Big Youth Group: Jack Parsons

Hoping "to change the world for young people", this start-up aims to get millions of unemployed people into placements, apprenticeships and jobs

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Name: Jack Parsons
Company Name: Big Youth Group
Location: London
Date Launched: 1 February 2018

Tell us what your business does:

“My mission is to change the world for young people by creating two million work-life experiences in the United Kingdom before taking this mission global.”

Big Youth Group will consist of three companies that all share the same purpose – to improve the odds for young people.

The Big Youth Project will connect the younger end of this demographic to small and medium enterprises and big business, helping them to access support along their career journey – starting with advice and mentorship and evolving to work experience, apprenticeships and ultimately full-time employment.

The Big Youth Accelerator will support passionate young founders in their quest to disrupt the status quo. 10 start-ups with founders under 30 will be selected to be part of the first cohort. The accelerator will provide access to a community of 200 mentors and investors plus a range of services including commercial and sales advice, proposition and marketing support and how to on board the right talent.

Lastly, The Big Youth Academy will support those already in a career but seeking a change in direction and/or a more purposeful career.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I had the idea two years ago when I wanted to find a way that I could help improve the lives of young people. I noticed that a lot of businesses were using the two million apprenticeship levy as a tick box exercise – some companies were even willing to pay the fines anyway!

I didn’t like how this was handled, so my idea to build a community to improve the odds for young people was born.

How did you know there was a market for it?

At the time there were over 750,000 NEETs (not in employment, education or training) in the UK; this is an extremely high number and I felt that if we were able to help these young people into industries they were passionate about then we could take a huge step towards solving the skills gap issue.

What were you doing before starting up?

I was a top biller at a recruitment firm. Being a recruiter really gave me a tougher shell when it came to dealing with adversity and people.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

The thought of running my own business was always daunting. When I left my successful career as a recruiter on a Friday and tried to start a business on the Monday, Google was my best friend and I literally immersed myself and soaked up all the knowledge I could.

How did you raise the money?

It’s about who you know, not what you know. If you meet one person and connect, you have the potential to connect with their network, and so on.

Everyone loves a great idea – so in my case people were very keen to become a part of it. The challenge is maximising those connections whilst retaining purpose and perspective.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Our revenue will come from Founding Partners, and Big Youth Group will also draw revenue from successfully integrating apprentices within businesses.

There’s also the accelerator, where companies who want to grow at speed will utilise our extensive help in exchange for fees.

Our core values lie within supporting young people, and as such we will also benefit from CSR and philanthropic contributions.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

For the past few months of my last venture, I literally felt like I was swimming in a pool full of sharks and scuba divers with knifes – that’s to put it bluntly.

I have learnt the lesson, though – make sure you surround yourself with the right people, the best people.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Winning Young Digital Leader of the Year 2017 was a tremendous boost in confidence for me.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Fail fast. My failure was a pretty expensive one but it was a valuable lesson. And don’t ignore your mental health for the sake of your business.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

In five years’ time… I want to grow the Big Youth Group into an international collective of youth-first companies that are driving a meaningful change in the world. So we’ll be looking to bring the BYG to a global scale.

I’d also like to be buying products and services from companies that BYG helped with their own start-up journeys (and maybe reading about some of them on here!).

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