Aston MBA Inspires Social Impact Through Film Start-Up
Ravinol Chambers got his MBA from Aston Business School back in 2006. Since then his start-up business, Be Inspired Films, has been working with big-name brands for six years.
When Ravinol Chambers made his first film in East Africa back in 1995, he was inspired by the power it had to make a difference in the world.
He had been working on different social impact projects around the world for 20 years – including a second film in 2003 – and when he got back to the UK and finished an MBA at Aston Business School, entrepreneurship was a logical choice.
“I had seen the power films had to tell a story and make a difference, and I was just at the stage where I was ready to go out on my own and start my own business,” Ravinol said. “And it enabled me to express myself through what I do.”
He launched Be Inspired Films in 2007, a start-up that handles the production and direction of audio-visual materials for organisations seeking to promote what they do, demonstrate their impact and enhance their profile, and later a spin-off, Be Inspired Consulting.
The business works with big-name brands such as management consultancy firm Deloitte and consumer foods group Ben & Jerry’s. “We make films for people who are making a difference in the world, and that ranges from charities to social enterprises to big corporates,” Ravinol said.
“They use their resource of corporate social responsibility to help the communities they work in.”
And although he started his Aston MBA back in 2006, social responsibility is still a hot topic today. Many business schools are now educating their students on sustainability and since the financial crisis, more MBAs have been launching social enterprises.
Be Inspired Films is not just for companies with big budgets, however. “Even if people don’t have a big budgets, which a lot of organisations are struggling with, we still want to be able to help them tell their stories. Especially if those stories can make a difference,” said Ravinol.
He held his first video training course at Aston’s campus in Birmingham in September 2009, and since then the company has trained more than 5,000 people.
Ravinol previously worked in corporate roles, including sales, finance and business development for bigger companies, but chose the entrepreneurial track to make a difference in the world.
Aston prides itself on developing its’ MBAs for traditional careers – after all, nearly 90 per cent are employed within a few months of graduation – but entrepreneurship is an equally popular option.
“The benefit is that you’re in charge of your own business and are responsible for your own future,” Ravinol adds. “You can drive your passion and your belief. But it has its ups and downs; the other side of it is that you’ve got to motivate yourself. And no one’s there to do it for me.”
Ravinol did his MBA research project on venture philanthropy; a topic that is seemingly close to his heart. He has experience in the third sector and worked in various social impact projects in Uganda.
Motivation is something he may have to supply himself. But Aston gave him the skills to make his business a success in the UK – a region where one in three start-ups fail within their first three years of operations.
“My Aston MBA gave me a lot of confidence. And my research project got me credibility with my audience now,” he said. “I can go and have a conversation with anyone at a strategic level, and actually help them to move their business or their charity forward. And I think my experience at Aston gave me the confidence to do that.”
After over six years of success with Be Inspired Films, his next challenge is taking on big projects for some of the world’s biggest events. He was involved in a TEDx event at the Royal Albert Hall in London last year – “a really big deal for us” – but that is just the beginning.
“Next what we’d like to be doing is making films for the next Olympics or the next climate change conference world-wide – big stuff like that. And we’d like to get underneath the headline stories and into the people-in-the community stories,” he said.
An MBA has clearly given him many more strings to his bow. But entrepreneurs need to go into business with partners or a good team of advisors, Ravinol added. “[Entrepreneurship] can be exciting but it can be very lonely at times. It’s easier when u have someone else to bounce ideas off.”
To check out his business, visit: http://www.beinspiredfilms.co.uk/