Evolving: Travis Baxter

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Evolve mentor and expert business advisor Travis Baxter shares his thoughts on the creative industries, its exciting new trends and some all-important advice for emerging SMEs… 

What big changes have you seen impact the creative industries in recent years? 

I think it’s all technological – specifically technology enabling people to do things they couldn’t do before. I also think there’s this fantastic ability for people to move across sectors because of technology. For example, just a few years ago it would have been near-impossible to think a designer of motorbikes would be someone who could naturally work within the film industry or vice-versa – but actually we’re all dealing with creative imagery that’s created using electronics, and in many respects the skills are intertwined. I think there’s a really interesting area where people in the creative industries are able to cross-fertilise between totally different sectors. 

How do these changes impact those outside of the creative industries? 

Well the person who designs the new super-efficient turbo-charger, electric engine or efficient battery is part of the creative industries. The creative industries always were a bigger sector than just making films, radio or books. It’s manifestly evident now, more than ever, just how much that creative impetus forms so much of what we do as human beings. It can be applied to so many interesting areas, in so many different ways. New technology is allowing that to happen in ways that wasn’t possible before. 

 What’s the most exciting innovation within the creative industries innovation that you’ve seen recently? 

I love the merging of technology with humans. It’s a negative comparison but it’s a bit like the Borg in Star Trek where we all end up with implants. Elon Musk and Google, amongst others, are working with this sort of thing. Of course, there’s the medical application of implant technology – and there’s the genetic area; biological technology being applied to us. There’s also augmented reality, virtual reality and holograms where technology and physical existence merge together. That’s absolutely fascinating. This isn’t science fiction about something that’s going to happen two or three hundred years from now – it’s going to happen in the next 30 years. 

 Where do you see the creative industries going – what’s exciting you about the future? 

Augmented reality, virtual reality and holograms are technology that just needs to be developed along with the business models and creative elements around them. That development is five to 10 years away, at most. The future is really about starting to integrate technology and bio-technology into the human form and creating a hybrid existence where we can live, socialise, be educated and entertained online. We clearly live online and offline at the moment but usually we do it through screens. It’s going to become a much more three-dimensional, dynamic experience that you can take part in without moving a step. The film The Matrix has some interesting echoes around all this. 

What do innovators within the creative industries need to know when starting their business? 

If you start a company, you’re an idiot if you don’t do something you enjoy – so make sure you continue to enjoy it when you start your company. The other thing, and this applies to an awful lot of businesses, is to be really specific and very focused. Starting out, you have no resources and no time. However much you think you have time, you haven’t. To make a success out of doing what you love – really be focused about it. You might think you’re limiting your own potential but you never are. Say Picasso’s standing in front of a canvas with some paints. Does he say: ‘The one thing I need is some clay?’ No, he creates a visual masterpiece in two-dimensions. He gets on with it – and it’s the same thing with starting a business. 

 Words and interview by Simon Bland