Samantha Hodges and Esta Lissimore
Green Light Events
Company name: Green Light Events Ltd
Founders: Samantha Hodges and Esta Lissimore
Based: Cheltenham Spa
Staff Numbers: 2
Date started: 21.12.2006
Tell us what your business does
We are an event management company specialising in sustainable events. We handle corporate and public events including exhibitions, conferences, roadshows, award ceremonies, product launches and seminars.
We aim to make our events as eco-friendly as possible by sourcing ‘green’ venues which are easily accessible, using email and web publicity as much as possible, sourcing recycled materials, recycling waste after an event, reusing elements and we’re also looking into wind and solar power where appropriate.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Our idea came from a mutual passion for all things green. We both feel very strongly about how individuals should make lifestyle changes in order to help combat climate change and wanted to get more involved in encouraging this in the corporate world given the huge impact that businesses have on the environment.
How did you know there was a market for it?
There was a distinct gap in the market in terms of environmentally friendly event management companies, with only a handful working nationally in the UK. This kind of service is especially rare in our local area, so we saw it as a sound commercial opportunity!
What were you doing before starting up?
We originally met at college where we both studied media publishing. We then both went on to degree studies in media and business respectively.
Prior to us setting up the business, Esta worked in publishing for a few years before starting her career in event management. I worked in design account management for seven years for various clients such as government bodies, charities and large brand owners.
We initially discussed the business back in September 2006, amazingly from this brief, almost throw away idea, we somehow got to the stage where we were both leaving our jobs in December! It all happened so quickly and was probably the scariest thing either of us have ever done, but it definitely felt like the right choice!
What planning did you do before you started up?
Our first step was lots of reading! We really didn’t know where to start but we knew we had the ideas and all we wanted to do was get going! We bought a few business start-up books and set about creating a business plan and estimating various costs for profit and loss forecasts. We then went to see Business Link and signed up a workshop with a couple of other start-ups. Our next step was to see an accountant and we also took our business plan to him, he was very good and gave us some great free advice about how to approach banks and other investors.
How have you promoted your business?
We have promoted ourselves via telesales, pr and by having a good website. It’s worth investing in a good online presence because these days this is the first people see of you. Telesales is soul destroying and you have to be pretty thick-skinned but the more people you call, the more chances you’ll have. The problem with starting out in event management is that the majority of business historically comes from word of mouth and referrals. So we really needed to get our first events underway in order to get the word out!