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Graduates find business success and enlist the help of famous faces

Two young North East graduates are growing their new business with the help of a grant from their former university – and with the assistance of some of the UK’s top young comedians and a celebrity chef.

Matty Rayson and Luke Jones launched their own media production business, Fingers and Fringe, in April 2018 after both graduating from Broadcast Media Production at the University of Sunderland. They applied for a Futures Fund Graduate Development Scholarship, which offers financial support to Sunderland students up to one year after graduation.

The support of the Futures Fund proved game-changing for Matty and Luke, and since receiving their award they have gone on to produce work as diverse as promoting a gin with comedian Matt Reed, producing an advert that was broadcast on ITV, and a pilot TV show with celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott.

Luke Jones, 23, from Spennymoor, says: “The Futures Fund got us essential things to get the business started, such as a Mac and Adobe, as well as the money to go out and actually meet potential clients in London and Manchester.

“One of our projects was for a TV show pilot with Ainsley Harriott. Thanks to being able to attend meetings in London as a direct result of receiving the Futures Fund, we were able to secure this project and film it.

“We actually came up with the idea before the business even officially started. We emailed Ainsley Harriott’s manager, and they were up for it. We had a few meetings, and then got Ainsley up to Gosforth for a day’s filming. It was an amazing day – and we hope to be able to progress the idea later in the year.”

Matty Rayson, 22, from Newcastle, added: “From the start we thought, it’s got to be Ainsley. I was amazed when Luke called me and told me ‘Ainsley said yes, we’re going to London’.

“We used the money from the Futures Fund to get down to London to have that meeting, and thanks to that meeting we’ve now built a good relationship. We’re now discussing this project and other potential projects in the future.”

The idea for their businesses, Fingers and Fringe, came while they were both studying at Sunderland, and spending their spare time working on the University’s community radio station, Spark FM.

Matty says, “We came up with the idea of Fingers and Fringe when we were in the final year of our degree. I was working on Spark FM, and Luke wanted to be on air, so we started broadcasting together as Matty and Luke. We went on a ghost hunt at Jedburgh Castle Prison, and got absolutely nothing ghost-wise, but we realised we could work well together and come up with ideas.”

Matty, who was born with only six fingers, explains: “We were trying to find a good company name, and I said to Luke, I’ve got six fingers, you’re really obsessed with your fringe, let’s call it Fingers and Fringe.”

Luke added, “It’s been a really good name for us. We’ve met with senior people at the BBC and commissioning editors, and they always remember it.”

Matty agrees, “There’s always an elephant in the room when we walk in. We can see people are thinking “Are they going to mention it?” – then we do mention Luke’s fringe, and everything settles down.”

Luke believes that the support of the University’s Futures Fund was instrumental in getting Fingers and Fringe off the starting blocks.

“The funding allowed us to purchase the equipment we needed and travel to the meetings that then created further opportunities and in turn more revenue for the business. It gave us a fantastic and much needed boost that has given us projects that will take us not only through 2019, but also into 2020.

“It has been a fantastic start for Fingers & Fringe.”

Ashleigh Smith
Article by Ashleigh Smith
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