A TRAINEE teacher who kicked off his football coaching business for young children with the last £200 in his current account was last night crowned the winner of a challenge to find the region's next big entrepreneur.
Matthew Lawn, from Seghill, near Cramlington, is celebrating today after being crowned If We Can You Can Challenge 2012 winner at an awards dinner following the Entrepreneurs' Forum annual business conference in Gateshead.
The 27-year-old impressed judges, supporters and readers of The Journal, who backed him to win the coveted title and the potentially life-changing prize of professional expertise, advice and contacts designed to accelerate his business career.
Run by the Entrepreneurs' Forum, the Challenge is in its fifth year and has supported hundreds of emerging business owners who entered, setting them on a shortcut to success through an online community.
As The Journal's winner, Matthew will receive a bespoke package of critical financial and legal advice tailored to his aims and ambitions from Eversheds, PwC and Yorkshire Bank.
Matthew was inspired to start his business, Football Squirts, after getting the chance to coach football to children in the USA.
Back in the UK, he researched the market and found that while a number of companies provided coaching for older children, there was a niche in the under-six age group. He set up Football Squirts in 2008, quickly establishing a trademark and domain name, www.footballsquirts.co.uk.