Posted: Fri 1st Jun 2012
Following the launch of our StartUp Loans Kit to support the government's new lending programme to help young entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into a reality, we're highlighting some of the 20 young business-owners who feature in the guide. This week, we turn the spotlight on Katie Smith, who started her business at just 18.
Having watched her mum successfully grow her own kitchen supplies business, Katie Smith (above and left) had a good grounding in the ins and outs of running a start-up. ItÂ also helped her find the gap in the market for her own homegrown business, Tastes Marvellous, founded when she was just 18."Tastes Marvellous came about when a customer in Thailand bought a cake tin from my mum's business," explains Katie.
"She asked us if there was any chance we could nip to Tesco and pop some Bisto in her order. I thought that if this one lady needed a service like that then there had to be other potential customers out there looking for the same kind of thing." So Katie founded Tastes Marvellous, selling 'food from home' to expats across the world. She supplies British favourites to those living in markets where they're unavailable, doing a mean line in everything from Bisto to Marmite. "Once I got started," says Katie, "it grew quickly; and sales are still increasing." Katie promotes the site through Google AdWords and expat blogs and websites. "I would like to crack Japan and the Middle East," she says. "I'm currently talking to the Japanese Embassy. I'm also signed up for a year-long programme with UK Trade & Investment, which should give me access to good information and contacts." She's even started a second venture, Kate & Sydney, to take advantage of the overseas popularity of British products shown by the success of Tastes Marvellous. Kate & Sydney offers a range of bags decorated with cockney rhyming slang - quintessentially British and likely to be popular with the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee in 2012. "There's no such thing as not being able to do something "¦ If you think it's a good idea, just do it! The motto my mum swears by is, 'Say yes to everything and worry about the detail afterwards'. So far, that motto hasn't let me down! "I know from watching my mum's business that you usually don't finish up where you begin," says Katie. So she's aiming high. Her ambition is to keep Tastes Marvellous growing and to see her bags "in a department store by the end of 2012". We wouldn't bet against her.
If you're aged between 18 and 25 and thinking about starting a business, you can apply for a low-interest loan of up to Â£2,500 to get you on your way. In addition to the cash, you'll get vital mentoring support and a free copy of the StartUp Loan Kit, packed with advice and offers. Find out more about StartUp Loans.