Twenty-one-year-old University architecture student Nigel Borg began his first business venture in 2018 with NB Media, which has now grown into a fully-fledged company, known today as sharphawk, with a growing team and working with some of Malta’s biggest brands. Dayna Camilleri Clarke caught up with Nigel to find out more.
How did NB Media begin?
I started my first proper business venture in 2018 founding NB Media. Just like any other startup, at first I started taking on very small projects and doing most, if not all of the work myself – from social media management to designs, websites and more. Slowly, the company started growing and I could get the first team member on board. Since then, our team has grown to seven team members and I have also brought interns onboard from time to time. This has allowed us to work with several prestigious brands and companies such as ST Hotels, Tex Mex and NSO on various different projects.
What challenges have you found locally along the way?
Well so to speak, Malta has been quite good to both myself and the company, as I consider myself quite lucky to have all this at such a young age. One challenge, which we encounter and is faced by many in our industry, is the fact that there is still a lack of appreciation towards our industry when seen through an artistic perspective. Some people still find it hard to understand the true, long-term value gained through building recognisable brands.
Have you received criticism because of your age?
Of course, being just 20 years old and having started doing business at an even younger age, I have experienced several scenarios where people question the quality of work of both myself and the team’s, based on just my age. But up until now, we have luckily always managed to overcome that specific obstacle through our work and client portfolio.
How have you adapted to Covid-19?
Surprisingly enough, although the effect of Covid was definitely felt, the effect was not so harsh on the company. This is because our company has seen the most growth, regarding both the team and client base, during this time. Could we have seen more growth had there not been Covid? No one can really tell, as we all know that tough scenarios always bring about several positives and learning opportunities.
Something, which also really helped our company, was the introduction of Stickersmalta. This is a brand that was launched in March of last year, just when government announced the partial lockdown in Malta. Essentially, what we did was enter a booming market at the time, as several companies were looking to invest in Covid protocol stickers, QR Code menus, etc. The revenue, which was generated through this company, was then reinvested into NB Media, now known as sharphawk.
What feedback have you been getting and what’s next on the horizon for sharphawk?
Up until now, the feedback has been exceptionally great, and with the launch of sharphawk we only hope that things get even better! Although we did face some slight criticism due to our age, in general, the support has been excellent. What’s next on the horizon? Well, of course, the first step is to keep on growing locally, produce even better work for our clients and get more people on board our team. A more ambitious goal would be taking sharphawk to an international level. Some plans are already in place and we are currently working with an international business consultant to ensure that the right steps are taken at the right time.
What advice would you give to others thinking of starting up a concept?
As cliché as it may sound, the most important thing is to believe in your vision and always have a long-term approach when dealing with any business and personal project. This is because several sacrifices need to be made in the short-term but it is the end goal that generally keeps you going.