Aaron Gregory, an HNC Business Management student at Ayrshire College, is one of the first to receive a grant for £5,000 from the Ayrshire College Foundation to help him start up his own business. Here is Aaron’s story.
What made you interested in enterprise activities?
I’ve always had business ideas since I was about 14. One of my first enterprises was fixing phones for my teachers. At school I joined in the Prince's Trust project and this introduced me to what was involved in running a business and the whole experience really inspired me.
I’ve always loved music, from the age of five I had my first guitar and it’s been my passion ever since. At school we formed a band called Artificial Pathogen. We’re still going and doing really well, and have played in festivals all over the UK.
What have you done since leaving school?
I have been at college doing various courses that interested me; Sound Production – which helps me with the band, Computing Science – learned how to build a website and now Business Management, to help me learn how to run a business. For me it’s all about the preparation you put in so that you are ready for the opportunities once they come along.
How did the opportunity come along to start your business?
I was down in England at a music festival and I met an African band. After the event finished they were discussing what to do with all their promotional merchandise that was left. I offered to take it all and sell it for them – which I did! They were delighted and we both won out of the deal. After that, I just carried on doing it for other bands and the business has been demand led since then.
Tell us more about your business
I aim to offer a high-quality service for merchandise design/printing and distribution. I currently offer a distribution service for bands, and in doing this I ship off orders from the UK to the USA and European countries as it is a lot cheaper to do so. I work with three bands directly, but also have access to 200 bands through another site I manage called CHUGCORE.
I have two types of customers. Firstly, the band is a customer and for these contracts I will be working with them to sell an agreed number of units of products. My other customers are those buying the products directly from e-commerce websites which I manage.
As well as the retail side of the business, I will also offer touring services, which I have done before. This involves going on tour with the band, and setting up merchandise stalls at gigs, selling and keeping a track of inventory. Anything left over after the tour would be put up on to their online store to be sold at a discounted price. The band ideally want to network after the gig and meet contacts or rest – not sell merchandise, so this is an important role to play when the band are on tour.
How has the Enterprising Students Fund helped you get your business off the ground?
Lynn Kelly, our mentor has really helped me get to where I want to be. We met once a week and she helped me put together a business plan, she introduced me to other contacts that could help and invited me along to various enterprise events to hear inspirational speakers and have an opportunity to network. I’ve also got to know some of the other students who are writing business plans, and we help each other out as each person brings a different skill set to the table.
I have been fortunate to have my funding application approved, and I’d like to thank the Ayrshire College Foundation for supporting me. The £5,000 grant will allow me to purchase the necessary equipment to print the merchandise for the clients instead of having it made from another company. This will save a lot of money and maximise profits for myself and for the bands.
What do you think makes your business unique?
I have a lot of contacts and knowledge in the metal band music scene which will help me source the best products for my customers. I can do the whole printing process myself, which means I can offer better prices and my customers only have to deal with me.
How do you plan to grow your business?
By using my network of contacts. I have a great contact in New York, he manages a record label and looks after 170 bands so I am optimistic about the potential demand for my products and services. I also think my band tour packages will be in high demand.
I am in a really happy place right now and just embracing all the opportunities I have had at college. It has given me confidence to know that I can do this and that any barriers I face can be overcome.
If you have been inspired by Aaron and would like to find out more about the Enterprising Students Fund, read more here: http://www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/enterprising-student/
Scott Haddow, a NC Sound Production student at Ayrshire College is one of the first cohort of students to be awarded a £5,000 grant from the Enterprising Students Fund supported by the Ayrshire College Foundation.
Here is his story.
Tell us about your business Eleven:Eleven Events
I offer a range of entertainment to bars, clubs, hotels and host private events across Ayrshire and Glasgow. Entertainment ranges from Comedy nights, Live Music evenings to Magic Shows and our very exciting new Variety Show, which has already been receiving some attention.
Besides offering entertainment for bars, club and hotels, I want to give back to local charities by running events to help raise awareness of mental health, invisible illnesses, and kids with autism in Scotland. My nephew has autism and I want to be able to help in any way I can to bring people together for great causes and raise money.
The acts I have been working with recently include: Laura B (Singer/Songwriter) from Glasgow who has recently featured on BBC One, Nicholas McDonald (Singer) Glasgow - X-Factor runner up, Steven Blair (Magician), Joe McTernan (Comedian/Actor), and Ben Davidson (Singer) from Kilwinning.
What drives you?
