profiles - a light-hearted look at industry personalities

No. 24 in a continuing series

Caricatures by

David Lewis

Ken Sewell

Managing Director, Entertainment Technology Press Ltd

During his youth Ken's rational side was preparing him for a legal career, while his real ambition was to play lead guitar and tour the world. The obstacle to legal success was the necessity of Latin at which Ken was a dismal failure. Switching to Economics, a discipline based largely on bullshit, Ken found his natural metier.

A second awakening came at Cambridge where Ken realised that playing the guitar was never going to make him rich but that the entertainment industry offered plenty of opportunities for an aspiring entrepreneur with a Bedford van. He started an entertainment agency, promoting bands and discos, including his own (cringe!), Purple Cucumber.

In 1970 he formed Pulsar Light of Cambridge with Paul Mardon to sell effects lighting and the company survived the ups and downs of the entertainment business to become one of the largest manufacturers of lighting controllers for entertainment.

In 1999 he sold his interest in Pulsar and bought another guitar but the band wouldn't have him back because all his hair had fallen out.

Ken knocked 12 off his golf handicap, but the idle life soon palled and the lure of business again beckoned. Anyway his wife refused to have him at home during the day so something had to be done.

He founded Realnet during the boom, as an internet service provider. Realnet now specialises in designing websites that come top of their sectors on the search engines, using special techniques developed by Dr. Tony Berg, Realnet's MD.

But then came another turning point when Ken joined forces in January 2000 with John Offord to create Entertainment Technology Press Ltd aiming to supply a wide range of internet services for the entertainment technology industry.

During his time at Pulsar, Ken Sewell became a founder member of PLASA (or BADEM as it was then). He served on the PLASA committee for many years including several years as treasurer, during which time the turnover of the Association grew from less than £50,000 to approaching £1m.

One of his special skills has been using computers to automate business processes. He wrote most of the software used in Pulsar's integrated manufacturing, stock, accounting and financial control system.

He has a particular knack of getting computers to behave.

Look out for the next subject in our Profile series...

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