Two BU graduates who have known each other since the age of three have now become business partners with the launch of a new venture.
Stuart Verschoyle and Chris Pettigrew both studied Multimedia Communications at BU, graduating a year apart in 2002 and 2003. Having grown up close to one another and attended the same primary school, they hadn’t realised they were at the same university until a chance meeting at Megabowl where they were both working. After graduation they kept in touch, but it wasn’t until a conversation over a pint, when Chris was visiting the UK from his home in Singapore last year, that the idea for a new business emerged.
Stuart said: “After BU I had developed my career as a web developer, building sites and then moving into producing interactive videos for London-based agencies. As was the case for many people, the events of 2020 prompted me to change tack. My son was born in March, and then as the pandemic hit I was furloughed from my job and later made redundant. I had been thinking about going it alone and this provided the perfect opportunity. I had built enough experience and contacts and decided to explore running my own business as opposed to working for someone else.”
Chris meanwhile had been living and working in Singapore, helping to run the technical aspects of a global gym franchise. Used to partnering on new ventures, he was open to the idea of going into business with someone he knew so well. Having combined their experience and expertise, the pair launched Digma which provides interactive digital videos to help companies increase brand awareness, user engagement and sales.
Chris said: “While I was used to running a business, this wasn’t a product area I knew. However, I was impressed with the concept and we began to get really good feedback when we showcased it to others. Starting a business with someone takes a lot of trust, but given that Stuart and I have known each other for so long, and have so much shared history, makes things a lot easier.”
Stuart and Chris have made good use of the support available to those starting a new business. Stuart has utilised the New Enterprise Allowance to gain access to funding and professional mentoring. They have also been able to share their product via online forums and events to get user feedback as it has developed.
Stuart said: “While the pandemic and economic downturn brings challenges, I believe that it also presents opportunities and we are excited about the future of the business. My advice to others in a similar position is to think about the experience and expertise you already have to draw on, and to make the most of the advice and support which is out there.”