Tom Naylor, Director, SilentArena

Undertake careful planning before starting a business. Have an idea on the market you want to target, and what you will do to be different.

Tom Naylorx400pix

“I studied a BSc in Music Technology graduating in 2005. I chose the course because I had a personal interest in the field, and wanted to forge a career in this area. The degree also included a large element of practical hands on study which really appealed to me. Both direct education and outside work experience I undertook gave me an insight into the technical and theoretical knowledge."

SilentArena is an event and production company that specialises in wireless audio. I started the business in 2007 and after growing to meet demand from some of the UK's biggest festivals and clubs. We expanded into Europe and America and conceived, designed and manufactured the first glowing headband headphone. We have offices in the UK, France, Italy and America with more planned for 2016.”

“We started the business as we spotted a gap in the market. There were silent disco options available, but most were not suited or produced well. We saw the need for late night entertainment (especially at festivals) for thousands of revellers. We sourced equipment and adapted its use to bring silent discos from a previous typical capacity of 500-1000 people to 10,000 plus.”

“There have been many landmark moments for me.  I was particularly proud when we opened offices in Europe, and I personally launched the new office in America. Another huge achievement was manufacturing our HALO headphones as a world’s first. It took us almost five years to design and complete, organising four partners, grants, and trips to China! It was a long and often difficult process.”  

“The HALO SYSTEM we designed, are a world first custom designed silent disco headphone. A glowing headband shows who is listening to what DJ with a different colour allowing the crowd to see exactly what everyone is listening to, bringing in a new era of DJ competition. We introduced them in the summer of 2014 at the famous Reading Festival, and over 30,000 people experienced the future of Silent Disco.” 

“But it’s not all festivals and glamour! We have company meetings most days to recap the previous and talk about events coming up. Responding to emails and organising upcoming events can take a few hours. I am also responsible for our custom IT software so bugs that have been reported get addressed. On a weekly basis I deal with accounts which includes reconsolidation, invoicing, VAT and weekly reporting. I also deal with the majority of media for the company so if there are any designs or news stories for events I will coordinate them and update our platforms.”

What advice does Tom offer USW students and alumni wishing to forge a business career? "Undertake careful planning before starting a business – have an idea on the market and what you will do to be different. Upcoming fields are hard to predict but easy to differentiate but established markets can bring rewards too – but require more thought into how you will fit into the established eco-system. Risks are necessary but can be mitigated by knowledge and an understanding of what customers will want.”