Wings Swim School: Adam Knight

Adam Knight shares his vision for quality swim lessons with his maximum three-children-per-class rule

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Name: Adam Knight
Age: 22
Company: Wings Swim School
Staff numbers: 6
Location: Twickenham
Date launched: 29/07/2013

Tell us what your business does:

We are a premium yet affordable swim school with a MAXIMUM of three children per class. We operate in partnership with The Mall School in Twickenham, SW London and teach everything from adult and baby lessons up to elite level triathletes.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Having taught at various council pools with eight-12 children in a class, I noticed that the quality of the lesson was reduced because of the small amount of time spent on each individual child. Three is the magic number.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Having done some market research, I discovered the concentration of primary schools in the area of South West London. It was clear that there was a definite demand for a high end swim school, reflected by the demographic.

What were you doing before starting up?

Before starting up I was studying for my BA (Hons) English degree at the University of Southampton, (completely unrelated I know) but I had continued swim teaching while at university to pay for living costs.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, even from a really young age I knew I wanted to be my own boss, and having this idea has given me that opportunity.

How did you raise the money?

I won the University of Southampton Take-off Business Competition 2013 where I had to do a Dragons’ Den Style pitch to the deans of enterprise, business and management. Luckily, they liked it!

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

Securing a contract with a pool, finding the right teachers and getting bookings! Believing absolutely in yourself and your business is key as if other people see that you are passionate they will be more likely to believe in you and more importantly they’ll want to work with you.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We rent the swimming pool for a fixed price, pay the teachers a good hourly rate and charge our clients a premium rate due to the small class sizes and immaculate location. Swim teaching can be profitable if you get your margins right, however, finding a good pool at a cheap price is impossible!

What was your first big breakthrough?

Winning the prize at the university was a big help. Coming fresh out of university, the one thing you don’t have behind you is a big piggy bank full of cash. The funds have been crucial in launching our company. Furthermore, convincing the school that we were worth working with was probably the biggest breakthrough as without a pool we don’t have a business!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Learn from other people’s mistakes, and then crack on with your idea. If you are passionate about something and there is a market for your idea then go for it! Even if things don’t work out the first time, or the first three times, at least you were bold enough to try and you will have learnt so much in the process.

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

I want to be operating in three locations in South West London. I also want to expand the teacher training aspect of my business as I am qualified not only to teach children how to swim but also to train people to be swim teachers.

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