How does a project go from being a university side hustle to being a limited company with 40 clients? Seizing opportunities, being grounded and growing at your own rate is 28-year-old Mathew Parker’s answer.

 From Young Enterprise to full-time business

Mathew started his web design and digital marketing enterprise in 2010 when he was only 21.

“When I finished uni, I put everything I had into the business. We now have clients all over the country and we help them with web design and development, email marketing, social media, content creation and tools such as Google Ads,” he says.

Registering the business as a limited company in 2016 provided Mathew with the opportunity to change the name from PPM Business Solutions (it was originally based on his own name, Parker) to Roseblade Media. “Roseblade is a family name on my dad’s side so it keeps it personal and local,” he says. He runs Roseblade Media from the business park in Ebbw Vale in Wales, where he grew up.

“We love the local area - it’s fantastic. We run the business in a building owned by Tata Steel - we’re in a typical Welsh valley with a strong history of steel and coal companies. The old steelworks site was bought by the council, which set up a new college, primary school and train station,” he says.

Aged 11, Mathew was already designing websites. “A friend introduced me to coding and it became a real passion,” he says. He went on to study Computer Science at the University of Glamorgan, the same course that Starling engineer Sam Rose did. “The business started as a way to get a bit of extra cash as a student doing web design and development. After I’d been working with clients for a while, I’d be asked ‘do you do social media?’ or ‘do you do email marketing?’ And so the services offered grew from that.” The Roseblade team is made up of himself and Siân Morris, a pay per click consultant, who has worked with Mathew for the last five years.

Mathew had early experience of entrepreneurship at secondary school through Young Enterprise, the enterprise education charity that delivers practical programmes for young people to learn about running a business. “I was nominated as managing director of our project and we ended up being the second best school for Young Enterprise in Wales that year. It was quite an achievement for me, it gave me a taste of running a business and made me want to do more,” he says. The project that he ran with his classmates was giving eco-friendly carrier bags containing a book for messages, disposable camera, class photo and Leavers DVD for the students moving from Primary to Secondary school.

His advice to others starting their own enterprise is simple: “Be yourself. One of the things I struggled with is that you see other people doing similar things. But the important thing is not to compare yourself to others who might be faster than you or making more money. You are who you are, your business is what it is,” he says. “Find your feet and make it work.”

Mathew Parker, Roseblade Media
Mathew Parker photographed by Lee Garland

Ask for help

Mathew emphasises the importance of reaching out to programmes designed to help businesses get off the ground. “There’s a scheme set up locally called BG Effect that gives free business advice and signposting to people starting a business. It’s partially funded by our local authority and so you work directly with the people who give grants.” One of the people he worked with at BG Effect had been a business advisor at Young Enterprise. These connections with the local business community have been just as important as the knowledge and skills gained from the Young Enterprise programme, through which Mathew has been able to reach out to people for help and advice to make his business a success.

Running a small business always comes with many challenges. “Cash flow is always a big issue for any small business and the QuickFile accounting software has been a godsend for us,” he says. With Starling, business customers can download CSV files and upload these into accounting apps such as QuickFile.

“It’s important to be careful with spending - don’t spend where you don’t need to,” he says. “That’s where a bank like Starling with instant notifications and no fees is very attractive for us.”

 Branchless banking

Being based in Ebbw Vale means that Mathew can offer pricing that is much more competitive thanks to lower rent than big cities. However, all four bank branches near him were recently closed and so he’s now a 30 minute drive from the nearest branch. For Mathew, branchless, mobile banking with Starling is ideal.

He came across Starling while looking for alternatives to his old bank: “I found traditional banks so backwards, complicated and basic. It got to the point where I thought ‘why make it so difficult, managing my money should be easy’ and so I started looking around and something about Starling stood out to me,” he says.

“Opening an account only took a minute or two - it’s amazing,” he says. “Starling is a complete breath of fresh air. Even though Starling is as new as it is, it's miles ahead of other banks.”

Mathew Parker opens his Starling Bank app
Mathew Parker has a Starling Bank business account for his business Roseblade Media

He uses the Goals feature to ring fence money for tax bills coming up and as a rainy day fund, separate from his everyday balance.

Mathew is looking forward to growing the Roseblade Media team and discovering new technology to help clients. Find out more about Roseblade Media on their website.

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