Glasgow entrepreneurs reveal how they got on the ladder to success

THAT same entrepreneurial spark which ignited the careers of some of Scotland's richest people is being encouraged at a one-off event in Glasgow.

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Ricky Singh, Lewa Thomas, Morven Strachan, Ryan Longmuir.
Ricky Singh, Lewa Thomas, Morven Strachan, Ryan Longmuir.

Local young people interested in becoming their own boss are being invited to attend a free seminar tomorrow at the Grand Central Hotel in Gordon Street.

The Get Enterprising! event is organised by Youth Enterprise Zone in partnership with Youth Business Scotland (formerly the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust), Glasgow City Council and Glasgow's Regeneration Agency.

It aims to bring budding Bannatynes, Mones, McColls or Gills, aged 16-30 years-old, together with experts who can provide advice and support on starting up a business.

The all-day event will be compered by Glasgow comedian Anna Devitt, who started her business Direct Devitt in 2010 thanks to the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust.

David Hamilton, co-founder of Dundee-based computer games developer Digital Goldfish, will be the guest speaker.

There will be workshops on finance, marketing, presentation skills, networking, as well as motivational sessions, and a chance to quiz a panel of young entrepreneurs.

Councillor Stephen Curran, executive member for Education and Young People at Glasgow City Council, said: "Glasgow's young people have a huge amount to offer, and our future prosperity depends on the opportunities they are given to use their skills and talents.

"The Youth Enterprise Zone is a great example of a programme that provides a springboard for Glasgow's young entrepreneurs – all the more so in challenging economic times – and that is why the city council is delighted to support it.

"I would encourage anyone interested in setting up in business in the city to come along to the event tomorrow."

To register for the event, visit www.getenter prising.eventbright.com or call Louise Moore on 0141 204 4009.

Ahead of the event, the Evening Times met four young entrepreneurs who had the get-up-and-go to make their start-up dreams a reality.

TEAM SINGH

RICKY Singh is aiming high. The 25-year-old, from Irvine, is dreaming of a gold medal at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games as well as building a thriving personal fitness empire.

The personal trainer combines his passion for boxing with encouraging his clients to become fit and healthy.

He founded Team Singh with the help of PSYBT in November 2010 shortly after graduating in sport and exercise science from the University of West of Scotland in Paisley.

He said: "I'd exhausted my options. I'd left uni with my degree and I had applied to gyms and they wouldn't hire me. I just thought rather than work for somebody else, I would work for myself."

Having worked with Kilmarnock footballers such as Garry Hay, Tim Clancy and Jamie Hamill, he now leases space at Hillhead Sports Club in Glasgow's West End where his clients include wealthy businessmen.

A boxer since the age of 11, he is intent on returning to the ring after recovering from injuries to his eye and the tendons of his left hand.

"I've not given up – I always have some hope," he said.

"I've used my business to keep me focused."

l www.teamsingh.com

LEWALICIOUS CAKES

BAKER Lewa Thomas has designs on becoming Glasgow's answer to Mary Berry – even although she's only been baking for two years.

The 23-year-old, from Charing Cross, founded her business last August, shortly after she graduated from a degree in psychology from Glasgow Caledonian University.

She learned to bake using recipes from a cookbook that she had bought as a Christmas present for her sister.

"She never used it," smiled Lewa.

"I thought I'm going to use it, so I tried it and I just kept doing it every week, making cake for my own greed.

"People started saying they would pay for that and that was when it took off."

Having baked a cake for her colleagues when working for a debt collection agency in George Square, she asked to borrow clingfilm from Elia Greek Restaurant, which was downstairs from her office.

The manager put in an order for another cake on the spot. Lewa now uses social media sites and craft fayres to market her luxurious creations.

The sole trader wants to set up as a limited company and hopes to find premises to make and sell her baking – instead of using her mum's kitchen.

"I want to have a café bakery – we'd do all our own cakes and you'd also be able to order new cakes," she said.

l www.lewalicious cakes.co.uk

MORVEN

THERE was little doubt in Morven Strachan's mind what her career path would involve after school.

"I remember one of my art teachers at parents' evening saying that I was sunshine on legs, while according to my maths teacher numbers were a mystery to me," said Morven, 26.

"It was quite clear that I was going to go into art!"

The Masters graduate from Glasgow School of Art has recently set up her own textile business making soft furnishings from her home studio in Castlemilk.

She received £500 in funding from Youth Business Scotland that helped her buy the materials to make her first batch of designs.

Her intricately-embroidered cushions are sold via her website at local craftmakers' fayres, while she has also been approached by interior designers who want her to create bespoke pieces for boutique hotels.

In the future, she hopes to expand her range into bedding, wall art, wallpapers and printed textiles.

"A cushion costs from £35 to £55 – but it's all hand-embroidered, so it does take a long time," said Morven.

"When you look on the high street, I'm actually the same price sometimes compared to things that are mass -produced.

"You're buying something that's unique."

l www.designby morven.com

REGIS

BANQUETING

WHEN Ryan Longmuir was approached about starting his own catering business a decade ago, his experience of the industry at that point was as a school-leaver working in McDonald's.

He took a leap of faith and, armed with a £5000 grant from PSYBT, he established Regis Banqueting.

Ten years on, the Cumbernauld-based company employs 30 staff at its base in Blairlinn Industrial Estate and Ryan has cooked for Michelle Mone and Gordon Ramsay.

The company has almost 100 wedding bookings for this year so far.

The father-of-two said: "I just learned as I went along.

"It was quite good being young and naive."

Ryan, 34, had previously worked with drug addicts and alcoholics when a representative of the Freedom City Church in Cumbernauld asked if he'd be interested in setting up a business that would provide catering for the parish.

He said the confidence shown by his church, and PSYBT, transformed his outlook on life.

"It was helpful that people believed in me and gave me a chance," he said.

"I had been involved with drugs and made a lot of wrong choices, but they were willing to take a chance on me and I had a lot of ongoing support."

l www.regis banquet ing.co.uk

WHAT if Arnold Clark hadn't made a profit renovating his first car, if Michelle Mone hadn't worn an uncomfortable bra to a dinner dance, or if Duncan Bannantyne decided against buying a £450 ice-cream van? Imagine also if a young Tom Hunter hadn't spotted a gap in the market for trainers, if Joanne Rowling hadn't dreamed of a boy wizard, if Jim McColl hadn't had designs on engineering or Charan Gill hadn't worked a second job cleaning toilets in a Glasgow curry house.

MAUREEN ELLIS spoke to the entrepreneurs of the future.

Business

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