for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
at Davidson College

for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
at Davidson College

Alum Co-Working Startup

Ben Allison & Benco Productions

Last week, I sat down with Ben Allison who graduated from Davidson in 2011 after being recruited by Coach Bob McKillop to play basketball from 2007 – 2011. Allison is originally from the UK and completed one year of University before coming to Davidson. Allison and I talked about how his Davidson education has influenced him today, what he does on a daily basis with his film company Benco Productions, and what it’s like doing his line of work in a space like the Hurt Hub.

What was life like before Benco?

Ben worked in advertising right after his graduation in 2011 with the American City Business Journal’s digital revenue team, helping sales reps around the country sell advertisements against online content. “Advertising in general has a lot of ties to persuasion,” Allison says, which links into his major. Sitting behind a desk wasn’t necessarily right up Allison’s alley, so he left the US and headed to Spain and the UK to play professional basketball for a few years. From there, Allison worked in London with a headhunting firm in the financial services, marketing, and business development teams. So far, Allison has been pretty separate from the world of advertising, until he started to work for a film company in London. With so many different platforms, tools, and creative styles, Allison was closer than ever before to the creative side of advertising and marketing. This lead him to being on sets and shoots, learning what it takes to create the videos, with sound, production, direction, etc. This experience allowed Allison to hone his skills as a producer and fostered a true passion and interest in video advertising.

All About Benco

“Our mission is to inspire and empower people to find a voice for their own creativity. We hold space, valuing all ideas while encouraging our team of creators to produce imaginative, trend-setting work for clients globally.”

Benco Productions is a video production company specializing in video production and advertising. Benco has three main areas of work:

  1. Working with clients on pre-production work, brainstorming, storyboarding, and working on the client’s brand.
  2. Production involves working on the actual filmmaking process, hiring a crew, actors, directors, and more.
  3. Finally, Benco works on the post-production end with editing, sound design, color variation, and anything else a client may need or want.

One of the most significant aspects of Benco is its flexibility in working with clients. From big New York agencies to more local Charlotte businesses, Allison is able to mold and shift Benco’s services based on what his clients need. This means pretty much anything is possible with Benco, as long as the funds are there.

What is Allison’s role in the company?

Right now, Allison’s role acts as a producer – brainstorming ideas, contracting positions, managing ideas, etc. Allison hires contracted positions for shooting days and post-production work to be able to produce the final deliverable, which can be a 30-second video advertisement to 10 spotlight videos.

How did you acquire these skills?

“That’s a tough question because, for some people, it makes sense to go to grad school or pursue higher education after Davidson,” says Allison, “but I’m a learning-by-doing person.” Allison’s six years of experience before Benco allowed him to really observe what worked and didn’t work in the marketing and advertising field. From watching how different teams work together, observing a corporate office, watching time-management skills, and just really seeing how things are done. As for the technical skills: cinematography, operating a camera, setting up lighting, that’s something that can’t be taught in a normal classroom – maybe film school, but according to Allison, these skills are best fostered on the job and jumping straight in.

How does the Hurt Hub factor into your business model?

Benco has been at the Hurt Hub for almost a year now and up until now, Benco has technically been freelance. Allison is looking to bring in a team, full-time and part-time, to have them in-house instead of contracting the same people week in and week out. Being able to host a team in this space and have a central location will be essential to Benco’s function.

“I go to most of the events here and the happy hours. And I hear the word networking and it’s not about networking or forcibly meeting people or doing business, but it really is just hanging out. And that has developed into working relationships with other companies here. Just developing real relationships and connections with these people and then seeing if it makes sense to work together.”

The Hurt Hub serves many functions in Allison’s work life. First, just having a space where he can interact with others or grab a coffee, makes independent work feel more communal. Second, the physical space of the Hurt Hub is “just beautiful,” says Allison. From secluded corners to really get stuff done to bright windows, the variety of workspace is ideal. Finally, using the Hurt Hub as a meeting space for clients that is affordable and communal is huge for client-facing meetings.

We worked with Benco Productions to create our first official video advertisement. Check it out here!

Final Advice

“For anyone’s college experience, the college has a million different things to offer. Whether it’s a different society whether it’s a fraternity. Whatever it is you’re passionate about, do it 100% and really capitalize on what they have to offer. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be academics – if it’s the film society and you see a future in it, do it 100%.”

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