Why I launched my business at 17
Category: Reader Stories | 16 January, 2013 12:07
I don’t believe in the phrase “when I grow up”. If you’ve got the means and the drive to achieve something, age shouldn’t get in the way.
For almost as long as I can remember, business has been important to me. As a kid, I remember setting up various entrepreneurial ventures – some of them successful to a degree. They might not have made me my first million by my 13th birthday but they did provide me with experience and motivation. When I decided to launch Capturate a number of years later, I already knew that if I really put my time into the company, I could achieve great things.
Part of the definition of ‘Entrepreneur’ is ‘an individual who takes risks’ and that risk factor is something that prevents countless people from following their desire to enter self-employment. At 17, I’m in a truly unique position. I don’t pay a mortgage, council tax, utility bills… I’m sure you understand where this is going, I haven’t really got much to risk, this is the best time in my life to take a chance. What’s more, my generation is unfortunately already at a great disadvantage. With the UK still in the grip of economic crisis, university fees have rocketed, the cost of living has gone up and the job market is perhaps at it’s bleakest in a very long time. This recipe of obstacles means that starting out isn’t easy – and with the odds stacked against me, creating Capturate has been a challenge.
I see so many graduates, full of ambition and talent but without any offer of employment. For me, this was never an option. I remember being told once that if I was to achieve everything I wanted to and live my life by my own terms, I couldn’t simply rely on others. If the world stops handing out cake, make your own… Okay, maybe that was a bad analogy but you get the idea!
The basic foundation of my company, Capturate is that we provide a service to photographers to help them achieve bookings, we’re a photography booking site (the very first in fact) – so think hotels.com for photographers. Once I’d translated my idea into some kind of visual means of explanation (not a business plan, they’re not always the Holy Grail), I met with an acquaintance (now a good friend) I’d made the previous year who worked as a professional web designer, Tom Addis. He was immediately taken by the concept and we decided to go into 50/50 partnership.
In the beginning, we set quite ambitious launch date targets but as the site and the concept itself developed, it became clear that this wasn’t something we could throw together overnight. It took us 5 months from the beginning of development to the complete roll out of the site in the UK and 4 months post launch, we’re really attracting a lot of attention. Photographers love the idea and they’re rushing to sign up.
I’m still an A Level student and managing my academic life with my work life has been one of my greatest challenges to date. I spend my life living two different identities – each with very different areas of focus and when I’m sitting in a lecture, I find it impossible to switch off from business. I’d like to say that the same can be said for work, that I’m thinking about college assignments during meetings but that would be a lie! The number one obstacle for me right now is coping with two very separate worlds simultaneously and overcoming the negative stereotypes often associated with my generation. Welcome to life as a student entrepreneur.
Everything’s a little bit of a juggling match right now and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve looked up from my computer screen to find the clock showing 3am but to me, I don’t see what I do as work. To work implies to do something because you have to for economic gain (at least that’s how I’d define it)… The difference is that I love what I do and whether it makes big money in the long run or not, I’d be mad to have never attempted it.
We’ve got big ambition for the company with a planned site redesign and a global launch on the cards within the next couple of years – and although I’m committed to Capturate, I’m only just getting started in the world of business. I think everybody has the capacity to do well, especially young people. Never let age stop you. If you’ve got an idea, follow your dreams.