numbers, you need to be able to demonstrate you’ve a good grasp of your market and you have to show in the hour or so you are in front of them that you have passion and commitment. You also should have an idea of which Dragon you’d like to work with and a clear idea of how much equity you are prepared to give away, you need to know how to make a deal which works for you. Come prepared to negotiate. It’s one of the most terrifying experiences in business I’ve ever had. From it has come my business relationship with Jenny and her team, more follow up opportunities with the BBC and more visibility.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an entrepreneur?
I’ll be honest it is my age! Walking into to a haulier’s office and then being asked “is your boss coming?” never really starts a relationship off that well. It still happens; we all saw Peter Jones’ reaction when he thought I was 14. Aside from that, it’s got to be speaking with the bigger brands. However, I’m pushing through as I think all young entrepreneurs face these issues and I’m finding it easier over time and, as my profile and brand grows, people are beginning to know me before I arrive so that can really help.
What type of business gets the marketing opportunity that you offer?
A range – often it’s those businesses which want to get a message out nationally or regionally rather than a very local business. Examples include icelolly.com; leasing.com and Trakm8. We’ve done lorry wraps for universities, charities, start-ups and established businesses.
Recently a Derby based car dealership called Beechwood Mazda launched a wrap on the back a truck which travels around the city and the surrounding areas and within a fortnight had two customers come in to buy a car. Within the fortnight, the lorry paid for itself and that lorry is on the road for a test period of three months. I’m pretty sure they’ll want to renew and extend their campaign now.
Can you do this for any business?
We need to understand the geographic area which is important to a client and ensure we source the right trucks which are travelling around that area. For a national brand that’s easy as we have a bank of hauliers we can work with nationally however sometimes it takes a little time.
For a car dealership for example, we may have to source a more local haulage business which will agree to have its lorries wrapped (they do get paid for this) in order to source the right road network. This can take time however we will actively seek that opportunity if a company is serious about adding DrivenMedia to their marketing mix.
What does it cost?
The investment for a 12-month campaign for a rear-only advertisement is £4,000 plus VAT at the moment and for a full wrap £8,000 plus VAT. That includes production, fitting and rental based upon a client’s own brand designs or our teams, and also live GPS tracking and reporting throughout that period of time.
Other shorter options are available, the shortest time we’d recommend a truck should be wrapped is six months for a full wrap and three months for a rear due to production costs and from experience in terms of return.
What do you do when you are not working?
Any start-up entrepreneur knows that you work crazy hours to get towards your goal and it’s really hard to switch off. I do try my best to take time off with my fiancé Tara and our family and friends. It’s important to take time, have a few days away when you can and remind yourself why you do what you do. Family has always been important to me.
One thing I do at weekends is, believe it or not, dodgeball. I’m a qualified referee and I referee games across the UK. I got into the sport at university and just loved it, it’s fast, energetic and a little crazy. I suppose it’s a bit like me!
What’s coming up later in the year?
There are some exciting business developments coming along, though I can’t say too much at this stage. The most exciting thing for me is my forthcoming wedding. I’m getting married to Tara in August. We’ve been together for seven years after meeting at a scout and guides camp and she’s the love of my life. I could not have done any of this without her support. I’m becoming increasingly nervous, that feeling like you’ve forgotten something when you haven’t, and I’m wondering if my wedding day might be even more nerve-wracking than Dragons’ Den and yes Jenny has been invited!
To find out more about DrivenMedia visit: www.drivenmedia.co.uk and to book your ticket to see Ed speak at South West Expo on Thursday 4th July, click here.