Entrepreneurs: Blue7Team shows the right way to provide a service


Anyone regularly attending functions in Port Moresby will soon come across the work of event production company Blue7Team. Business Advantage PNG speaks with co-founder Naraai Banam on the challenges of running a leading services business in Papua New Guinea.

Blue7Team's Elwyn Agonia at an event at the Lamana Hotel

Blue7Team’s Elwyn Agonia prepares for an event at the Port Moresby’s Lamana Hotel

Elwin Agonia and Naraai Banam began Blue7Team in March 2004, when there were basically only two types of events in Port Moresby: concerts and charity fundraisers, or corporate events.

‘The only time a corporate entity looked at an event manager was when their marketing agency told them they needed an event and then usually the agency was the event producer,’ says Banam.

‘Yes, Papua New Guineans can learn and can do it on their own.’

Both came from media backgrounds: Agonia started at EMTV in video production and finally radio at Radio Kalang FM before they both worked at Nau FM, where Banam was in a sales and marketing role.

After being involved in starting up FM-Central and FM-Morobe, they realised they wanted their own business.

The trigger

Blue7Team's Naarai Banam

Blue7Team’s Naarai Banam

‘What pushed us over the edge was the premature birth of our daughter at 26 weeks,’ says Banam.

Story continues after advertisment...

‘Two months in the special care nursery gives you a lot of time to think and for a fledging radio station this is not such a great thing. I did go back to the station for a little while but within a year had resigned to start our own thing.’

Agonia had also been moonlighting as a DJ with the only sound and lighting production company in town, Flashes.

‘We looked at our strengths and our passions—Elwyn’s being the knack for knowing how to ‘pull’ a crowd, marketing foresight and logistics logic. Mine being leadership and sales and marketing.

‘We realised we didn’t have the hundreds of thousands of kina needed to do sound and lighting production, so we used what we had: ourselves,’ she says.

Flashes had been a weekend hobby and the owners did not have the time to meet the demand. So the couple took over, developing a ‘full service’ event production company; sound, lights, video, staging equipment and everything in between.

‘We operate with a full time team of 15 and three long-term casuals. We can easily have in our employ between 4 and 50 casuals at any one time.’

The right stuff

Last year, Blue7Team’s turnover was just under K2 million, and a sizeable portion of that turnover goes toward equipment. Banam says acquiring the best audio and video equipment is a test of their relationship.

‘Elwyn is very good at what he does and technicians want the best. So, it is a constant battle between the both of us—while I preach cashflow, he preaches equipment.

‘But we are very close now to acquiring the pro gear we’ve always needed and Elwyn deserves.’

Next year, says Banam, the company aims to spend more than a million kina on equipment.

Secrets to success

Banam says there are four elements to their success: having the best technical know-how in the country, passion, and a ‘never say die’ attitude. And, finally, patience.

‘Having the patience to know that we can do it ourselves—resisting the temptation to have non-Papua New Guinean capital injection that would take ownership and our identity.

‘Patience to ensure that we come out on the other end saying … yes, Papua New Guineans can learn and can do it on their own.’

That said, going it alone isn’t always easy—Banam says one of her biggest challenges is not having a mentor.

‘Having two people make all decisions on their own is a bloody lonely me-against-the-world situation,’ she says.

Nevertheless, the proudly independent Blue7Team looks ahead positively to its its tenth year in 2014. Banam anticipates ‘growth in our style of services and products offered and the final realisation of dreams and plans.’

Leave a Reply