Meet the 18 year-old on a mission to “matchmake” UK entrepreneurs
Following the launch of TBE Club, Ollie Forsyth tells Startups.co.uk why his exclusive members network will provide business owners with “the best opportunities”…
When Startups speaks to Ollie Forsyth – the entrepreneurial prodigy who is on to his third business at the age of 18– on September 22 he is riding the wave of the launch of The Budding Entrepreneur (TBE) Club, his new venture which kicked off with a high-profile event at the Shard one week earlier.
Forsyth, who has overcome dyslexia, bullying and being branded a “failure” after leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, is founder of e-commerce store Ollie's Shop and online business resource The Budding Entrepreneur Magazine.
The launch of his new start-up, an exclusive members network which charges aspiring entrepreneurs £25 a month to gain access to “the best opportunities”, attracted over 200 attendees and involved panel talks from Reggae Reggae sauce founder Levi Roots and Alfie Best of Wyldecrest Holiday Parks.
Forsyth tells us that the inaugural event also attracted “big corporates, investors and budding student entrepreneurs”, with the latter group a key focus for Forsyth who is passionate about making “kids at schools more entrepreneurial”.
So why would an 18 year-old want to “matchmake” entrepreneurs and what makes TBE Club so different to other similar business networks? Read our quickfire interview with the young founder to find out…
What was the inspiration behind TBE Club?
“Having met some really interesting entrepreneurs and corporates over the years, I found that people were often asking me to make introductions. I just had that [lightbulb] moment when I thought about launching an exclusive club and that's where it all began.”
Tell us more about the club; What is it and how will it work?
“There's an invitation and application process; it’s about creating a really good network of entrepreneurs.
“For me, business success is about surrounding yourself with the right people. If you come to [one of our] events, it could just change your business forever. It's all part of the package [the £25 membership provides access to one event a month, access to the network and workshops and invitations, and discounted services from partners ] but at the moment we're just building the network.
“We're thinking more about the matchmaking process and how we can introduce corporates, investors and entrepreneurs to each other.
“I want to provide entrepreneurs of any field or background with a platform to establish new connections, and support the next generation of leading entrepreneurs and their ideas.”
What makes the club different from other business networks and member groups?
“We’ve got a whole different age range, we’ve got a more affordable membership, and we’re more about speaking to key entrepreneurs and getting them to share their stories to the business community. It’s about getting the best opportunities to entrepreneurs and those in the start-up and business space; be it students, corporates, and big organisations.”
What's your business growth strategy?
“We're London-based at the moment and we plan to open a network in the North of London at some point. [Longer term] I'm thinking of the global potential. I’ve got contacts in Europe and Asia so I'm thinking about how we offer the same membership at the same price in somewhere like Bangladesh.
“I want to have over 1,000 members signed up over the next 12 months. I also want to focus on the student community and [answer the question of] ‘How do you make kids at schools more entrepreneurial?' I'd love to run an accelerator programme for students and offer them access to a mentor and let them come to our entrepreneur events!”
And lastly, what would be your essential business advice to anyone starting out?
“If you’ve got an idea just really try and do it. Don't think you need a degree or qualifications either; I’ve visited two business schools and they don’t teach real business skills!
“Definitely get a mentor too. I have just brought on board an advisor for TBE Club; Felipe Alviar-Baquero (who starred in The Apprentice 2015), and he’s a great lawyer.”
The TBE Club's next event takes place on October 12 with keynotes from Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers and Apprentice winner Joseph Valente.