Formation Zone Helps Shield Media Spread Its Wings

When security and surveillance expert Jamie Haigh returned to his home city of Plymouth, he had an idea for a new business venture. With his two existing companies – Shield Operations and Shield Training – already well established, Jamie sought to adapt his knowledge of cameras and start a new enterprise.

Jamie Haigh, of Shield, with a drone in a field, with trees and clear sky in the background

When security and surveillance expert Jamie Haigh returned to his home city of Plymouth, he had an idea for a new business venture. With his two existing companies – Shield Operations and Shield Training – already well established, Jamie sought to adapt his knowledge of cameras and start a new enterprise.

Jamie set up Shield Media Services as a sole operator four years ago. The Plymouth business now employs a growing number of permanent staff and freelancers in its photography and videography team. With clients across the South West, Jamie is now planning to grow the business nationwide.

After returning to Plymouth, Jamie approached Formation Zone, where we offer space to start and grow a business, with his idea. He explains: “I went from working at home, where you’ve just got the idea and motivation, to being immersed in an atmosphere, where you’ve got all these forward-thinking entrepreneurs bouncing ideas off one another. Once we were at Formation Zone, the business took off very quickly and we were fortunate to stay there for three years.”

Jamie’s idea quickly developed and his growing company, which is now based at Plymouth Science Park, has enjoyed more rapid growth than his other businesses.

Jamie says: “When you join Formation Zone, it’s not just about getting a desk, a printer and a phone – and the very reasonable rates that everyone needs when they’re starting out. It is as much about the links it gives you into other businesses. Formation Zone gave me so many connections with other businesses and organisations and many of these are now paying off. Shield Media Services has enjoyed faster organic growth than my other businesses, with potential clients and customers keen to book our services.”

Shield Media Services offers ground and aerial videography and photography services, with plans to offer underwater filming and photography in the pipeline. The company is perhaps best known for its award-winning wedding photography business but has a diverse client base. In particular, Shield’s capacity for drone photography and videography is a key strand to the business. Jamie says: “We will continue to diversify our offer as new sectors keep discovering new uses for drone photography.

“As drone technology expands and the flight times and battery strengths improve and the capability improves, so do the opportunities. The potential client base continues to expand. Drone use for agriculture is really taking off now and we also carry out surveys for oil rigs and solar farms.

“It’s a case of keeping up with developments and I will keep driving us forward so we can tap into these new markets.”

Jokingly describing himself as a “reluctant Polar explorer,” Jamie has also been invited on a number of international research trips, with plans underway to photograph and film expeditions to South America, Africa and Antarctica. This has fuelled Jamie’s passion for environmental projects and the business is committed to undertaking pro rata work that supports this ethos.

With the University of Plymouth as one of his biggest clients, Jamie is now working with other higher education establishments across the South West. With Shield being an accredited BTEC Centre, he has plans to set up the UK’s first BTEC for Drone pilots. The company’s continued connections with the University has also supported its recruitment and most of Jamie’s employees are Plymouth graduates. With increasing demand for its services, Shield is planning to recruit further team members this year.

Jamie says: “Shield Media Services continues to grow very quickly. It’s partly because we’re offering something unique, partly because of the team we have in place and because of our ethos of demanding perfection.

“A lot of other businesses create a product or service and then try and sell it. My ethos, and one of the reasons I think we’ve done well, is that we’ve been aware of our skills and abilities and equipment, then looked into the market to identify what the needs and problems are before creating a bespoke product and remaining flexible to meet each client’s needs.

“The idea was always to build a strong foundation in the South West. We’re solid here and taking bookings three years in advance from clients up to Bristol and down into Cornwall. Now it’s about geographical expansion, offering the services we have across the country.”

Denise Kellham, Formation Zone Administrator, says: “Shield Media Services is a real success story and it is fantastic to see the speed of their success. Jamie really embraced what was on offer at Formation Zone and made the most of every opportunity. From the beginning, he had confidence in his idea, but was prepared to be flexible and think differently. He is an excellent role model for other start-ups and we are delighted that he is now able to share his experiences with new Formation Zone businesses.”

Formation Zone Operations Manager Richard Scutt adds: “Success stories like Shield Media’s are helping to attract exciting and ambitious new businesses to Formation Zone. This increasing demand has led to our expansion.

“With occupancy levels high in our Formation Zone on the University campus, we have now partnered with Plymouth Science Park to provide a new Formation Zone at the park. It has 27 desks in a shared environment and first-class facilities, including client meeting rooms, a collaboration zone, 3D printers, lightning-fast connectivity and much more.”

Jamie believes that, as the company grows, he will maintain a close relationship with the University and Formation Zone. He says: “I still turn to the Formation Zone team for help and advice and they’ve become genuine friends.

“It’s not a stretch to say I wouldn’t be here now without Formation Zone. I think my idea was solid, but immersing myself in that community and having the team there to talk to allowed me to see other opportunities. That wouldn’t have happened from a normal office space.

“Formation Zone was the first step to securing the contracts and service agreements I’ve got in place now and which have financed the expansion and diversification of the business.

“I would encourage new businesses starting up at Formation Zone that, if you’re prepared to be open to those opportunities, you’ll find yourself diversifying, expanding and growing in a lot of different directions. Having the University of Plymouth behind you is a stamp of quality and it definitely opens doors.”

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