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.”