Scandango is a family run business that offers a scanning service for shoe boxes of old photographs. It is run by brothers Julian and Adrian Rasburn and their mother Cathy Jessop.
Adrian (Ady) heads up the creative and web side of things. He is currently working in Cornwall, but has more than 10 years of experience working in London for companies including the BBC and Sony. A generalist, Ady studied for a Masters of Arts in 3D animation at the National Centre of Computer Animation, however he is primarily interested in and focused on web design.
Julian works in digital media and engagement for a UK bank and has more than 21 years of management experience, with 10 years in strategic communications.
Cathy keeps the Scandango boys in check. She has worked for more than 35 years in research; the last 28 of which have been focused exclusively on medical research (the good kind, not offering cigarettes to beagles).
The majority of this interview is with Ady, but with input from Julian and Cathy.
What are you working on right now?
We are still shaping Scandango; it is a never ending labor of love. It requires different amounts of input from each of us. As phase one of the site is now pretty much complete, Ady is now focusing on support material, HTML email newsletters, social media, offline marketing and advertising. Julian is researching the feasibility of scanning slides because we are planning to offer this service in the next few months.
Where did the idea for Scandango come from?
Julian came up with the idea for Scandango after our family lost some photos to a burst water pipe in the winter of 2010. Anybody who has scanned lots of photos on a household flatbed scanner, cropped the images and processed them knows how long it takes and how tedious it is. Scanning services are not a new idea, but Julian’s idea of basing it around a shoebox and making it as easy for customers as possible has proven very popular.
What does your typical day look like?
Whilst we are in the embryonic phase of our business, we are all working full-time at other jobs in addition to driving Scandango forward.
I am on contract down in Cornwall. I work 9:00 AM-5:00 PM, then come home, cook some food and work on either Scandango or my own web business into the early hours. Often with some classic UK comedy like Dad’s Army or Reginald Perrin on in the background for company. I don’t really have a routine, so nothing is typical and that is how I like it. I sleep little and drink lots of tea!
How do you bring ideas to life?
An old college teacher once said that you have to be able to justify everything you do in design; it isn’t enough to say, “I did that because it makes it look good.” I have tried to take heed of her words and adopt them across most aspects of my life; ideas are no exception. I have loads of ideas all the time. My brain works overtime coming up with them. I have to filter them and look for the good ones. I then try and rip them apart as best as I can and if they withstand that, I invite my friends and family to do the same. If there is an idea left at the end of such a gruelling process, then I try and pursue it with passion and high energy.
There are 3 main people behind Scandango. Ady is considered the creative one and the most disorganised. Julian and Cathy are insanely organised and they drive the business forward. It is a good dynamic. People often warn against working with your family, but we feel that if the bonds are strong and you are working with people you love, then there are no obstacles to your success.
Three trends that excite you?
- Ady: Blogging because there are some incredible people out there with genuinely interesting and helpful things to say. Blogs can be more helpful than the official support for a product or service, often because the people who write them are the people who use the product or service as opposed to the people who are paid to support it.
- Ady: Augmented reality, I both love and loathe it. At the moment, it is more loathe as it is often done badly. When it starts to catch up with the sci-fi implementation of it and we see more usable and useful AR, then there will be limitless possibilities for it.
- Ady: Clouds because you have fingertip access to your files from anywhere.
- Julian: Social media in business gives you the power to connect with customers in an age/profile savvy way.
- Julian: Solid-state drives (SSD’s), although it will be a while yet before the prices drop!
- Cathy: I am not up-to-date with the trends that the boys mention above, but any form of electronic communication is exciting for me. It allows me to stay in touch with people in both a personal and professional context, allows access to a wealth of knowledge and makes me realize how much I used my father as my dictionary and encyclopedia when I was growing up. Hi five to Poppa who was my inspiration!
What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked in a fish and chip restaurant on the East Coast. The place was filthy. I had to peel potatoes, gut fish and serve customers–all without being able to wash my hands. When I was asked to take the uneaten bread and butter from customers’ plates and place it back into the bread bin, I decided to stage an urgent family incident to affect an exit strategy.
I learned a few lessons from this job:
- The difference between cod and haddock: haddock has a black line down it’s side.
- Customers don’t like to see the inner workings of the things they are buying. This appears to be as true of websites as it is of fish.
- Avoid fish and chips from questionable establishments.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
For Scandango, I would have liked us to have planned for success. We had no idea it would take off as much as it did and we were caught on the back foot. It is true we are still in the soft launch phase, but we should have spent more time developing processes to handle international orders.
If the question is more open than that, I would still be involved in the web and design, but I would spend more time outdoors and see the world. It is too easy to get caught up in the world of work; every so often it is vital to switch off, unplug, walk away and immerse yourself in how amazing and beautiful the real world is.
What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?
Real face-to-face networking. Get out there and talk to real people, as many as you can and from as many diverse backgrounds as possible. People are fascinating, they have problems you may have solutions to or they may provide you with a solution to a problem that you would never have considered. Work, leads, ideas and inspiration can come from the most unlikely places. I was recently on a train and I was chatting with a retired professor who was on the board of a scientific engineering body. He asked me to look at a website his organization was having built. I provided him with some constructive feedback and we are now planning to meet up to discuss it further. He is a potential business lead and I had an enjoyable and intelligent conversation while on the train.
