A student from Devon recently won an award for starting his own business and was crowned ‘Inspiring Entrepreneur of the Year 2015’ at the University of St Mark & St John.
Harry Solomon, 21, from Ivybridge, set up his company 'Wombat Cricket', after his love for the sport was galvanised with business know-how and inspiration from his course at the University of St Mark & St John.
Through studying BA Hons Sports Development and Coaching, Harry said: “I really enjoyed learning about coaching and cricket and, when I was researching how cricket bats are made, I met my business partner.
“We’re the only company in Devon that makes bats completely from scratch so I’m trying to keep the tradition going. They are all hand-made and there are no machines, apart from one which is used to press the cleft, which gets the spring out of the bat.
“As soon as I finish at University I will be working full-time in the business. The plan is to take what I’ve learned from my degree to set-up a coaching side to the business. I’ll be going into schools as a coach and will continue to grow the equipment side of things."
Wombat Cricket is run from a business retail unit in Tavistock where they make custom handmade cricket bats, as well as selling hats, gloves, kit bags and equipment for a mix of ages from juniors to adults.
When asked how Harry managed to stay focused on his academic work, he said: “I’ve found being organised and by making sure I plan enough time to run the business and my studies is what made the difference.”
In terms of motivation, he added: “Money is one thing, seeing a customer walk out of the shop with a smile on their face, that’s another. Knowing that it’s a dying art and that I’m young, ] that I’m taking it on from an older man and I’m probably one of the youngest bat makers in England - for me, that inspires me to keep going."
When asked what advice he would give to other student entrepreneurs, he said: “Just stay focussed, and at the end of it when you’ve finished something and you see the reward, that’s how you get through the tough times, you just keep going.”
To find out more about courses at the University of St Mark & St John, register to attend the next Open Day, visit www.marjon.ac.uk/opendays.