Growth & Jobs | Young entrepreneur creates his niche
This news article was originally published here
For those who do not know him, Severino Cunningham may seem like a stay-at-home dad. His typical day starts at 4:30a.m. when he assists his wife to get their three children ready for school. During breakfast, he makes social media posts for his clients, and upload content to the wider Internet on their behalf. He strives to leave home by 6:30a.m. to beat the brutal Montego Bay, St James traffic, to take his children to school and his wife to work.
Later in the morning, if he has no engagements, he returns home. He sits at his computer and works; in the afternoon he picks up his children from school. As they get home, he assists them with their homework, prepares dinner, they dine, and he puts them to bed, before returning to work until it’s his bedtime.
While that routine is typical in the life of a stay-at-home father; Cunningham is an entrepreneur who works from home. He is director of photography for his companies, SVCTV Media, a video recording: and the editing enterprise at Trapvova Visuals, which provides social media content for small businesses.
He points out that working in the creative industries allowed him to build on a talent he accidentally discovered while living and attending school in Mandeville.
“At Northern Caribbean University, I was involved with music,” he related. “I wanted to shoot a video for a song I wrote; however, there was no one in Mandeville who could do this. If you wanted to make a video for your song, you had to go to Kingston. My brother and I decided to use a small camera for photographs, which could do video recording. It took us two weeks to tape the song; and we loved the results,” related.
The success of this project led the former head boy of May Day High School in Manchester to volunteer his services to other artistes in Mandeville. It was not until one client paid him that he realised he could earn from his talent.
“After doing a project, one of the guys paid me $5,000. I was like ‘Wow! Someone decided to pay me $5,000 to shoot their video’; and we’re doing it for free.” From then, we did it as a hobby; and it was an opportunity to earn additional income,” he stated.
“Then I also realised that there was a need for such a skill; and after I moved to Montego Bay, I did a video shoot for $100,000. I saw that it was an area in which I could establish a niche; and I invested the money by purchasing a professional camera. Since then, I have learnt different techniques in terms of shooting videos; and it has increased my clientele based on feedback about my services,” he explained.
Four years ago, Cunningham resigned his job as an accountant to shoot videos full-time. He has no regrets about his decision and loves the challenge of being his own boss.
“It has been a challenge, but I love it,” he confessed. “Like any other business, you need to know what it takes to succeed. It is a space in which you get to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them. And, you get to work with a wide array of persons.”
“Working in the corporate world was good,” he added. “It taught me a lot, which has helped me to run my own operations. Working a nine-to-five is not bad; but it is more fulfilling being self-employed. I also took on the challenge because I had my degree to fall back on, if it did not work out,” he related.
Cunningham currently employs three persons. He has worked with artistes such as A.J. Brown and Munga Honorable. He has also shot videos for Caribbean World Tour Vacations, Tropical Tours, and a few other companies.
When he is not working or spending time with his family, he practises his video recording and editing skills with his new equipment, which he purchased recently with the assistance of JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL).
“I went to another financial institution seeking a loan and they recommended JNSBL,” he stated. “I visited the office and they explained the conditions. When I met the requirements, they told me that I qualified for the loan. I used it to invest in new equipment, and the relationship with JNSBL has been good so far,” he affirmed.
“I am hoping that our relationship continues to grow. And, I would encourage other young entrepreneurs seeking assistance to grow their business, to have a conversation with JNSBL because they are supportive of young entrepreneurs.”
Gillian Hyde, general manager, JNSBL, said the company was committed to aiding young entrepreneurs.
“Over the years, we have seen many young professionals who resign their jobs to become entrepreneurs. Many have been able to carve out a niche for themselves, which can only mean good things for our economy,” she said.
“Mr Cunningham is a perfect example of this trend, and we are proud that we were able to assist him. We are also confident that he will continue to do great things; and we wish him continued success.”
The father of three is constantly seeking ways to grow his operation; and he admits that one of the hindrances to achieving this, has been how Jamaicans view the creative industries.
“Many companies know that they need content, especially in this age of social media. However, some persons do not understand how it can be done, and the cost. They also do not have confidence and the belief that the creative industry can grow their business. However, when they see the results they become supportive,” he said.
At the same time, Cunningham is positive that his operations will continue to grow, as more companies see his work.
“I have not set a limit as to how far my business can reach,” he stated. “If I did, I would be short- changing myself.
“But, it is my hope that it will grow to the point where it becomes a global brand. It has been a learning experience so far; but I am in it for the long-term.”