A young entrepreneur from County Durham is aiming high with a new marketing company, established with help from South Tyneside business incubation company, HarperCo Limited.
Ben Maughan, 19, left school at 16 and rather than taking the traditional higher education route, taught himself coding and web development in only a year, while honing his marketing skills through a job as marketing manager with the Sandman Signature hotel group.
On being hearing about HarperCo through a friend, he set up a meeting with chairman David Harper, who has since provided back office support, vital contacts and business knowledge for Mr Maughan’s business, Very Niche.
Already, a number of a high profile clients are working with the company, including Geoban UK, part of the international Santander Group, Talent Training (UK) LLP and hco-people Ltd, a Tyneside-based workforce solutions business.
Mr Maughan is now targeting £300,000 turnover next year, rising to £600,000 the year after.
“I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur since the age of 12 or 13,” he said.
“I was getting business idea from the age of about 16. I started a clothing brand at 16 and went on to stock the clothes in three North East shops. I’ve always been confident. It’s never scared me - age is just a number.
“But the thing that’s given me most confidence is working with David.”
HarperCo, which also has offices in Bristol, Darlington, Gatwick and Glasgow, boasts a wide range of investments in sectors as diverse as workplace training, executive recruitment and management consultancy. Its primary aim is to provide partner businesses with leadership and guidance, introductions, full back-office support and cash-flow.
Previous investments have included a pre-employment screening and vetting business, a number of interactive media businesses, a live music promotion company and a firm that designs and manufactures gravimetric dispensing systems.
Harper himself also left school at a young age and with no formal qualifications and was keen to back Maughan on recognising the extent of his self-taught skills.
Very Niche - one of a number of new businesses being incubated by HarperCo - will offer a wide range of services such as web development, brand strategy consulting, brand management and more.
Mr Harper said: “I was impressed with Ben’s vision and could see the potential for his offering in the marketplace.
“Combining Ben’s creative ability, as well as his deep knowledge of digital technology with our experience of growing businesses, I am looking forward to driving Very Niche forwards”.