When businesses talk about the importance of fast and reliable broadband, they usually focus on download speeds. But for the four-year-old London-based video production house Kinamo, which boasts clients such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Apple, Citizen and the RHS, it’s all about upload.
The internet is the lifeblood of Kinamo. “It is our delivery mechanism,” says co-founder Jake Powley. “I would rather someone switch off the heating than the internet.”
Kinamo’s business means that it is constantly having to upload videos for their clients to review – and upload again after each new round of editorial changes have been made. That’s gigabytes of video data each week.
“Our reaction time has to be really quick,” explains Kinamo’s other co-founder Phil Doherty.
So, when earlier this year the company moved into new premises, broadband was the issue that had to be addressed.
“We knew the internet connection was an issue,” recalls Powley, “but as soon as we switched our computers on, we knew that it had to be sorted out straightaway. Like, in minutes.”
The slow broadband in their new office forced Powley and Doherty to plan their days around ensuring uploads actually happened. “It was hideous,” Powley recalls.
But they had done their homework before moving in. Powley contacted Optimity, a local internet service provider who had what he describes as “the perfect solution.”
Its wireless link gave Kinamo with a dedicated connection that turned broadband hell into broadband heaven. “What had taken us eight hours to upload now took us ten minutes,” says Doherty.
And it got better. Optimity introduced Kinamo to the Connection Vouchers scheme – the government-funded scheme that provides small and medium-sized companies with the chance to upgrade from standard, slower connections to a superfast service with vouchers worth up to £3,000.
“It was a real surprise to us that this money was available,” says Powley. “We thought that there had to be a catch.
“As a business, we had not been in the habit of looking for funds. So we didn’t think of looking for a grant that was available for our very specific requirement. We’re a small company: why would there be Government funds for it? Yet there it was.
“It was an incredibly straightforward process. We received a quote from Optimity for the work and filled out the online form on the same day. We received a reply and a follow-up call in the same afternoon. Someone actually called me within two hours to check a couple of details – that was stunning. We then received a firm estimate from Optimity, forwarded this to BDUK and received our Connection Voucher on the same day. It took just three weeks from that initial quote to going live.
“A £3,000 voucher may not sound much but it was a really helpful sum of cash. It came at a time when we had invested in a company vehicle and in servers for our archive and backup systems, so it did take some financial pressure off.”
The guaranteed speed and security has given Doherty and Powley the platform from which to plan Kinamo’s development. There’s a strong flow of repeat business from an increasingly impressive roster of clients.
“This is a highly competitive business,” says Doherty. “We are making short films about complex subjects. You need to be very strong on all the technical and creative aspects. But at our core are the strong relationships that we build with our clients – and the service we provide them.”
At present, Kinamo has four full-time employees – a number that looks set to grow – and a network of specialist contractors.
“Video production is a business that relies on freelancers because it requires highly skilled people doing very specific work in short amounts of time,” explains Doherty. “You have to know how to work with these people and get the best out of them. If we are going to deliver consistent quality, we need consistent people.”
And, he might also add, consistent broadband.
Scheme now closed
The Government’s Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme ran from December 2013 until October 2015. From April 2015, the scheme was funded by a £40m Government challenge fund. This fund is now fully committed and the Scheme has closed to new applicants.