Coventry entrepreneur Jack Knowles, 24, tells Shelley Marsden why bad grades at school didn’t stand in his way…
Suave Midlander Jack Knowles, whose mother is from Dublin, is one of the UK’s most successful young businessmen. He is the man behind cyber dating venture Complete Dating (http://completedating.co.uk has over 300,000 members),
One aspects to the matchmaker’s company is a sister site called DatingBeyond, which allows celebrities to launch their own dating websites. His latest recruit is Only Way Is Essex star Mario Falcone, who launched the interestingly named site MatingwithMario a matter of days ago. It has already attracted a few thousand members.
“The first person we got on board was Chantelle Houston, who launched a site to help single mums find love (datewithchantelle.com). From there, interested started to come from other celebs. Mario had seen the success of Chantelle’s site and said he wanted to launch something similar, so here we are. It’s a dating site for young singles, and it’s totally free to join. Oh and the name, by the way, was Mario’s idea!”
Jack, who says he’s close to making his first million, founded Complete Dating from his bedroom when he was just 19 years old. He said: “I worked at a sports shop to earn enough capital to launch my own company. Then I set up the site just a few months after leaving college. I always knew I’d do something by myself.”
He decided to start up a business after receiving disappointing GCSE grades at high school: “I ended up going to college and studying business for three years, which really decided my path for me.”
Jack has the full backing of dad Michael and mum, Dubliner Sandy, even though, he says, they are from a generation where dating had nothing to do with clicking a mouse.
Why dating though; it’s a saturated market? “There’s competition, but it’s a huge market to go into, and adding the celebrity element to it is something a bit different. Everybody’s online now, so for online dating the sky’s the limit. It’s lost any stigma it might have once had. Also, joining and using our website is really simple.”
Jack, who has also established the successful company servicepals.com, has a piece of advice for young people with entrepreneurial spirit: “If there are kids out there who’ve recently got their GCSE or A-Level results and are disappointed, don’t be discouraged. If you’ve a business plan in your head, keep to it, stay focused, take a calculated risk and go for it. I did, and I haven’t done too badly!”
More than ever before, starting a business is being promoted as a viable career option for young people, though statistically speaking young people in the UK are more likely to consider starting up as a sideline venture or something to do later in life.
Recent figures quoted on startup.co.uk show the highest qualification held by owner managers tends to be A Level or equivalent (29.4%) followed by a degree or equivalent (21.8%). A significant minority of owner managers – 11% – has no educational qualifications whatsoever.