Back in 2005, The Prince's Trust supported Charlie Southall with a £3,500 business start-up loan as well as key business skills to help him succeed and 15 years later the business is still thriving.
Charlie Southall is the Founder and CEO of Dragonfly, a London-based video production company. His work has taken him to 6 continents, and he has worked with clients like Amazon, Google, Honda, and Sony. Charlie is now a successful businessman – but things could have turned out very different. He started his business on The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme with just a business start-up loan and an unshakeable resolve.
Charlie’s early life was tough. Growing up in Coventry, it was easy to get in with the wrong crowd and like many teenagers he soon found himself on the wrong side of the law. He describes this as a bit of a wake-up call, which made him determined to get back on track. He picked up his education again and succeeded in gaining a place at university to study film. However, when he graduated and didn’t immediately land a job, he wasn’t sure where to turn next.
Moving to Brighton for no reason other than it seemed an exciting place, Charlie had “no prospects and no money in the bank”. At the time, he was even struggling to buy groceries. It was when he saw an opportunity for a new business idea that he saw a way out of his situation.
With a degree in video production, Charlie was sure that he could support businesses and charities with videos to help them tell their stories. He approached The Prince’s Trust for support and received £3,500 as a business start-up loan, business advice and a mentor to support him.
Fifteen years later, Charlie is still running the business that The Prince’s Trust helped him start. He is also now a father and is very proud to have given his daughter a different start in life to the one he had. His company has invested millions of pounds into the freelance talent pool – as well as sparking a few marriages and children along the way when people met on Dragonfly jobs!
Charlie is immensely proud of the domino effect his initial loan from The Prince’s Trust has had – not only in helping him start his business but, in doing so, helping hundreds of other people into work, on to the property ladder and giving them a chance to chase their dreams.
Dragonfly also supports charities and prioritises creating videos with purpose. Currently, the company is supporting a charity by giving them a video completely for free, after they were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The video is worth thousands of pounds but for Charlie it’s a privilege to be able to give something back. He is determined to teach his daughter the same values.