College students skate-away to success after funding win

Nineteen-year-old Daniel Cantwell from Birtley and his friend Gary Binns, 20, from Newbottle have both undertaken Talent Den, a scheme designed to equip students with the entrepreneurial skills, confidence and expertise needed to start-up a business.

Now, after preparing a business plan for their start-up company Skateshead and pitching the idea for a new North East skateboard competition to young people’s charity Live UnLtd, they have won a £5,000 grant to fund their ambitions.

The cash will be used to organise, promote and advertise the competition at Gateshead’s Dynamic Skatepark in August that will feature several events to showcase the talents and skills of the best young skateboarders in the North East.

It’s also expected that some of the UK’s most well known skateboarders will be attracted to participate in the event.

Daniel and Gary's plans for Skateshead also include ideas for targeting skateboard and other sports equipment manufacturers for additional event sponsorship and competitor prizes.

The students finalised their plans following business coaching from well known local entrepreneur, George Heydon.

Working with him has been beneficial for the young skateboard fanatics and paid dividends, enabling the pair to draw on his experience of starting and running several businesses to shape their plans and identify the opportunity for a new regional competition.

Gary Binns, who along with Daniel Cantwell is studying an IT Level 2 BTEC NVQ at the college, said that the funding will pay for the competition but any remaining cash will be reinvested for the future which might including setting up a small manufacturing company producing bespoke skateboarding gear.

He said: “We’re extremely proud of what Skateshead has achieved so far and excited that the competition will take place now that the funding has been secured.

“We’d originally looked at starting a business making skateboards, clothing and accessories but George, with all his business experience and knowledge thought it would be a better idea to produce and promote the competition.

“We wouldn’t be anywhere now if it wasn’t for his help. He understands the extreme sports market and constantly challenged us during the workshops to review our plans and come up with fresh ideas.

“He really opened our eyes to what needed to be done and how to achieve it. It was great to have him on board and learn from his expertise to ensure our business plan came to fruition.”

The Talent Den programme is a specialist initiative to support students with the skills, confidence and motivation to take an idea from concept to reality. It covers many of the important elements of starting up a new business including ideas generation, financial planning, getting products to market and mentoring.

George Heydon said: “Skateshead’s a terrific example of an entrepreneurial North East business run by go ahead people with a talent for success.

“It’s been marvellous to be able to work with both of them and help them realise their potential. Daniel and Gary have come up with a terrific idea, an excellent plan and have now secured the financial backing needed to see it through to a successful realisation. I wish them the best of success.

“We need to identify, nurture and harness the talents of more entrepreneurs like them to take the region forward and help stimulate growth and wealth creation.”

Tony Holt, IT lecturer at Gateshead College, worked with Gary and Daniel to organise their funding pitch.

He said: “Congratulations to Skateshead on its success. Daniel was very impressive in pitching to secure the funding.

“Now, it’s back to the hard work as they look to finalise plans for this summer's event. I’m sure it’ll be a winner and lay the foundations for even more success in the future.”

Live UnLtd is a charity supporting people aged 11 - 21 by providing cash awards for launch projects. This includes dedicated support from a member of the Live UnLtd team and the chance to learn new skills and secure up to £5,000 funding for start-up projects.