Social networking online is amazing, it really is, but I personally don’t feel it can ever replace a real one-on-one connection. We were approached by a company asking if we would like to put money behind a bar at a Twitter meetup so the attendees could have a drink on us. While this is networking, it does satisfy the criterion of a real connection and it may be a good approach for some companies, we felt it wasn’t right for us. We prefer to spend our money buying better equipment to improve our service and rely on our own networks and our satisfied customers to spread the word about us.
Tell us a secret…
I am dreadful with numbers. I dub my failing as “number lazy.” Fortunately, as the creative one I can largely leave the numbers for Scandango to my numbers-obsessed family. Technically, I am perfectly capable of processing numbers, but I just switch off if I am able to do so. As an example, in a restaurant when people sit around trying to work out how to split the bill, I just make a face like I’m concentrating on it and then sort of nod in agreement when someone works out the numbers. This pantomime generally works for me but I hate the fact that I do it, not least because I actually love numbers!
Now that I am trying to become a proficient programmer, I have a passion for numbers and my number laziness is really frustrating. I have been trying to force myself to practice maths whenever I get a chance. If nothing else, it is a workout for my brain and a big boost when I get things right and/or am able to learn a mnemonic for working something out.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Ady: Never take yourself too seriously. Business and work are serious; they need to be and it is good that they are. However, it is too easy to fall into the trap of believing that people will care about your business as much as you do. They don’t. It is vital that you keep a good sense of humor and have a sense of reality about what it is that you do.
Julian: It’s a stolen one and it’s not really an idea, but more of an observation. It is often reported that the difference between successful entrepreneurs and unsuccessful ones is the famous 10,000 hours. It takes 10,000 hours to make something work. I believe hypnotist Paul McKenna came up with this figure after studying the likes of Branson and Sugar. If it works for sports icons and high-flying businessmen, it can work for you. Beckham was not born a natural free kick legend, he worked at it.
Cathy: Remember people. You will meet a huge cross section of people as you conduct your business. Take time to find out about the person you are talking to.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Ady: I am a voracious reader, but I don’t really read business books. My interests are extremely varied and so I tend to read all sorts of books from Victorian economy to Neanderthal man. Everything fascinates me.
My recommendation would have to be The Healing Knife by George Sava. This is not a business, self-help or motivational book, yet I feel it does have a timeless relevance. It is a true account of a Russian nobleman who became a surgeon in the UK. The reason I believe this book is so important is because in spite of the unbelievable amount of hardship Sava experienced and his constant battles against unbelievable odds, he was always determined, driven to survive and ultimately succeeded.
Julian: My book is always Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It offers lessons on things that should be so obvious, but are not. A film that I swear by is The Pursuit of Happiness. It just proves if you want something, you can make it happen.
If you weren’t working on Scandango, what would you be doing?
Ady: I would be working on my own personal web business and/or trying to set up a few other businesses I would like to get moving on.
Cathy: I would be doing medical research. I enjoy its diversity and the people I meet each day. Just dropping in and out of their lives enriches me and my outlook.
Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
- @glinner: Graham Linehan is a comedy genius.
- @tedtalks: Clever people talking about clever things, perfect.
- @zee: I often find interesting articles and things from Zee.
When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Yesterday while watching IT Crowd, a comedy written by Graham Linehan. I have seen it many times, yet it always makes me laugh. I love watching comedy.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
I would love to see Rian Hughes interviewed on IdeaMensch. He is an amazing illustrator and I am a huge fan of his work.
I’d also like to see Shelter Box interviewed. They are a charity providing real relief for people in disaster/conflict areas. A fantastic idea and really well implemented.
Where do you see Scandango in 5 years time?
Still trading. I’d say “hopefully,” but I am confident we really will be if we keep this momentum going. I believe we will have expanded our offering to include slide scanning and possibly document scanning. I would hope that within 5 years we would be a truly international service. We are already operating overseas, although we have not fully sorted out our unique shipping needs–any suggestions are welcome! It is possible that we’d go global through franchises, as we have had an unprecedented amount of interest in this area.
What are your weaknesses?
Julian: Probably trying to be perfect. Every image is scanned by hand, despite the equipment being able to batch thousands at a time, which reduces the profitability of the business. Jobs are babysat. We need to get better at trusting the automation and looking at how we can shape and improve. Achieving perfection is not always possible. Look at the iPhone–you cannot bulk delete IMAP e-mails. Apple has it flagged all the time but they accept it and it’s not a KPI they measure.
Who would be your ideal guests at a dinner party?
I would invite Leonardo Da Vinci, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Leonard Rossiter. I was going to suggest making a lasagna but I think it would have to be ravioli for Leonard’s sake! (For the many, many people who will have no idea what I am talking about, do yourselves a favor and watch The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin).
We have not cut much of a dash in online social media at the moment, so we have that “just moved in” feel about our Twitter and Facebook pages. Please bear with us and check back soon, as we plan to explode into both arenas when we officially launch.