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Cardiff University graduate becomes start up business of the year

19 November 2007

A Cardiff University Psychology graduate who followed his dream of starting a sports training company for young people, is celebrating becoming a start up business of the year.

James Taylor’s company Sportstars Wales has been named as the NatWest Startups Awards Business of the Year just 18 months after starting the business with money from a birthday gift.

SportsStars, which benefited from the support of an entrepreneurship scholarship from the Knowledge Exploitation Fund, also took home the Community Impact Award for the business’s contribution to tackling childhood obesity through increased physical activity.

James and his team offer sports coaching for children during school holidays and provides cover for teachers during the compulsory planning, preparation and assessment work time. The company also runs sports coaching sessions during term time and works with parents to offer after school and weekend events across 15 different sports.

The 24-year old entrepreneur, who has grown the company and won other awards, including Shell Live Wire Young Entrepreneur of the Year Wales, 2006, said: "I feel amazing and so proud. I wanted to show that you can go out there and grow a highly successful business making lots of money whilst doing something extremely positive within the community at the same time. It’s great to be able to show people that people like me can go out there and chase their dreams."
The judging panel which included Martin Webb, presenter, Channel 4’s Risking It All; Sahar Hashemi, co-founder, Coffee Republic and Oli Barrett, founder, Make Your Mark With a Tenner, commented: "SportStars proved it was entirely possible to start and run an ethically sound, community-minded business while remaining unapologetically focused on revenues and profit."
James will be revealing how he made his entrepreneurial dream come true during a series of special seminars at the University soon.

Dr Catherine Bushell, Entrepreneurship Officer at Cardiff University said: "James is the latest in a long history of dynamic and entrepreneurial people to have graduated from the University.

"It will be great to be able to welcome him back to act as a mentor and share his success and enthusiasm with other young people thinking of embarking on a business venture."

In a separate project, a group of current students from the University who are part of a global initiative called Students in Free Enterprise won £350 from Make Your Mark, the organisers of UK Enterprise Week, to allow them to run a project at Coleg Glan Hafren in Cardiff.

The aim of the event was to encourage college students to gain awareness of entrepreneurship and other related skills in a fun and interactive environment. Over 300 college students attended the workshops and the Cardiff students hope to repeat their success by holding similar events at other local colleges.

The University is able to offer help and advice to any students wishing to start their own business through its Student Enterprise Unit. The Unit provides a range of assistance including skills training, professional development and start up support for new businesses.

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Notes to Editors:

Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a memberof the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities.

Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk

Further information:

Lowri Jones / Victoria Dando
Public Relations Office
Cardiff University
Tel: 02920 870995 / 879074