In the creative industry you have to make your own opportunities! I love the energy you get from an audience. I am passionate about music and helping others, so it made sense to me to create a business that uses my creative and enterprise skills to do something I love doing. When I left school I was a labourer and then trained as a fencer, but I was miserable working for others. Working for myself - I just love it. It’s a pleasure to do my work, in fact I don’t even see it as work, so I don’t mind working long hours because it’s what I want to do with my life.
What have you learned so far about being self-employed?
I love learning and to be successful you need to keep on learning and improving to be the best you can be. I have read lots of self-improvement books and the one that inspired me the most is, “The Secret” by Rhonda Burn. I have learned how to channel positivity – this was a real turning point for me.
For example, I organised an event and it did not go as planned. However I carried on and reflected on it afterwards, and learned from that experience. When you think it’s all going wrong, you still have to believe you can do it. You have got to think on your feet, be flexible and willing to change how you do things. I have also learned that networking is very important, and can help you find the contacts and information you need to be successful. I have learned that it’s fine have your head in the clouds, but it’s important to have your feet on the ground too, and it will take time to build up credibility as an events organiser.
How has the Enterprising Student Fund helped you start your business?
My mentor Lynn Kelly believed in me and helped me realise my potential, and that has had the biggest impact of all. She helped me to understand the finance and marketing side of my business, and showed me how to write a business plan. I have also enjoyed going along to various enterprise events and workshops Bridge2Business has organised, these have been inspiring.
It’s also lifted my aspirations – if I didn’t come to college, I wouldn’t be doing this now. It really has turned my life around, and got me to a better place.
The grant is fantastic and I will be buying equipment such as a PA system, microphones, lighting, projector, cameras, smoke machine and even a red carpet! This means that whatever venue I hire for my events, I know the equipment will be reliable and will enhance the show. I’d like to thank the trustees from the Ayrshire College Foundation for this fantastic opportunity.
The skills I am learning on my sound production course are great for helping me create the perfect sound for my events. I have learned how to use a mixing table to optimise the sound. I will be continuing on to the HNC Sound Production course next year, as well as running my business. It’s just three days a week, so plenty time to fit everything in.
If you have been inspired by Scott, and are interested in starting your own business, read more here about the Enterprising Students Fund. http://www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/enterprising-student/
Tell us about your business
1815Media is a multi-level photography and videography business which will cover corporate, private, and individual work. The business is unique because we encourage and offer work experience for the community and college students within Ayrshire. I am passionate about creating the finished product. I love working to a brief, by adding my creative flair to make the videos or photos work.
What made you decide to become self-employed?
I’ve always loved photography as my main hobby. When I left school, I went to university to do web development, but it wasn’t for me. Instead I came to college and studied HNC Media Analysis and Production where I learned about filming and editing. Now I am doing the HNC Photography course to learn technical skills for lighting, camera and editing, good people skills, and the ability to work under pressure.
I just like the idea of having my own business as I enjoy being creative and telling a story through images. Every job is different and I like meeting people and helping them to get the images/film they want.
In a busy marketplace how do you get work?
Networking provides massive opportunities. I think if you do a good job, you will get repeat business and referrals, so the quality of your work and the service you provide is vital for new business. You can’t beat word of mouth and a lot of my work comes this way as I’m asked to photograph lots of local events. Online, my Facebook page and my website work well so it’s important to keep my portfolio up to date.
What opportunities have you had since coming to college?
The lecturers have been outstanding. They helped me believe in myself and built up my confidence. They have inspired and encouraged me to go further and realise my true potential. College is a friendly, supportive place to learn and my experience here has raised my aspirations to go further and higher.
How has the Enterprising Students Fund helped you?
My Bridge2Business mentor Lynn Kelly has worked on my confidence, she is always so upbeat and happy and it’s infectious! She has taught me how to manage my time, and given me advice on how to plan my work. The whole experience has prepared me for life after college.
I am delighted to receive the £5,000 grant. The main pieces of equipment I will be buying with the funding are a new SLR camera, 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal and a Drone. With this extra equipment, I can secure more contracts. I have already had some great offers which came about from an opportunity I had through the Tom Hunter Foundation. Now I will be able to fulfil the client brief and I am excited to get started on this.
I would like to thank the Ayrshire College Foundation for believing in me and giving me this opportunity.
If you have been inspired by Bryan and would like more information on the Enterprising Students Fund, read more here: http://www1.ayrshire.ac.uk/enterprising-student/