Business

Start-up founded in bedroom in 2020 to expand after ‘rapid growth’

A fast-growing Bristol-based business started in its founder’s bedroom during the pandemic has surpassed six-figure revenue and is set to expand its workforce less than a year after its launch.

Marketing and creative agency Halt was established by Chris Cranshaw in October after the digital recruitment firm he previously worked for required him to relocate to London in order to continue in his role as a marketing director.

Opting to stay in Bristol instead, Mr Cranshaw noticed a gap in the market to provide marketing and social media content for start-up and SME recruitment businesses struggling to compete with more established recruitment brands without needing to invest in permanent staff.

Drawing on over 20 years of experience and a large network of contacts in the recruitment industry, Mr Cranshaw decided to set up Halt.

The company helps businesses – largely recruiters in the tech sector – to build their brands via social media, creating video, graphics and blog content.

After experiencing large demand for its services, Mr Cranshaw converted the back of his home in Hengrove into a larger studio to accommodate himself and the fledgling company’s first employee.

As Halt continued to take on clients, it soon outgrew this workspace and relocated to a new four-desk studio in Filwood Green Business Park in June.

The business has since upgraded to a larger space within the same business park, after growing its team of permanent staff of six designers, photographers, writers and social media executives, with three more to arrive in the coming weeks.

Mr Cranshaw said: “It’s all about recovery from the pandemic now. Companies are out to hire different types of talent and are struggling to fill skill gaps, so recruitment businesses are really needing to stand out, rather than doing the old tactics of advertising on job boards. Everything we produce is designed to make audiences stop on social media when they are scrolling through and then engaging with it.”

Commenting on the businesses’ rapid success, Mr Cranshaw said: “I pinch myself on a daily basis. If you had turned around and said to me on October 1 where we would be a year down the line I would have laughed you out of the room.

“This has not been a stroke of genius on my part, it’s just been about being in the right place at the right time, offering the services that are making a difference for businesses, solving problems for them.

“It’s all a bit of a whirlwind for me still. I’m delighted with the scale of the growth and we’ve got ambitious plans to grow the business even further.”

But Mr Cranshaw admits start-up life has not been easy.

He said: “You’re running around doing all the extra stuff behind the scenes , doing proposals, sales, you find yourself doing six to 20 hours a day. So that was one of the big drivers for us was to get to the studio, so we could have some sort of work-life balance.

“I hope that our story will inspire people but I wouldn’t want people to think they can just start a business tomorrow and do what we’ve done in six months; a lot of work that goes into it.

The company is now planning to expand its services into the commercial market, hospitality, and the third sector. Figures published by the Office for National Statistics in August showed the number of job vacancies in the UK hit one million for the first time, as the economy began to emerge from the pandemic.

Mr Cranshaw said: “What has happened in the pandemic is so many businesses have had to look within, change their strategy and approach, and realise they have to hire a new breed of talent; talent that doesn’t necessarily need to be micromanaged now. They can work remotely.”

He also believes Brexit has resulted in a “big drive” to recruit UK-based talent.

“Another big area is within supply chain, logistics, home delivery – that is a booming market,” he added.

“Everyone is buying online and having products delivered to their doors. The amount of money firms like Amazon have made in the last year is well documented.”

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