Olivier and I went to a Business Gateway event in Aberdeen City Centre’s Gaming place Engage to hear AXIS Co-Founder and CEO Richard Scott talk about his experience of setting up a successful animation and visual effect studio working on projects including Halo, Assassin’s Creed and Sucker Punch – which we think are truly beautifully made- and many more.
First, we met with Alanna, an Information Officer from Business Gateway. Not only was she very excited to hear about what we did and the possible applications for Virtual Reality – always appreciate someone reflecting my enthusiasm – but also, she could provide us with key market research about Virtual Reality as often as we needed it, free of charge.
We found Richard to be very relatable. He told us how four computer and design geeks came together 18 years ago in Glasgow to create AXIS and candidly let us in on the good, the bad and the ugly of starting up, managing and growing a business and dealing with international clients. And the presentation really gave me a broader perspective on both our brand new business and my work experience so far. My big breakthrough was the point about patience: indeed, it takes time to build trust with your potential clients and discover what they are willing to pay for. That means getting yourself known and at the same time getting to know your market. For Richard, this meant a lot of travels and meetings over a span of two years. I was really grateful that he shared this information. It is easy to make things look effortless but pretty cool to be willing to share the realities so others can benefit.
“Be ambitious: Say Yes, work out how to do it later.” I absolutely love that one, and we learnt this formed the basis for some of AXIS’s most successful projects even if it created internal tensions at times. I think there is something very powerful about recognizing that you have unlimited potential.
In hard times, don’t cut on equipment -very relevant in our line of work- or creative people and endeavours, because these are essential investments that more than pay for themselves in the middle and long run. Business growth, staying one step ahead of competitors, staff morale, it all depends on this. AXIS had one particularly bad year in 2005 where they experienced this first-hand.
Olivier particularly liked the advice of creating a dream board. Richard thinks writing down your goals acts as a compass for your brain and makes them more likely to manifest.
At the end of the presentation, we introduced ourselves to Richard and I thanked him for sharing his tips with us (there were many more, this is not exhaustive). We really appreciated how nice and approachable he was. We talked about how cool it would be if we could realise our ambition of applying Augmented Reality to Scotland, allowing people to time travel in the streets of Aberdeen or Elgin – like the Paris Then and Now app, witnessing buildings, landscape as they used to be and people as they went about their day 100 years ago.
We were both happy with the prospects we discussed and the people we met, but most valuable of all for me was the feeling that we were on the right track and the fact that it helped me and Olivier see the bigger picture.