Export Finance Australia’s Small Business Export Loan helped boutique design and special effects agency Fin Design and Effects deliver on multiple large projects in China.
Now an industry veteran, Emma Daines, Group Managing Director of Fin Design and Effects (Fin Design), started her career in the design and visual effects (VFX) industry as a receptionist. Creating a reputation for herself over 15 years and building a career that spanned from Melbourne to Asia, London and then Sydney, she grabbed an opportunity to set-up a boutique design and VFX house in Sydney.
“An opportunity arose when I was asked to set up an editing facility in Sydney. My response then was, in the days of special effects and big post-production companies, what was missing was a boutique company that offered a personalised service that was all about creating an experience for our customers,” said Emma.
After knocking back offers to become a partner in the business, it was third time lucky for Emma, who eventually said yes.
“I am very passionate about this industry. I had a vision, and after working for 15 years, I wanted to create a new mould. We’re in a creative industry and it’s important that the talent and artists are part of the equation and not just hidden somewhere.”
“I would say we were the first boutique FX company in Australia. We concentrated only on the high-end visual effects, CG animation design and compositing.”
Starting with just five people, Fin now boasts 65 people across their offices in Sydney and Shanghai.
Emma eventually brought out her two co-partners and has been the sole owner for nearly 10 years.
Expanding into Asia
“We started exporting pretty well from the start. I tapped into a lot of my American contacts from the beginning. It was a slowly but surely process because I was concentrating on the local market as well,” said Emma.
“As we grew, Asia became more of an interest. Local talent in Asia was not as sophisticated as what we had to offer, so potential customers would come seeking Australian experts, due to proximity.”
Employing someone on the ground to help build customers and promote the business was Emma’s next step.
“We were marketing in China, being more open, and it actually became a really big possibility for us. To that point, our clients were asking us to set up in China.
“My approach was to set up in Shanghai and get expat talent and a dedicated pipeline back to the Sydney office that gave them the service they wanted. Basically, we duplicated the model of Sydney into Shanghai,” explained Emma.