Getting the profits in. Due to the high demand for their services, the brothers recall a time when they made Shs1 million every day for a week.
Much as many youth would want to study and finish before they can look for what to do; these two brothers are not that kind.
Edgar Arinaitwe, 24, a graduate of Business Administration from Uganda Christian University (UCU) and his brother, Allan Tugume, 26, also a graduate of Procurement and Entrepreneurship from the same campus started their journey way before they joined campus.
When they started Events Guru Limited, a company specialising in photography, video coverage, documentaries, among other activities, they knew that comlpleting studies only to comb the streets for a job was not a good idea.
Before they settle down for this interview, Arinaitwe occasionally stops to take calls from clients making inquiries or booking the company’s services as Tugume attends to other clients at their office.
Arinaitwe then welcomes me to the studio, ushering me to a laid-back seat where we could have the interview.
Becoming independent got them started
Arinaitwe says becoming independent before his peers opened up his mind to business. He became independent in Senior Five when he left home to stay on his own.
“In Senior Four vacation, I did a small business where I bought salt from a neighbour and sold it at a profit. I saved that money and later used it to start a retail shop in Kasubi with the help of my brother Tugume. When I went back for A- level, I left the business in the hands of someone who mismanaged it. I had to sell it off,” Arinaitwe narrates.
Their parents, who did photography and hiring public address systems, indirectly became their teachers.
“Growing up in a family where both our parents were doing studio and public address system business in the early 90s helped me learn some basic skills in photography,” Arinaitwe says, adding: “I hang around my father and picked some skills until he passed on in 1998. I developed keen interest in cameras and a passion for photography.”
Armed with these skills, Arinaitwe was employed as a studio manager in one of the photography companies in Mukono, where Tugume was the general manager. The duo continued broadening their knowledge of photography, video coverage and editing where they acquired certificates.
In an interview with Prosper magazine, Arinaitwe and Tugume tell of how they started and later grew.
“The size of our company has also grown because we have equipment that can handle seven functions at ago. Each of these events can have a minimum of three professional cameras. This is a journey we have made from just one camera,” Arinaitwe says.
How they have managed to grow
Delivering work which satisfies the customers has seen them get recommendations from their clients to other prospective customers.
Additionally, paying attention to detail, being reliable, customer care, constant research and training of staff are the things that they have learnt over time and enabled them to grow.
Unlike other family businesses which collapse after a while, Arinaitwe shares their secret.
“Much as we started this as brothers, we never allow family issues to get into the business. We well know that photography is no longer for the failures in life as they referred to them then. We always keep everything professional. We have different departments and in each of them, we have employed professional people to handle the tasks as we supervise and market the company,” he explains.
Today, more people have an appreciation for good videography and photography.
“You may organise a function and have all the expensive things bought at it but the quality of videos and photos you have are the only ones that will live on. I am glad that the public is learning that and more people are paying attention to it,” he notes.
Even with such challenges, he can’t ignore the lighter side of his business. Arinaitwe tells of a time he made Shs1 million every day for a week in May 2012. This marked the turning point for the business and has motivated him to date.
He says on a good day, he can get more than five deals and some are willing to pay above Shs2 million for their services.
High and low seasons
Their peak seasons are usually in the months of January, August and December. The slowest season is before Easter usually in April and May.
Advice to youth
Arinaitwe says people have a tendency of postponing ideas. ”One should start a business as soon as one conceives an idea.”
He blames Ugandans for complaining about lack of jobs. He further blames young people who do not create jobs waiting to be employed. He says this is in addition to those who minimise the jobs they have.
“Other people yearn for huge earnings before they acquire skills.
Youth need to drop that mentality and make a humble beginning. No employer will give you a job of more than Shs1 million a month without being sure that you are productive. The skills to be productive are acquired through humble beginnings,” he says.
He further advises youth who intend to start businesses to join associations where they can share challenges in running business.
“I and a couple of my other fellow graduates, Austin Kilama, Julius Musinguzi, Owen Nahamya, and Dan Tumusiime my other brother owned small businesses then. We met once in a while to share ideas and help each other with finances and anything that helped us grow,” Arinaitwe says.
They also say, “Business needs concentration, commitment, and patience to reap from it.”
Money pumped in at start
With small savings they had made during their Senior Four and Six vacations which Arinaitwe got from the first job, they were able to raise Shs10 million. Of this amount, they bought a camera at Shs3 million and used the rest of the money to pay rent in their first months of the business.
Tugume says with additional borrowed money, they were able to establish their firm which started in Mukono Town before moving to Business Development Office in Kamwokya and later to their current premises on Shumuk building in the heart of Kampala City.
Although business at the beginning was slow, they patiently looked out for customers. Luckily, the opportunity presented itself with the UCU lawyers’ dinner in February 2012.
After the dinner, business started trickling in from weddings until late April when Events Guru made a leap.
They employ seven permanent staff and 30 temporary staff which they believe will grow as the company grows.
Future plans for media business
They say they want to expand their business to serve the whole of East Africa in the next five years. They are also planning to go into planning for people’s functions such as weddings. This is in addition to other services such as; filming and shooting documentaries.
They also plan to venture into television production next year.
Like many businesses face challenges; theirs is not free from them.
Arinaitwe says some clients are not honest.
“We always advise them to pay in installments before their functions, but some of them do not do so. But with time, we have come to see how to deal with it,” he explains. He also says some people wait until the day of the function to ask for coverage before they pay which he says disorganises them.
“To produce quality videos and photographs, we require good equipment, skilled manpower and enough time. All this needs planning but most clients do not look through it. Some always demand for their work before the agreed deadline,” he says.
They also face the challenge of the equipment being expensive, traveling to places where electricity is not available yet functions take longer than expected and having little time to rest.
“I am driven by the urge to succeed today and not tomorrow. After all, we can never be sure of what tomorrow will bring. Therefore, I celebrate every achievement and get inspired by the plans I have for the future,” he says.
Tugume says their business has grown because they are both driven by their love for photography and a passion to serve their clients through quality.
To them, time at work is more of leisure than business. “Training youth in video editing, photography and studio lighting gives us pleasure.”
Number of people they employ
Average amount of money they charge to shoot a video at an event
Amount of money they used to start the events business