Inside Track: Matthew Toman of Bankhouse Productions – ‘my company is priceless to me’
‘I got caught out at the top end of the recession and ended up losing everything’
Matthew Toman: “If you haven’t got a mentor and you think you don’t need one, you’re missing a massive trick”
Bankhouse Productions is a Dublin-based production company created by Matthew Toman. Named after his humble abode, from where he built the company up after being on the dole, his early learnings have taught him more than a few things about running a successful business.
What distinguishes you company from your competitors? I think it’s our customer service. We are young, ambitious and hungry for it. We just have a really fresh attitude to get the work done at a really high standard and not rip people off. We go far beyond the call of duty at all times. There is no end time to the day.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to face? Probably the biggest thing is cash flow but that’s normal for any company – having to wait 60 days on clients paying you when you are in the first two years of business and your cash flow isn’t massive. We overcame it by keeping communication lines open. There have been no major difficulties. Everybody gets on very well, everyone works very hard and there is no drama.
What is you major success to date? We’ve had the opportunity to work on campaigns with Seat, Orla Kiely, Pygmalion and the GAA. Winning most innovative business of 2015 was quite a big achievement and our feature film South premiered at Galway Film Fleadh.
What could the Government do to help SMEs? The Government does a lot for SMEs, the only problem is people don’t know about it. They will soon enough because we are doing work with Dublin City Council. We have done seven testimonial videos that are being released and are being filtered out across all social media platforms. They are profile pieces on businesses – some businesses got grants, some mentorship, and some got on courses start your own business.
Do you think that the banks are open for business? I’m not 100 per cent sure because I don’t deal with them on that level, I don’t plan on ever having a loan again. When I was 19, I got a mortgage for a house and when I was 23 I bought another house and then another. I had access to a scandalous amount of money in the North before the boom. I took out a £30,000 loan once because I was investing in a business. I paid everything off but sometimes the strain of it and the stress of it was a bit overwhelming so now everything is in credit with me. I have a credit card with €1,000 limit on it and that’s because I need car rental in LA.
What is the biggest mistake you have made in business? I got too big too young, I got caught out at the top end of the recession and when everything crashed, I had properties and I had various different business investments and felt the domino effect like the rest of the world. I just ended up losing everything that had built up since I was 19 and ended up on the dole. It was probably the best thing that happened. What I learned was understanding the value of everything that you have, the value of money.
Whom do you admire in business and why? Richard Branson. I love what he does, his laid-back attitude, how he approaches things and how he deals with people. In Ireland, I look up to Element Pictures. They are really good. They’ve done really well with their movies. They did a really good job with Oscar-nominated Room. Ed Guiney is really someone to look up to and really that’s where you want to be.
What is the best piece of advice you have received? It was from my mentor Conor McCarthy – make sure your foundations are solid. If you build up your business and your foundations aren’t solid, you can’t go back and fix them. If you haven’t got a mentor and you think you don’t need one, you’re missing a massive trick, Richard Branson has a mentor and he’s now a billionaire.
How do you see the short-term future for your business? To start to build steadily and grow the way we have been. We are working on putting Therapie Clinic’s TV ads together and working with Dublin City Council and we will put a package together for other counties on the back of that.
What is your business worth and would you sell it? I don’t know what the company is worth but at the minute it’s priceless. I wouldn’t sell it because it’s dear to me. Ask me in five years when I know what I’m doing with it; then it will be on the market.