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/