A FATHER of three has been inspired by his children’s changing hobbies to start an online business that could become the eBay of the sports world.
Richard Weir realised there was money to be made when wading through the outgrown and unwanted sporting equipment in the family’s garage in Tynemouth.
Rather than throwing out the used gear, ranging from football boots to tennis racquets, surf boards and wetsuits, he hit on the idea of starting the Swapcat.com website where people could swap or sell their unwanted sports clothes and equipment.
“As a World Cup nears or Wimbledon fever builds we’ve all rushed to try out our new favourite sport and either stopped long before the tournament has ended or enjoyed it so much we’ve bought new equipment to further our interest,” said Mr Weir.
“Then there are the children. They are always into the latest fads or must-have brands which their friends use or wear and they also grow so quickly every year it is case of new strips or boots. Following a clear-out of my garage I was amazed to discover how much sporting equipment we had amassed over the years, and so much of it hardly used.”
He took the idea to Business Link, which provided a £7,500 grant towards developing the website and creating jobs to staff the enterprise.
Mr Weir, whose day job is running family building firm Macoun Construction in Tynemouth, intends to take on two people in the summer to look after Swapcat. He is particularly keen to find a graduate with the experience to take the idea to sports clubs and sporting magazines.
And he has ambitious plans to take the Swapcat concept global if the business takes off in the UK. “We don’t know how successful it’ll be, but we do want to make it as successful as possible,” he said.
“If it is successful in the UK, we would roll it out around the world. Our next port of call would be Ireland.”
He reckons the idea is particularly pertinent in the current economic climate when money is tight and green issues are high on the agenda.
“There’s the recycling element, that’s on a lot of people’s minds these days and obviously, the financial side of things – getting a little bit of money for it,” said Mr Weir “It’s just a waste to go out and buy new every time.”
Swapcat users register free and pay £1 to list products for sale or swap.