Case Study

Mark Stuart-Bell

MA Journalism, 2013 SecondDraft.co.uk

Mark Stuart-Bell studied MA Journalism at the University of Sunderland in 2013 and after getting experience working in the video production industry, went on to co-found Second Draft Ltd.

“Self-employment is a lonely pursuit. Being a member of the Enterprise Place has made us feel part of something else, with people sharing the same experiences.

"Myself and my business partner, Glen Colledge, co-founded our video production company, Second Draft in March 2017. With a strong background in broadcast TV, news and commercial content, we bring a cinematic style and years of professional know-how to help businesses tell their story.

"We'd spent nearly three years pitching and making programmes for TV and realised we could take the same skills, experience and knowhow and offer something smarter, deeper and better researched to businesses and organisations than the typical corporate film.

"For anyone who is interested in journalism or documentary, there are a number of stories you have to pursue. There are things you have discovered that you want to share, ideas that intrigue you and things that you can’t stop thinking about. At some point, you realise that to report those stories you need to have the freedom to explore them properly on your own terms.

"The first year in business has been characterised by every emotion, but mostly terror and excitement. We've made plenty of mistakes and wrong assumptions. Going to a networking event for the first time was so nerve-wracking, I almost sacked it off ten times that morning but by the end, I didn't want to leave. I'd been sat at home for a while planning this business, wondering how to meet all of these different companies I wanted to pitch to (and how to meet all of the companies I didn't even know about), and here they were. Or at least people who could help get me in touch with them.

"I imagine there must be similarities to how having children transforms your life! It’s no longer just a job, it becomes part of your identity. The responsibilities are enormous, the pressures overwhelming, you often feel like you’re getting everything wrong when everyone else seems to get by so easily - but you wouldn’t change it for the world.

"Everyone in the Enterprise team has believed in us and encouraged us, given us guidance and support. Looking back we had ideas and theories about how we might make this business work, but that support and belief (from people who had seen hundreds of businesses start up) gave us the courage to keep going in those early months when everything was terrifying and new, and we made all of the usual mistakes and assumptions. It would have been easy to give up, to feel like we were out of our depth and run away, but Laura, Jenny and Pippa introduced us to contacts, vouched for us to a potential client, built a start-up skills course that guided us through the myriad of obstacles and mountains and they listened, very patiently. They put opportunities in front of us. They found out that I was really getting into networking and continued to email me new groups and events. They welcomed us into the Enterprise Place family with a brilliant Christmas party and made us feel part of something awesome.

"The best part of running a business is listening to music throughout the day. No rush hour traffic. No Sunday night dread. Enjoying breakfast, watching 30 Rock and still being at my desk before 9am. Not having to work from 9-5. All of the fascinating new people you meet. The thrill of taking a risk when you believe it will pay off. The ping of my work emails. Building something new with your own wild and funky fingerprint on it. That's why we did it – we took that terrifying leap.

In the future I see Second Draft creating documentary films that help people see the world in a new light, which surprise and inspire and them and makes them understand and empathise with people around them!”