Juston Prisuda started AV24/7 more than a decade ago, and has enjoyed a long string of successful projects with clients including NAB, Vodafone and Samsung. The company is turning over about $1.5 million
Prisuda spoke to SmartCompany about the nature of the AV business, which is beginning to see older players die out and newer, more innovative companies take their place.
My family has been involved in this industry for a while. Growing up I was always around the technology and that environment, so it’s funny how you gravitate to things that are familiar.
Even though I studied, I gravitated back to this. Partially because of the flexibility and freedom it offers. If you go to an office environment, you’re stuck with boundaries. With this you have more freedom to do things you find interesting.
When we started, the industry was dominated by older, established companies. But because of their size and age, lacked flexibility. We came into the industry at a good time, because these businesses couldn’t respond to stuff quickly, like shifts in tech.
I think if we tried to enter the market now, it would be a lot harder.
We’re all selling the same rough goods. You can’t differentiate on nuts and bolts, the only place you can is service and your creativity. If you’re trying to compete on the product then you’ve got nothing to differentiate from anyone.
Other companies were offering a technical solution, but we were trying to bring some more creativity as a point of difference.
There have been a lot of changes in the industry. A lot of work has gone away this year. We used to do a fair bit of work at larger events, and some have vanished altogether. Companies have money now but are still wary about spending it.
Before the GFC, corporates were going nuts. There was a lot of work and a lot of money flying around, and I suppose it made people complacent. Now, things are turning, everyone is spending a little more.
Business is still picking up, but companies are just more aware of how they’re spending their money.
Finding new work is much harder than hanging on to established clients. It’s important you don’t take those smaller clients, because that’s how you build that momentum.
From the beginning, I knew where my weaknesses lied. I’ve kind of let go of stuff I’m not good at, and as the scale of the company has increased, it’s important to find the people who share the same values as the company.
I think there are a bunch of companies in our industry that are in limbo. You need to keep pushing forward, regardless of the industry performance, and you need to keep innovating with your products.
But decisions can’t always be driven by money. You can’t look at a project and just think: “We’re not going to make anything on this.” You may just have to look at the project in a different way.
We’ve gone through a growth period. But when you enter that period, it’s a little uncomfortable. We’ve come out of that, so we need to start pushing forward again – our plan is to start setting up more permanent offices in Melbourne and perhaps the Gold Coast.
The next stage of our business will be both a huge challenge, but a good opportunity.