An interview with Mella Carron - intern at VenueSearch
We first met you as an IADT student when you participated in the Student Enterprise Bootcamp at the Media Cube earlier this year. You went on to win the prize for the best pitch – could you tell us a little about the degree course that you chose, why you chose IADT and your business idea?
I am studying New Media Studies at IADT and am currently going into my final year. I am a mature student, and at that time, I was struggling to find the right course for me. I had previously studied Music Education in Trinity College. I knew I wanted to go into a course that was super creative. I came across New Media Studies by accident, but felt it was the right course for me instantly. New Media Studies offers a wide range of subjects from creating videos, writing scripts, journalism, podcasting and the music business. It is a very creative course and offers a wide range of job opportunities after graduation. I was so excited when I got accepted and I couldn’t be happier to be there. I choose IADT as it's very inclusive and supportive of the arts and creativity.
My business idea ParTea At Home was born during lockdown 2021 when I discovered a gap in the market. Mother’s Day was fast approaching, and I didn’t want Covid to ruin another special occasion. I organised my own afternoon tea party at home for my mother and sister. I decorated and transformed our family room into a beautiful space for an afternoon tea party. After posting photos online, I received enquiries wanting to know who I had hired to organize the event. This is when my business idea was born. I did some research and decided to stand out, I needed to go a step further. Not only by providing the food, but also delivering on creating the perfect space and atmosphere at home, which was not provided by any of my competition.
I concentrated on three areas. My competition, my unique selling point and my target market audience.
From my research, I had to concentrate on what my competition lacked in order to create my unique selling point. I could offer my clients something my competition was not. Simply – invite your guests into your home and let ParTea At Home do all the work. By lowering my price point and offering three different packages to choose from I was able to widen my target market audience. Also by providing the hardware, I am removing the hassle of cleaning up and decorating. I was able to identify my target market audience by carrying out a survey, word of mouth, and constructive feedback.
By providing an at-home service, delivered to your door, at a lower price point, and offering three various packages to choose from with all the hardware included, I am providing a new service to a younger demographic with a twist. My intention is to target hen parties, engagement showers, christenings and more and to hopefully franchise the business.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur? Did the IADT Student Enterprise Bootcamp assist you in developing your business idea?
From an early age, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. My father has always been very supportive - to go and try out new business ideas when possible. I really didn’t know what went into being an entrepreneur until I did the Student Enterprise Bootcamp, and from there, I gained a huge amount of information. At first, it was a little daunting, but I gained a huge amount of knowledge and took away key information to grow a successful business, such as knowing your customers, to accept feedback both positive and negative and if you really believe in your product, don’t give up. I was both delighted and surprised to be selected as a prizewinner on the final night of the Bootcamp.
You have started an internship with VenueSearch – what was it that engaged you with this particular start-up? Could you tell us about the aims of the company?
I first met Laura Byrne when she was assigned as my bootcamp mentor. I met Laura in person, and she was incredibly positive and supportive of ParTea At Home. We got into a discussion about VenueSearch, and after hearing the work they did, I was thrilled to have Laura as my mentor. She had mentioned a potential internship that would be coming up in the summer months. Once the bootcamp was finished, I reached out to Laura and enquired about the internship. After meeting with Laura and Matthew, I knew instantly, I wanted to be part of VenueSearch. I was really excited to be joining a start-up company, and knew I would gain an abundance of information from both Laura and Matthew. Every day is different and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working here. The aim of the company is connecting clients with the best possible venue for their event.
How did the pandemic affect you as a student/your business?
The pandemic didn’t particularly affect my studies. In a way, I found my concentration was better and found online learning fantastic. With the recording of lectures, it made it easier for myself, as I have a learning disability, to have the option to go back and find information in recorded lectures. I was able to have a better work/life balance and found I was enjoying my course more being online. It also gave me the confidence to do solo projects in college and to really run with my ideas without fear or judgement of others. However, when the pandemic was still here when I entered Third year, it was slightly more challenging. It was difficult to communicate with lecturers via email, and it was difficult to have relationships with friends on my course. I decided to run for Class Rep and that really helped with engaging with both lecturers and students. I am a person of high risk, so my social life was curtailed massively. I kept a very small circle. However, I took a lot of positives away from the pandemic. It taught me how accessible online learning is, to appreciate those closest to me and, it gave me the confidence to take risks. I don’t believe I would have run for class rep, or started a business, or be doing an internship, if the pandemic hadn’t happened.
What are the challenges facing the graduating class of 2023?
One of the challenges I believe our year will be facing is hands on experience. It has been difficult for myself and others to gain experience in camera work and editing for example. It also has been difficult to network and get internships. A lot of the internships that were available were only offering working remotely. I am thankfully in an office environment with VenueSearch.
What do you think the workforce/ businesses need to do in order to attract the best talent?
I really believe in paid internships. As a mature student, I am eager to work with companies that want to teach me and help me grow in the work force, but also a company that respects my time and efforts. I believe by offering graduates incentives and good opportunities to work with the company they will gain the best talent.
Have you any advice for the first year students arriving to IADT in September?
My advice going into first year in IADT is to have as much fun as possible. Mingle with as many students as possible, inside and outside your own course. Start building your network now. Go to classes, take notes and try stay on top of the workload. It’s a really great college and community to be a part of so try and enjoy it as much as you can.