Three years ago, Alan Grierson co-founded Bright Red Publishing, an Edinburgh based startup which creates educational resources for Scottish students and teachers.
The company is IPG Education Publisher of the Year for 2010 and 2011 and was nominated for Independent Publisher of the Year at this year’s Bookseller Industry Awards. In the first of our (irregular) series of 13 question interviews, Alan discusses the ‘wee gamble’ of setting up a new publishing company.
1. Why did you decide to set up Bright Red?
It’s something that I had thought about for a long time. A combination of events brought it to fruition: meeting three like-minded folk; and a bank that was prepared to lend the start-up funds.
2. What has been the key to your success?
Being bold and not being afraid to make mistakes.
3. What’s been the best moment so far?
Either selling our first book or winning the IPG Education Publisher of the year award.
4. If you could change any of the decisions you’ve made, what would you change?
I wouldn’t have chosen to start a company just before a global economic recession kicks in.
5. What’s your biggest strength? And your weakness?
It’s the same thing – being eternally optimistic!
6. How does running Bright Red compare to working for other publishing houses?
It’s much more enjoyable but is far less about publishing and way more about business.
7. How would your colleagues describe you?
A glass half full kind of a guy with a penchant for fancy shirts.
8. How do you stay motivated?
I’ve followed the Scotland football team for many years so I’m used to riding the rollercoaster of occasional glory and crushing disappointment.
9. We know lots of people who’d love to get some work experience with you, what do you think?
We regularly take people on work experience if they can exhibit a genuine desire to work in publishing. Simply saying that they love books and have a literature qualification just won’t cut it!
10. Where would you like to see Bright Red in 5 or 10 years time?
The biggest educational publishing company in Scotland with a cross-border presence and an international dimension (preferably close to a rum shack somewhere in the Caribbean).
11. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Are you wearing that shirt for a bet!
12. Could you tell us (confidentially of course :)) about the worst boss you’ve had?
Straight after school, I worked in a bank and my boss wasn’t keen on self-expression or independent spirit. I didn’t last too long!
13. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start up a publishing company?
Be prepared to throw away your security blanket. Also, make sure you have plenty of friends/contacts who trust you and are prepared to take a wee gamble.
—here, or follow them on Twitter (@_BrightRed).