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How the Hummingbird Group Teamed Up With International Partners For Top Growth

Bridget Scarr and business partner Graeme Carr of Hummingbird Group’s winning formula: Knowing your industry + Competitive edge + How to be flexible = International clientele.

Monique Verduyn

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Vital stats

  • Company: Hummingbird Group
  • Player: Bridget Scarr & Graeme Carr
  • Est: 2008
  • Turnover: R100 million
  • Contact: +27 (0)11 463 4099
  • Visit: www.hummingbirdgroup.net.

When it comes to the production of content, Bridget Scarr, MD of Hummingbird Group believes there’s strength in numbers.

Since she and business partner Graeme Carr launched their first company, Pollen, in 2008, they have taken the media, entertainment and technology group on a growth path that has involved several co-productions — joint film and television productions that are shared between two or more countries.

This has made it possible for Scarr and Carr to team up with foreign producers to pool their creative, artistic, technical and financial resources to co-produce lucrative international projects.

For Hummingbird’s international partners, South Africa offers the budget benefits of a rich diversity of locations, low production costs and a favourable exchange rate.

All about growth

Pollen, a design, animation, post-production and visual effects company, was launched with R100 000 seed capital and broke even in its first year.

In 2010, the two founders branched out and added three new companies to the group: Hey!Fever (content production), Apiary (digital development) and Hive (content licensing and management), all of which have been self-funded. The group is anticipating a turnover of more than R100 million this financial year.

“It made sense for us to create four separate companies within the group, each with their own management team,” says Scarr. “Doing too many things under one brand can be confusing. Clients understand your offering better when it is specialised.”

Where content meets technology

Scarr, who has a drama degree, but is entirely self-taught when it comes to entrepreneurship, focuses on the strategy and business development side of the group.

“Graeme is the creative genius who has all the digital now-how,” she says. “Our biggest differentiator is that we truly understand the intersection between content and technology.

We understand the business of film and television, and have the right creative and technical talent at our fingertips.

We are the people that people come to when they need problems solved, or when they have a ‘what if?’. We are excellent problem-solvers. We hire committed people who are passionate about what they do.

Also, we have a vision of where we are going, but we are flexible and not too precious, which is vital in our industry.”

A profitable future

Scarr says she and her team have an optimistic view of the content market in South Africa, despite the state of the national broadcaster. “In the digital and mobile spaces there is so much yet to be explored.

“As long as you trust your instincts, you won’t be disappointed. Our vision is to become the architects of the future of content, distribution and rights management for South Africa, Africa and beyond.”

Top tips

  • Understand local and international markets to know where your competitive edge lies
  • Don’t do too many things under one brand — clients are looking for specialists
  • Be a subject expert if you want to lead your industry
  • Understand when to be flexible — clients will come back for more if you accommodate them
  • Understand the value of being a problem-solver in your own business and that of your clients’.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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