Lessons on launching a business during a pandemic

Ravi Amaratunga Hitchcock couldn’t have chosen a worse time to set up shop – or could he? He discusses launching consultancy Soursop with his wife Lucy Hitchcock in the midst of Covid-19, and why it’s vital for creative businesses to be ready and willing to pivot in times of crisis

As we’ve witnessed over the past few weeks with the sheer number of companies furloughing staff or going into adminstration, coronavirus does not discriminate – at least not in a business sense. In the creative industries, entire agencies have been forced to adapt to remote working overnight, cancelled shoots have become a constant headache for production companies and, thanks to limited government support, small business owners are turning to each other for help instead.

If you can relate to the stresses of trying to run a business during this strange time, spare a thought for Ravi Amaratunga Hitchcock and Lucy Hitchcock, the husband and wife team who just launched their own creative shop, Soursop, in the middle of the worst global health crisis since the Spanish Flu.

In his previous life as an employee, Amaratunga Hitchcock had a varied career spanning TV as an editor at Channel 4, editorial at Dazed, Nowness and i-D, and advertising at Amsterdam-based agency We Are Pi, where he headed up its Pi Studios offshoot, while Hitchcock is a PhD researcher and art director whose work largely focuses on global perceptions of luxury.

Ravi Amaratunga Hitchcock and Lucy Hitchcock, co-founders of Soursop

Amaratunga Hitchcock had been toying with the idea of setting up his own thing for a while, but there were a couple of factors that finally made him decide to take the plunge. “One, I wanted to do a bit of everything from all the worlds that I’ve been in, so I wanted to continue making docs and TV stuff, doing content and working with brands on strategy,” he says.

“Within an agency structure that is quite a specific set of asks, so I kind of figured out the only way to do it was to do it solo. The other reason was that a lot of my peers were either moving into interesting positions within brands, or were going freelance, or wanted more flexibility, and I think they weren’t getting that kind of flexibility from the places they were working, so we thought it would be a cool opportunity.”