The older I get, the more I appreciate the fantastic upbringing that my parents gave me. They allowed me to try new things and encouraged me to always try my best. My dad's favourite saying was 'the world is your oyster', he would always tell me that if I put my mind to something I could achieve anything.
At the age of 16 my life was turned upside down when I became Young Engineer for Britain 2006 with my product The StairSteady. It was my GCSE resistant materials project designed to help my teachers father who had had a stroke.
The award is very prestigious and alone could have sorted me a great university place and later a good job. But remembering my father's words I realised that that wasn't what I wanted. I had seen that my product changed lives and I wanted to take that further. I didn't want to sell it to a company that would shelve it. I wanted to prove it would work and then get the support of a big company onboard who would back it.
The StairSteady is a unique product, It's a specialised handrail helping the user to walk up and down stairs- think a zimmerframe for your stairs. This is great in one way, however it soon became obvious that taking a new product to market in the mobility industry was not going to be easy. Did I mention we only had £1200.00 to do this with? We were very much the underdogs.
I persuaded my parents to let me use my university money to launch the product. The amount bought us a small 1by3m stand at a national Healthcare show called Naidex. It was a real family effort, my sister was given permission to have time off school to help and joined the small team of my Dad, Mum, the web guy Matt and myself. Luckily the product shined through and we soon had the headline of the BBC website. The show went well, we had potential clients, the trade were interested and Occupational Therapists loved it.
The product went from strength to strength. Over the next three years we had our ups and downs. The company who did our fitting we lost in the recession, but every cloud has a silver lining, and this allowed us to work with Handicare (formerly Minivator) the biggest mobility provider in Europe. We started employing people and got new offices (previously I had worked on the dining table). I found I loved the freedom running a business offered. I had say on how we dealt with customers, the way in which we sold the product and who we worked with.
I enjoyed running a company so much so that in 2011 I set up two more. SteelTV which is a community media company, run for and by young people, and Drol LTD set up with private investment- A toy company linking play and education.
My first business taught me that with hard work anything is possible, an idea can be turned into something real. I am constantly reminded of my Dads saying 'the world is your oyster' I really truly believe that if you put your mind and heart and soul into something, anything can be achieved.