Friday, 24 September 2021

Brothers put Henley into Hollywood

TUCKED away above an opticians in Henley’s Duke Street with only an overhead and wall sign

TUCKED away above an opticians in Henley’s Duke Street with only an overhead and wall sign to indicate its presence, you could easily miss the offices of Redberry Communictaions.

Yet this digital and web design agency has clients who are global giants, such as Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Working Title Films and the Marriott Hotels group.

After just 10 years in existence, the company has grown rapidly to achieve an annual turnover of  £1.2million and hopes to increase this to £5millon a year in the next five years.

Redberry was started in 2005 by brothers Tim and Simon Redgate and Piers Berry, who grew up together in the same street in Mansfield,  Nottinghamshire.

Their first office was on the first floor of Speaker’s House in Hart Street, when there were just the three of them and a web designer.

Two years later, they moved to  Station Road and then in 2011 to their present premises. Both moves were necessary due to growing staff numbers.

Now Redberry has 15 employees, split into creative, web and mobile development, commercial and project management teams.

The company’s work includes smartphone app creation, website development, online games and social media linked to the entertainment industry, especially films.

They also do streamlining workflows, e-commerce and customer engagement in the retail and leisure sectors.

The Redgate brothers began working together informally in 2003, when they produced the web designs to accompany the release of the  Thunderbirds movie for Working Title Films.

Tim, 39, recalls: “It was their first kids’ movie. We built games for the website and that ran across 12 languages and we got our next project off the back of that.”

Redberry’s first work was on Bridget Jones:: The Edge of Reason, for Universal Pictures.

“We started as web-based,” says Tim. “Back then it was about driving as much traffic as possible.

“Then over the years we moved into mobile design. Now it’s about social media, Twitter and Facebook and looking at conversations based on locations and what’s trending.”

Before starting Redberry, Simon, 43, who lives in Wokingham with his wife Lindsey and their children Oliver, 12, and Matilda, eight, worked for his father’s engineering company.

He says: “I came down from Mansfield to study in Wycombe. I wanted to manage bands and there was a course at Buckinghamshire New  University.

“I got close with one band getting signed but they didn’t make the cut.

“I started working for an aviation company making ejector seats in Denham before joining Tim at a company called E-Channels in the late Nineties. They were a video content provider for internet service providers.”

Tim commutes to the office from London every day. He lives in Harwell with his wife Laura, son Archie, nine, and daughter Daisy, six.

He says: “We have a very clear delineation between our two lives as brothers and as part of the business.”

Simon adds: “We spend time together away from work as well. When we’re with family we don’t talk about work and when we’re working we don’t talk about family.

“We have a level of trust that goes beyond most business partnerships. We know how each other works. As the business is evolving our roles are changing and we bring in people with expertise in different areas.

“We have taken on more staff and management becomes a bigger part of work.”

One of Redberry’s most successful projects was a live wallpaper released for Android to go with the release of Despicable Me 2.

The film went on to gross almost $1billion worldwide, while the wallpaper was downloaded more than  10 million times.

Simon says: “The app allowed people to personalise their wallpaper with Minions from the film. In development we enjoyed it because we were able to get very creative with it.”

Another project the company worked on was tied to the release of Jonny English Reborn.

They created the Jonny English Mobile Spy Kit for Android and Apple’s iOS operating system. Features included a voice disguiser, lie detector, intruder alarm and a night vision camera.

Part of working in the entertainment sector means Redberry staff get to attend premieres of the films they work on as well as being privy to storylines to help them develop their products.

Simon says: “We do occasionally get to go on the red carpet. We also get to hear about films early on in the process. We’re already working on projects for next year so we know what happens in those films. We need to know early so we can come up with ideas that are going to work.

“When we did the Night At The Museum app some of the team got to go to the premiere which was all across Regent Street. As part of it the Christmas lights were turned on. That was lots of fun.”

As well as their work helping to promote films, Redberry also works with clients in the leisure and retail industries.

Their redesign of the Waterstones website has seen them shortlisted for a Wirehive 100 Award in the e-commerce site of the year category.

The awards recognise digital agencies in the South-East but outside London.

Redberry also created a smartphone app to help Marriott Hotels to recruit staff.

Simon says: “They’re a big recruiter across Europe so creating the app was about streamlining the process and making their lives easier by using technology.”

So what about growing Redberry further?

Simon says: “We want to establish a steady flow of work from clients. Over the next decade the primary goal for the business is to produce our own products in the leisure and entertainment sectors. We’re looking to evolve from project, to project work to products.”

The brothers say that not being based in London is an advantage.

Tim says: “It allows us to take a step back and not follow the crowd or jump on any bandwagons. We can have a more creative view from where we are.

“When we say to clients we’re based in Henley they say ‘that must be nice’. It helps people to remember us and for us to stand out rather than being one of the masses of agencies in London. It’s a selling point.”

Simon adds: “There’s just something very creative about Henley. It’s an inspiring place to work and when you’re in the creative industry, you need that inspiration.”

The brothers have also found that when they are recruiting, potential employees are keen to escape from having to work in the capital.

Simon says: “Lots of people live out this way and it’s a common thread they don’t want to do a three- or four-hour commute anymore.”

Mr Berry, 43, who lives in Kidmore End, left the company in 2013 and set up the Pinion Watch Company, which sells bespoke watches made in Switzerland. His son Oscar still works for Redberry as a web developer.

More News:

POLL: Have your say