At just 25 years old, Russell Meakin has built a hugely successful Ibiza website from his home in Guernsey. Now that achievement is being recognised. Having won the Young Business Group’s Bill Green Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit in 2014, this month he will find out whether he’s been successful at the island’s Awards for Achievement.
The young Guernseyman has been shortlisted for both the Healthspan Excellence in Marketing Award and the BWCI Innovation Award. The recognition is testament to his success with his IBZ.TV brand, an information website that provides a comprehensive guide to clubbing in Ibiza.
Russell was inspired to start the website when he visited the Balearic island in 2010. When he looked online to learn which parties and DJs were scheduled for his visit, he found out-dated and limited information. He saw an opportunity, and it’s one he’s made the most of.
“It started out as a bit of a hobby. I wanted to create a site where everything was current, and it was constantly added to with new content as events were confirmed. It just kept growing, until about eighteen months ago it got to the stage where I had to make the decision to take a leap of faith and concentrate wholly on the website.”
Giving up a full-time job that he enjoyed was a difficult decision for Russell to make, but it’s one that proved to be absolutely right for him. “Looking back now it’s the best decision I ever made. At the time it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but I thought that if I didn’t try to give this my best shot then I would always regret it.”
Luckily Russell has had little to regret since making his hobby his business. His website overtook one of their main competitors last year to become the second most popular in the category. “We have two main competitors, and we overtook Essential Ibiza last year. Now we’re growing our market share against Ibiza Spotlight year on year. But the competition is healthy, it keeps everyone innovating, and things have definitely developed since we came along.”
That growth and development is key to Russell’s success. Having seen impressive year on year growth, he’s now excited about the opportunities for 2015. “We’re building a hotel and villa section on to the website and have a partnership with booking.com to offer hotel bookings, while people can book villas directly through us. It’s a huge addition for the business and should convert into a lot of sales.”
That’s not all that he’s got planned for this year. Russell says he knows that to stay at the forefront of the industry it’s necessary to innovate. It’s why IBZ.TV is also launching a brand new website primarily for mobiles, and new Android and iPhone applications. Recognising the ubiquity of smartphones, and the difficulty of finding printers when travelling, he is also launching Ibiza’s first paperless tickets.
Despite the website being entirely Ibiza-focused, Russell has chosen to stay at home in Guernsey. He heads to the Balearics once a month in the summer, spending around five weeks there during the season. “I meet up with people and with our team of staff who are over there, and help to build up new contacts and find new business opportunities. I did live there in 2012 for the summer, but I quickly found out I worked more efficiently here – even if it is more fun there!”
Ibiza may be fun, but the whole experience of the IBZ.TV business has been a satisfying one for Russell. “I enjoy the excitement and challenge of it all. It’s constantly growing, and when I see the traffic to the website it feels amazing that all those people are using something I’ve built. The challenges of running a business are also really exciting, although with the amount you need to think about it’s definitely been a learning curve.”
“My advice to anyone thinking of starting a business like this would definitely be to give it a go. There are ways to begin without investing a lot of money. Small websites can be produced quickly and cheaply to test out whether there is something viable. If you have an idea, try it out and see what happens – obviously as long as it’s not Ibiza-based!”