Meet the young business entrepreneurs of Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 11:06 10 April 2013 | UPDATED: 15:50 10 April 2013
Just how do young people get started in business today? We met a pretty resourceful bunch of Cheshire entrepreneurs. Words by Martin Pilkington MAIN PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON
Even Bentley, the biggest name in Cheshire business, was once a start-up. Maybe some of the countys young entrepreneurs who recently met David Cameron and James Caan can build brands to rival it?
The event was to promote the work of the Start Up Loans programme. The Prime Minister has praise for the budding bosses:Some of them are already employing people, which is great news for them and great news for the economy. It is by backing our entrepreneurs and championing small business that we can drive forward and grow the economy.
Alexandra Smith from Hale met Mr Cameron and James Caan, former Dragon and now Chairman of the Start Up Loans Company. It was a privilege to be one of those chosen to meet them. David Cameron was really interested in what the various companies were doing and he gave me some advice on working tax credits - the Prime Minister is a pretty good source of information to have!
Another of the young guns has a prime ministerial connection of her own Joanna Jaeger-Booth is the half-sister of Cherie Blair. Joannas entrepreneurial spirit showed early: My first business venture was at school the local video-shop was selling sweets near their sell-by-date really cheaply, so I bought a load and sold them at school for a massive profit. It was very lucrative for a time then the shop stopped selling them. I was devastated.
After her schooling at Longdendale Community Language College near Hyde she honed her skills at Manchester Metropolitan University, in her final year researching the attributes of entrepreneurs. Unlike many of her contemporaries when she left education in 2010 she found a job rapidly - two days after graduation. The business bug had bitten her, however, and last year she bought the website MyFashionShop.co.uk, and changed its focus to student fashion: I chose fashion as its something that I can relate to, and student fashion as thats my age group and theres an opportunity there.
The 23-year-old is now back in Mottram where she grew up, and has already branched out with an online magazine Student Style: is it a coincidence Richard Bransons empire began with a student mag?
Alexandra may be just 25 but knows a promotional opportunity when she sees one: when she met David Cameron she soon had him tasting and approving - her beetroot chutney. Were just finishing the branding of the range there are six products at present including Chardonnay Jelly and Lemon Curd, and Im talking to delis about stocking them. I make them at home myself, but if things go as hoped I could be employing five people this year.
With experience already in kitchens from Asia to Manchester she caters for events, working with Hale friends Paul Almond and Claire Bishop, and theres another innovative strand to her food business, a supper club run twice monthly in Altrincham: Weve had people of all ages those in their 50s and 60s looking to meet new people, do something different; younger BBC employees who have moved up to work in Salford and know the idea already...
The tables are mixed so you get to talk with people youve not met before. We put the word out on social media about two weeks before each one, but now are getting some regulars. The Nom part of the company name is the approving noise a friend makes when she likes a particular dish.
Johns spur to set up his own business was an unlikely one, a rugby injury: It was time for me to rethink things: my hand was in a cast, our second child was on the way so Id not be very good at changing nappies. I decided to turn my other hobby passion of photography into my career.
The Sale-based 30-year-olds previous work as an engineer for Sky meant he brought other peoples images to clients, now he can focus on his own. He used his Start Up Loan to buy a special lens for his sports photography, and studio lighting for more conventional work: Sports photography is not an easy business to get into, but Ive been helped by Sale Sharks, have now got my accreditation for Rugby League, not the Super League yet, as its only my first season, but its a start. And Ive done a game for Manchester Giants basketball team Im keen not to just do rugby but a wide range of sports.
You have to think about it as a business, so Ive got a wedding to do shortly, and am talking to a local school about doing some pictures from them.
Michael Evans and Jason Brown
Pictures of the moving variety have long been a passion of boyhood friends Michael and Jason. Given Michael is 22 and Jason just 21 they definitely qualify as Young Entrepreneurs. They both studied Film Production at UCA (University for the Creative Arts) in Farnham, Surrey, and immediately after graduating found themselves in LA on an internship. That was where we had the idea to set up our own company. A friend put us in touch with someone who wanted a music video, says Jason: It got 20 million hits on YouTube but it was the artist who got the revenue!
Weve used some of the loan for marketing, including getting our website, and to pay things like accountants fees, and keeping the company afloat for the first year of trading while we get things moving. Were doing corporate and music videos.
It was inspiring to meet James Caan. He was really enthusiastic, and a nice humble guy who seemed genuinely interested in what we are doing. You could see he had a passion to try and help all of us.
The pair have set up their company in the place they grew up, Great Sankey in Warrington, but with luck and effort LA may not have seen the last of them.