After overcoming adversity to battle a drug addiction, David McCollom, 47, was in his final year studying for a degree in multimedia and sonic art at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) when he discovered Northern Lights, a business support service at UCLan. With the help of its mentors and facilities, David set up production company DMC Media and now provides multimedia services to clients across the UK.
David’s early life was challenging, with a difficult childhood and battles with substance abuse and addiction, resulting in lengthy stays in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics, with David eventually requiring amputation of his leg.
After completing a drug recovery programme at the Pierpoint rehabilitation centre in St Annes in 2002, David decided he wanted to turn his life around and so enrolled at UCLan, embarking on a degree in multimedia and sonic art. During his spare time, he would undertake freelance paid digital work, using his skills to create websites for friends’ businesses, as well as a film for the rehab centre where he overcame his addiction.
After graduating from UCLan in 2007, David realised his talent had potential to be developed into a business plan, but with no experience in building a business, he approached the Northern Lights team and proposed his idea for a production company, as David puts it, in Dragons’ Den style. Luckily for David, they were all ‘in.’
David immediately began making full use of the facilities at the state-of-the-art business incubation centre within the Media Factory at UCLan, using the boardroom to meet with clients, and loaning production equipment including cameras and computers to build up his portfolio. He also utilised networking opportunities provided by UCLan, attending seminars and networking events, making the most of being put in touch with useful industry contacts. David said: “I was able to meet a variety of people from the industry which wouldn’t be possible without the introduction from UCLan. It was vital in helping me make important contacts, while increasing my confidence and promoting my business.”
The whole team at Northern Lights provided great support, with David describing Lateef Badat and Julia Stickley as fundamental in contributing to his success. “I received a huge amount of guidance, Lateef was so helpful in providing feedback and helping me to shape my ideas in order to grow the business, while Julia’s expertise regarding the financial side was invaluable. I had all the necessary skills and ideas but needed help in bringing it altogether in a strategic way.”
BUSINESS IS BOOMING
Once David’s business DMC Media was established he worked from his home in Lancashire, eventually moving back to his hometown of Warrington. He works mainly in the North West but also travels around the country when required.
He’s had several high profile clients, from Jet2.com and Addaction, to Emerge energy drinks and the NHS, working with a team of subcontractors to produce corporate DVDs, short films, documentaries and educational features. He also teaches filmmaking as part of a recovery programme, having designed an AQA accredited creative film and media course which he delivers across the UK. He has also spoken at a Northern Lights networking event, Journey to Success, sharing his experiences and tips for other people wanting to achieve their goals in a talk called ‘Never Giving Up.’ Perseverance has been a constant theme throughout David’s life, and it’s what he attributes his success to.
“Had I not noticed the Northern Lights stand that day, I don’t know what I’d be doing with my life now. It helped me use my skills to develop a successful business, allowing me to do what I love every day. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to never give up, no matter what obstacles get in your way.”