A Derry teen who was uninspired by his A Level studies made the monumentous decision to turn his life around, travel to London to study with one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs and set up his own company.
Mike Martin from the Culmore Road will launch his own online beauty and healthcare website next week - and he is preparing to shoot for the stars when it comes to his future.
For the 18 year-old has just finished a year’s training with the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy where he received expert guidance from industry leaders - including the famous ‘Dragon’ himself.
“I was 17 and had just completed my lower sixth year,” Mike explains. “I went back to school at St. Columb’s College to complete my studies and just thought that was not where I wanted to be. Business in my blood and I just wanted to out there and work towards my goals.”
He started researching ways to achieve his dreams and stumbled upon the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy, run by Dragon’s Den panellist and entrepreneur Peter Jones.
“Within a week I had signed up, moved to England and was starting my studies at the Academy.”
At the same time, and with the support of St. Columb’s College, Mike was able to continue with his A Level studies remotely.
Mike admits moving away from home to live independently at the age of 17 was “a bit scary” but he said he was soon able to find his own feet - “I had to grow up fast.”
He said however the learning experience offered by the Peter Jones academy was “unbelievable”.
“It wasn’t a matter of sitting in a classroom and being taught - the course works on a very practical level. The ethos behind the course is practical learning - working on set up practises, how to finance our businesses.
“We were given projects where we worked with major companies on campaigns - doing work they implemented.”
Among the companies Mike had a chance to work with were Orange, T Mobile and L’Oreal.
Mike’s idea for a mobile application was taken onboard by T-Mobile and he will be working with them throughout this year to put that idea into production.
He worked alongside Peter Jones himself for a month - attendings meetings with him and helping with some of his Dragon’s Den investments.
Students at the Academy also attended masterclasses held by entrepreneurs such as Jacqueline Goldman, founder of Ann Summers and also the founder of the Nakd Health Bar company. The course also gave Mike the chance to meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Despite this heavy practical workload, Mike managed to ace his A Levels, with thanks he says to the staff of St. Columb’s College.
The future is bright for him now. Next week he launches www.uniquelooks.com and is excited about what lies ahead. “I’m just going to start small and go from there, but this course has taught me the sky is the limit.”