Cross Creative – Interview

Stu Thomson

Stu was part of the Cross Creative 2017/18 programme.

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Stu Thomson is founder and director of Cut Media, a Glasgow-based company producing content for global brands. Five months on from completing Cross Creative, we caught up with Stu to chat collaboration, international work and gaining a non-exec director on the back of the programme.

“Cut Media is a creative content agency – one part creative agency, one part production company. We create video, film, animation and photography content campaigns for brands all over the world and are specialists in working with athletes and performers. We’ve grown to a team of nine, working with advertising agencies, but more so direct to brand, which is about 70% of our work. We’ve got some big headline clients – Adidas, Red Bull and a lot of big cycling brands, which is where our foundations lie.”

Why Cross Creative?

“It’s a cliché, but ‘every day is a school day’, and you get to a point where you think ‘I’ve got a company of nine people, with international clients and a substantial turnover, which is a position I’ve never been in before, so for me it was a lot about meeting peers who were going through the same experience.”

Building a Scottish Support Network

“I always feel like Cut Media has grown in a bit of a bubble in Scotland. A good example of this was when I started the Cross Creative programme and Charlie [from Whitespace] was the only one who was aware of us as a company. We were doing this big global work, with millions of people seeing our content, and yet so few people in Scotland and in the Scottish creative sector were aware of our existence. We’ve collaborated with others in the cohort since the programme and been referred work by the other delegates, which has been great.”

Lessons from Canada

“The trip was obviously a very appealing aspect of the programme for me – gathering information from these amazing companies. In Canada we visited TFO, a French language broadcaster, which was incredible. They were breaking new ground with technology, and it was something you could really see yourself bringing back here. I just kept thinking ‘how could I use this with our clients?’

A big learning from Canada was about collaboration, which is something that we really champion at Cut Media, so it was a reassurance that we’re doing things right. We’re very collaborative as a company and have kind of broken down the traditional production barriers – we’re more of a creative agency model delivering video production. A big part of the learning from the trip was to keep this model, and really fight to retain it as the company grows.”

Next Steps

“Our growth has been organic and steady – we’ve arrived here by creating really good work and we don’t want to lose that for the sake of scaling-up. But we’re very busy- we’re hiring three more people in the next couple of months.

Through Cross Creative, Cut Media gained a non-exec director. One of the course contributors was Alasdair Gunn, who I met for a coffee after the programme. We chatted about the business and I bounced ideas off him – he’s a brilliant guy. This was one of the main aspects of Cross Creative for me – having people outwith the business to talk to. It’s something I’ve never had before, apart from with my dad who is self-employed. Alasdair introduced me to Lawrence Weber, who is the Managing Partner of Karmarama- a massive London-based creative agency. [editor’s note: Laurence has since become Partner at creative consultancy Curve.] I had a call with Laurence and we met in London, decided to keep in touch and six months down the line we decided to work together. He’s now a non-exec director of the company. Laurence has been helping a lot with the new business in London and our strategy, and we’re looking at our USP – we know we do great work, but how do we compete with all the London companies? I’m flattered that Laurence wanted to be a non-exec director, meaning he recognises our potential. Expansion is definitely on the horizons, it’s just working out the best way to progress.”

Time out of the office to focus on the business

“I’ve been in a position that I think so many company directors find themselves in – really busy with the day to day – but it’s so valuable to take that time out. My staff really saw the benefit of me doing the course and scheduling that time out of the office. I think Cross Creative is part of a movement of really stepping back to consider the bigger picture. Overall, it was an insightful, fun and incredibly valuable experience. The course has given me education and enabled clarity and drive for future goals for the business.”

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Cross Creative is an original training concept by TRC.

Cross Creative is funded by our partners BBC Nations and Regions, Channel 4, Scottish Enterprise & Screen Scotland. There is a company fee of £500.