Founders Series: Alan Clark, Managing Director of Take Your Marks Ltd

Alan Clark
Alan Clark

What does your company do?

We provide online wellbeing resources to education and business organisations.

What do you do there / what is your role?

Managing Director

What is your background?

I originally trained as a PE teacher and have worked in Sport, Physical Activity and PE for over 25 years.

If you started the company, what was the aha moment that led to the company founding?

I was sitting discussing the lack of support in Physical activity and PE for primary teachers with my co-founder and we thought we could offer a usable solution for them. 

Why did you launch the company?

We want to make a difference in the health of our country.

Where did you get assistance when you started?

Other founders.

Give us a brief history of the growth of the company

Incorporated in Feb 17. Trading started in March 18. 1st sales in May 18. 30 sales by April 19. Expansion into England and the US May 19.

Have you taken any external funding? If so from who and when?

RSE Unlocking Ambition Funding from July 18 – June 19

So what does it look like now with regard to staff and turnover?

1 FT Employee, 1 intern. Turnover in year 1 – £45k

What’s the difference between when you started and now in your marketplace?

Our marketplace has grown from schools into the corporate and care sectors. We have also grown in the schools sector to include early years and secondary education.

What are your goals for your business?

We want to be the market leader in school and care physical activity resources in Scotland. In addition we want to have a significant market share for wellbeing resources in Scottish SMEs 

During the RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship, what have been the biggest successes you have achieved and the biggest challenges you have faced?

Our biggest success has undoubtedly been our impact in the schools sector: we now supply licences to 30 schools across the country, giving over 6,000 children the chance to use our resources on a weekly basis. 

The biggest challenge for the company has been really understanding what it is we offer and directing our resources accordingly. Over the course of the past year, we have tested several different projects within a number of markets. However, it has become clear that without scaling the business, there simply is not the resource to expand the way we would like to. 

What do you do outside work?

I have 2 teenage children so I drive them around. I also coach Perthshire RFC 1st XV to retain sanity!

What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier?

How great it is not to work for somebody else. Everything I do is my choice so I stand and fall on my own decisions.

What’s the secret to good leadership?

Connecting with people and knowing that other people are better than you at almost everything.

What are your ambitions for your company?

Before I began the RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship, the company was purely focused on the education sector in Scotland, with the view that the business could be scaled from there. Now, we are in the process of raising a first round of investment to grow the business into the Early Years, Education, Care and Corporate sectors across the UK. We also expect to start raising a further round of investment within 18–24 months to expand into similar markets in the US. 

How can the scottish startup/entrepreneur landscape be improved to help more businesses start up and grow?

Start up is easy. Keeping going is a little harder. I’d like to see much more support for entrepreneurs in year 2, that’s when you know what your business actually is. 

What difference has the RSE Unlocking Ambition Enterprise Fellowship made to you and your business? 

Through the Fellowship, I have been part of a fantastic support network that has accelerated my learning exponentially. I feel much better equipped to run and plan the future of my business than I did 12 months ago. Additionally, the support I have received from my peers in the cohort has been, at times, more important that anything else. We have all been in the same boat – although at different stages and in different industries – and I have been supported by every one of them.

Alan Clark is Managing Director of Take Your Marks Ltd

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