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UCA graduates create impact with video startup success

This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week, a great time to showcase the commercial success of entrepreneurial UCA graduates - such as Roy Kimani and James Hakesley, co-founders of the video platform Nideo.

Entrepreneurism runs in Roy Kimani’s blood. The Product Design graduate grew up in Kenya surrounded by a family of business owners and pioneers, before heading to the UK to pursue a creative education when he was 18. “I never really considered having a job working for someone else - it just wasn’t an option for me,” he says.           

Roy Kimani, Product Design, UCA Rochester, 2011                                        

This conviction and confidence has been the driving force behind Nideo, which Roy co-founded with UCA Photography graduate James Hakesley, a year after graduating. “I’ve always liked freedom,” says Roy. “I’ve never really wanted anyone to tell me what to do with my own life - I like to make my own decisions, so setting up my own business was natural to me.”

Regularly involved in profitable ventures while studying at UCA, Roy and James provided a photography service to local nightclubs in the Rochester area, and also developed their first business, Fidgit Box – a video platform designed to help users develop new skills. They presented Fidgit Box at UCA’s Creative Challenge, an annual scheme giving our students the chance to attend workshops, develop business ideas and collaborate with industry, acting as a springboard for careers prior to graduation.

“UCA had the facilities and equipment you could leverage to start a small business – it was just a matter of spotting this opportunity,” said Roy. “In our case, it was the range of equipment in UCA's Photography department. We hired it out for free and used it for video and photography projects from nightclubs, small businesses and anything we could get paid to do.”

After graduating, the pair spotted a gap in the market for a video platform for businesses, and after attracting support from investors, Nideo was born. Nideo provides its unified video platform to businesses as an internal communications tool, and to others as a product to resell and package as their own. To date, Nideo has worked with over 500 businesses including Microsoft and Instacloud, and the platform has hosted more than 17,000 videos.

“When working closely with businesses, it became clear that there weren’t many platforms online for organisations to maximise the material we were creating for them,” says Roy. “They’d put videos on YouTube, but with the site being used so much more for entertainment now, it isn’t hugely valuable – businesses want to do more with their videos.”

As a Photography graduate, James brings imaging expertise to Nideo and runs the day-to-day business as the Chief Operating Officer. James has been instrumental in the administration and implementation of the online video infrastructure for the platform.

James Hakesley, Photography, UCA Rochester, 2011 

Now 26, and the company's CEO, it’s Roy’s adaptability and belief in his business that drives him as an entrepreneur. “When you’ve got a business concept, you’ll get critiqued and knocked down many times but you have to persevere and stick to it in order to succeed. You have to believe in your own idea, against all odds.”