Small business: Embracing changing times

By Aimee Shaw

Method Studios managing director Sam Ramlu and creative director Euge Eastlake. Photo / Alicja Grocz
Method Studios managing director Sam Ramlu and creative director Euge Eastlake. Photo / Alicja Grocz

After 13 years in the digital business space and surviving the 2009 global financial crisis, Method Studio owners Sam Ramlu and Euge Eastlake know a thing or two about adapting to changing markets - and therefore changing times.

Managing director Sam Ramlu sheds some light on Method Studios.

What does your business do?

We're a digital agency with a new-tech focus. What that means is we work on online, interactive and digital projects, anything from websites and games to currently augmented and virtual reality.

What are the augmented and virtual reality projects Method Studios works on?

At the moment we have one virtual reality project that we launched last year for UniTec and that was really an integrated experience. With augmented reality we've got a couple of things we're working on at the moment, but I probably can't say too much as they are at the prototype stages.

Is the business owned by you and your partner?

Yes. I look after the strategy and client side, and manage the business, and my partner is the creative and technical director.

What gave you the idea for business?

We initially set up because we saw a real market opportunity for really experienced-based websites.

For us it has always been about making the online experience engaging and interactive.

At that point we had seen a lot of cookie-cutter websites and we wanted to make sure that people got the most out of their online experience. It is somewhere you spend a lot more time than you would in any traditional media so we saw real opportunities there.

As the industry has changed in the last 13 years, digitally, we have grown with it and always aim to be at the fore-front of the market.

Back then we were doing amazing experience-based Flash websites and then when mobile came in to play we moved along with that and when HTML was big and now this new virtual and augmented reality space.

Method Studios' team. Photo / Alicja Grocz
Method Studios' team. Photo / Alicja Grocz

Along the way we have always worked with new technologies, but not just tech for tech sake. We've made sure there's been an actual reason to have it and that there is value compositions for it as well... and that actually brings to life the product of the story we are trying to sell or push.

What big client names have you worked with?

A lot of the projects we have done have had the agency name against them.

We've done work for Intel, Microsoft, BayCorp, Harrison Grierson, Panuku Development Auckland which includes Wynyard Quarter, Bell Tea and Coffee Company, Unitec, Moccona, Honda, TVNZ, Dot Kiwi - a varied range of industries.

What are the biggest challenges you have faced?

I don't know if it is a challenge of sort, but one of things is keeping up with changing technologies.

One of the things for us was that we were really big on Flash websites so when Flash started dying off we had to change the way we worked and the people we had working with us because it meant a whole new skill base.

We found 2009 was really difficult for us with the Global Financial Crisis because we found that instead of people going in to digital and spending less money doing similar marketing, they did not want to take the risk with doing stuff online. In New Zealand specifically they were sticking to things they knew as they did not want to risk their dollars on something they were not sure about, so that was quite difficult for us.

What has been the best thing you've done?

The best thing we have done to date has been the work we have done for Heart Kids.

Euge and I are partners, life partners as well. We had our son a couple of years ago and he was born with a congenital heart defect, had to undergo open heart surgery - it was massive - but eight weeks after that Heart Kids were looking for an agency and we sort of put our hands up and said, 'look we'll help you out'.

We ended up being their agency for everything and last year we worked with them on their August Awareness month campaign (which is on again now) and did an amazing website for them which was first of all great for us to be able to give back and do something for a charity and it also allowed us to use our creative license a little bit.

A little bit of help along the way is only going to help grow your business.
Sam Ramlu

The site has kind of gone accolade after accolade. We won a few online awards last year, we were up for a Webby last year and we have just found out that we're up for a Best Award as well.

The work we have done through that and raising awareness for Heart Kids has probably been some of my proudest moments and our team's, just really proud of the work they did as well, sort of helping us because they know it is something close to our hearts.

What advice would you give to other small business operators?

I think getting the right team around you is important. We've had to wear a lot of hats so as quickly as you can you should try and expand your team, even if it's being a little bit smart about it.

Recently we offered some unpaid internships just to get people in and getting them working on stuff before they became full-timers.

It sounds really cliché but sometimes you have to spend a bit of money to get a little bit known out there. We've always been the type that has tried to do it all ourselves, but it can be really hard as a small business.

A little bit of help along the way is only going to help grow your business.

We did 12 years really hard and then thought 'well, we should actually be making the most of some of these opportunities and use them to our advantage.'

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 28 Feb 2017 03:34:03 Processing Time: 377ms