May 19, 2017

Silicon Republic interview CB Media Founder Cynthia Baloula

How do you start a successful production company from scratch? Silicon Republic spoke to Cynthia Baloula from Digital Hub based production company CB Media to gain some leadership insights from the world of video.

The interview covers how & why Cynthia started her own company, overcoming business challenges, how she gets the best out of her team and her thoughts on diversity in the STEM sector.

Describe your role and what you do?

I am head of business development, service delivery and strategy. I am responsible for ensuring that CB Media delivers as much value as possible to its clients, through the production of high-quality and impactful media that grabs attention. This involves: commercials, promotional videos, training videos, video animations, time-lapse videos, drone footage, event videos, video testimonials and branding videos. A typical day involves meeting clients or prospects, directing a shoot or progressing our quarterly action plan. My favourite part of the job is to get clients’ feedback and hear how impressed they are with the service we have delivered to them, or how much leads or revenue they secured thanks to the videos that we have produced for them.

What are the biggest challenges facing your business and how are you tackling them?

I have realised that I am the biggest challenge slowing down my business. CB Media has grown by 180pc from 2015 to 2016. We are forecasting a 50pc growth this year. It is a big deal for us. We work with all sizes of companies in all sectors and we have successfully secured blue-chip clients such as Accenture, Twitter, Cambridge University Press, the Wellington Eye Clinic and Calor Gas, to name but a few.

I know that I have the right team in place to deliver on the requirements of the business, but I have realised the hard way that I have built an owner-dependent business. This means that I haven’t been empowering my people enough to be responsible for their own part of the business, to take the decisions they think will enable us to move forward and implement them. I do listen to my team’s input and we do work very well as a team, but, in order for CB Media to grow further and the right way, it is essential for the business to be independent from me. I am now working on empowering the team and ensuring that we have the right systems, controls and accountability in place to make this happen. After that, I will probably go on a six month holiday without checking into the business.

What are the key industry opportunities you’re capitalising on?

We are capitalising on the construction industry as well as healthcare. Time-lapse video is a very popular trend in the construction world. It enables those companies to showcase their skills and expertise by having a video covering the entire duration of a build. This means that we would set up one or several cameras on a building site for up to 24 months, capture the build and produce a two to a three-minute video of the building coming to life. Those companies use those videos for their internal communication, but also to get more business. Training videos and 3D animations are also very popular in the healthcare industry, and we are working on capitalising on this opportunity.

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to effect change?

I do agree that there is a lack of diversity in STEM sectors. I think that diversity must start at the top. The culture of a company is defined and driven by its founders, so we need more female or minority founders in the STEM sectors. The school system should expose the population at a very young age to science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The curriculum should also teach students the required skills to become an entrepreneur. Students should leave college with the skills and knowledge on how to create a business and employ people.

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