Inspire an entrepreneurial generation
This week we celebrated some major recognition for Language Connect in ranking within the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. Our explosive growth of over 400% in the last 3 years ranked us as the 50th fastest growing private company in the UK. To top it off, Sir Richard Branson cited Language Connect along with Morphsuits, BrewDog and Graze.com as examples of inspiring Fast Track 100 businesses created by young entrepreneurs.
I founded Language Connect with my wife Iwona when I was 23 from a corner of our living room. I’d originally planned to be a high-flying investment banker and retire in my thirties but the hierarchical structures of banking not to mention the monotonous, 100-hour plus working weeks demotivated me enough to give up those delusionary plans and seek something more fulfilling. In my university days, I was lucky to have had that first spark of inspiration about starting a business from some talks by founders of dotcom companies. The 100-hour weeks didn’t stop when we started Language Connect but through perseverance and continued enthusiasm for growing our business it slowly paid off for us.
My own experience of being fortunate to get into business early on is why I’m passionate about creating work opportunities and raising awareness of entrepreneurs amongst young people. Your twenties are a perfect time to create a business, typically free from the financial commitments of having a family later on and more humble standards of living expectations. My old university, Bristol, recognises the importance of entrepreneurs and has established a student start-up incubator called basecamp to help students get their business ideas off the ground. Basecamp also sponsors a few of the most promising ideas with funding and desk space in the University’s IT faculty for students to concentrate their efforts fully over the summer holidays outside of study. The lure of well-paid internships in the City presents a high opportunity cost to cash-strapped students, however initiatives such as Bristol’s are the beginnings of a time where starting a business from a young age is encouraged and supported.
Of this year’s Fast Track 100, a quarter of the companies were founded or co-founded by people under the age of 30. Today, with the low-cost availability of powerful technologies such as cloud computing and 3-D printing, technology that in past generations would have only been accessible to the largest of corporations, the opportunities for innovation are plentiful. What we need is the creativity and enthusiasm of young people to maximise them.
At Language Connect, we offer a start to the professional journey for bright, ambitious self-starters throughout the year via our internship programme and apprenticeships. Several of our now experienced operations staff started at the company as interns and our first school-leaver apprentice has recently started a permanent job on our Sales team. We also work with schools and universities to provide support and encouragement to young people to pursue business ideas as well as promote the importance of foreign languages in business. By making it into the Fast Track 100, we hope to inspire the next generation to emulate our success and encourage all of our peers to do the same.