Interview: Ed Hollands, winner of BBC Dragons' Den

DrivenMedia, is a business that turns commercial trailers travelling up and down the country or overseas into mobile billboards for brands, organisations and businesses; visible, flexible and colourful marketing opportunities for advertisers across the UK, Europe and overseas.

It’s the brainchild of 23 year old ex Derby university student, Ed Hollands.

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We caught up with him, just after he’d appeared on BBC’s Dragons’ Den.

“I started it after a light bulb moment along the A38 in Derby. I’d just dropped my girlfriend off work and was on my way home in a bit of a daydream when I spotted a major roundabout with traffic lights, loads of lorries and cars backedup waiting for the lights to change. It struck me that it would be a perfect opportunity for a business to advertise – a captive audience for a period of minutes.

Then, I said to myself that’s not such a stupid idea after all!

“The next day I sat on the A38 taking truck names and numbers and the day after that I rang them all up and got some on board, then I started phoning brands to see if they’d be interested in advertising in this way.

“I’ve come across loads of obstacles, Lack of experience in the industry was the main one, I had no idea how it worked. It took a good six months to work out and I am still learning now.

“Every sector has its processes and routes to market – and you have to learn about that very quickly.

“It’s important to take advice from mentors or from people you trust who know more about business – or your relevant sector – than you do. Pick your mentors wisely.

Ed Hollands.jpg

"Pick your mentors wisely."

“The hardest thing I have to do is the selling, by far. I think it’s the possibility of rejection every time you pick up the phone. But, in advertising, having great contacts is key and I have to build those contacts the hard way – by cold calling.

“Being told it would never work by one of the largest media agencies in the UK – that sort of thing knocks you back. But, I’m overcoming this by doing things differently – by going directly to brands rather than through their agency and proving that company wrong, this approach seems to be working.

“The best part of what I do is seeing a campaign launch after months of hard work – there is no better feeling! Also a customer telling you how well their campaign is doing – this fills me with pride because I’ve made that happen.”

In February this year, Ed successfully appeared and pitched on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den. Entrepreneur, Jenny Campbell decided to invest in him.

“The hardest thing I have to do is the selling, by far. I think it’s the possibility of rejection every time you pick up the phone. But, in advertising, having great contacts is key and I have to build those contacts the hard way – by cold calling.

“Being told it would never work by one of the largest media agencies in the UK – that sort of thing knocks you back. But, I’m overcoming this by doing things differently – by going directly to brands rather than through their agency and proving that company wrong, this approach seems to be working.

“The best part of what I do is seeing a campaign launch after months of hard work – there is no better feeling! Also a customer telling you how well their campaign is doing – this fills me with pride because I’ve made that happen.”

In February this year, Ed successfully appeared and pitched on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den. Entrepreneur, Jenny Campbell decided to invest in him.

Dragon's Den.jpg

“I was just over the moon, it was a dream come true." 

“I was just over the moon, it was a dream come true. Afterwards, you’re taken to a room on your own. I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t stand-up and I wasn’t allowed to ring anyone. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“Jenny’s investment is brilliant, but you can’t buy the contacts that she has. I gotthe best of both worlds. I got the £30k investment and I got a dragon who can spread the word about what DrivenMedia can do.

“There have been some funny moments too, aside from being called 14 years old by Peter Jones in Dragons’ Den, I walked into a haulier’s office for an 8am meeting and the boss met me and said; “Is your dad coming too?”

“He didn’t believe I ran and founded the business. He had to ring the office number to make sure nobody else picked up. Safe to say that meeting didn’t go terribly well.” 

 
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"The idea doesn’t have to be perfect; there is no harm in trying something."

 
 

We asked Ed for some insider advice:

What advice would you offer to anyone starting on a similar path?

Speak to potential customers first, find out what they want and then work out how to deliver it. Trust me you’ll build what they want - not what you think they want, it solves so many headaches!

Get an industry related mentor and get your head around how the industry works.

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

The idea doesn’t have to be perfect; there is no harm in trying something.

What are your hopes for the future?

To grow DrivenMedia across Europe and to create a DrivenGroup of companies.

 

 

University, CareersWeb editor