Often the best business ideas come from trying to overcome challenges that seem to have no existing commercial solution. This was the case with Shane Meehan, founder and partner of Newry's Media Lightbox.
“I was working in marketing at the time and the idea came from a problem we had in finding images and distributing them,” explains Shane.
His department had to send images on a continual basis to newspaper and magazine editors and others to produce marketing brochures and promote events.
But those images might have been retained by a photographer — who could be difficult to contact and who might have deleted photos that were now required. Alternatively, the images might be on the office computer, cds or stored by the designers — but finding the files was another difficulty.
Shane realised there were other difficulties, too. Sending editors high resolution images could take an age, might block the recipient's email box and frequently bounced because their file size was too large for the recipient's system. But sending low res images often led to requests to re-send them as high res.
The solution, realised Shane, was to set-up a web-based system on which all the images were stored and managed. When artwork was needed by a newspaper or magazine, the link to the file could be emailed, with the option of downloading the appropriate resolution. And the solution for his own business could work equally well as a service to an array of clients. Media Lightbox was consequently set-up to provide clients with a file storage and retrieval facility, designed by Shane, but organised by his partners — Anthony Kieran and Cecil Hetherington — who had the technical capacity to translate the ideas into practice.
The business only started operating three years ago, but now has six employees and customer numbers have risen exponentially since the website — Medialightbox.com — was launched last September.
Now Medialightbox.com has a solid base of clients in the marketing, PR, graphic design, photography, architecture and engineering sectors — the system can store any type of files including pdf, artwork and video. Key features include file approval, file history and secure access control. A personal client is charged £10 a month, a business client £60 a month and an ‘enterprise client' £180 a month — for which 25+ employees can access the system.
High profile clients have signed-up, including Cisco Systems and Comic Relief.
Vodafone is a client in order to protect its brand image — use of the system ensures all staff in all departments can only use the latest publicity material.
Nokia used Medialightbox.com for its worldwide launch of the Ovi store — its equivalent of iTunes. For Nokia, the use of a single website that stored all the files required by its marketing teams around the globe meant a much quicker and less labour-intensive process for contacting newspapers and magazines and reduced problems with the e-mail delivery of large media files.
With that initial success, the firm now expects to go a long way. “We want to be one of the biggest players in the storing and sharing of files online,” Shane explains. “We want to get 100,000 users by the end of next year.” It may sound like a grand ambition, but the firm has made a strong start in achieving it.
Click on www.smallbusinesscan.com to visit the network where small businesses and entrepreneurs are coming together .