Skip to main content

Student entrepreneur secures place on Welsh Government Excelerator programme

26 February 2021

Young man outdoors wearing t-shirt and jacket

A Cardiff University undergraduate who founded an online resale shop and sustainable streetwear brand aged just 14 has secured a place on the Welsh Government-funded Excelerator programme.

Final year BSc Business Management student Olli Smith is one of twenty-three young people (aged 18 to 25), women, members of the BAME community and disabled people who will take part in the programme championing diversity within the Welsh start-up landscape.

The virtual programme will also help participants overcome the business challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bringing together people from those groups who have experienced a greater economic impact as a result of the COVID outbreak, the programme will support participants to imagine, start and grow new ventures or, in Olli’s case, scale an existing one.

Over the course of 12 weeks, participants will:

  • Attend a series of webinars and masterclasses, one-to-one expert mentoring and coaching, from inspirational speakers, role models and business growth experts.
  • Go on a step-by-step journey from business idea to paying customers
  • Implement sustainable business models
  • Develop core business skills and a ‘success mind-set’.

Olli started Solus Supply in 2013, after initial success running a distribution company for businesses in and around Bournemouth where he grew up.

Making a positive impact

Solus Supply t-shirt collection

After moving to Cardiff to study, Solus Supply went from strength to strength on Facebook, Instagram and eBay and, most recently, through the company’s own website.

Their online store sells t-shirts, fleeces, bomber jackets and sweaters from the likes of Marino Morwood, Nike, Patagonia, not to mention Solus Supply’s own branded clothing.

Olli said: “We use organic cotton products and sustainable packaging and practices wherever possible, to ensure we minimise our carbon footprint because I don’t want to leave the environment worse off because of my business. I also want to start doing more for charity with my business, by donating a percentage of annual revenue and supporting local and international organisations via clothing releases...”

“I’m really fortunate to have been selected for the excelerator programme. The networking opportunities are invaluable, and I’ve already met some great businesspeople from all kinds of industries on the scheme. My hope is that the excelerator will help solve some of the challenges I’m facing with Solus, especially in production and supplier procurement and cash-flow, too.”

Olli Smith BSc Business Management

“Ultimately, my long-term ambition is to be self-employed and make a positive impact on the world. I want to improve lives and not just make money.”

The Excelorator programme is being delivered as part of the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said: “I wish to congratulate these business founders for being selected to take part in the inaugural Excelerator Programme. We recognise that women, young people, those from a BAME background and people living with a disability are significantly under-represented when it comes to business start-ups in Wales, and we want to help change that.

“This Programme is part of our £40m investment in delivering on our ‘COVID Commitment’. This funding is there to ensure anyone over 16 in Wales can access advice and support to find work or pursue self-employment. Encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship will be a big part of this commitment, so this programme will help entrepreneurs with high-growth potential access the expertise they need to take their companies to the next level...”

“This presents a fantastic opportunity for the 23 entrepreneurs taking part, who will receive expert support to develop a sustainable, robust business model. The programme will provide invaluable access to a network of experienced mentors and peers, who will work with them to develop a clear growth plan.”

Ken Skates Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales

Olli and the rest of the cohort will finish the programme by attending an awards event in April 2021, which will provide valuable profile and PR opportunities for Solus Supply and the other companies involved.

Find out more about Solus Supply.

Wherever you are in your entrepreneurial journey, Cardiff University’s Enterprise and Start-up Team can support you as you develop skills for business start-up, self-employment and innovation.

Share this story

We can help you develop your business start up ideas as well as offer you guidance and practical support.