Jamie Dunn

Few young people are as focused, ambitious and determined as 20-year-old Jamie Dunn. Yet the immensely likeable entrepreneur is one of those people you really want to succeed, writes Ashleigh Morgan

Despite achieving farmore in his first 20 years thanmost ever will, JamieDunn is a refreshinglymodest and down to earth character. ForDunn, entrepreneurial flair emerged at age 12 when he packed his school bag with CDs and computer games and sold themto his fellow pupils. By age 15, he had fivemarket stalls across Birminghamwith familymembers working for him, earning around £500 profit per week. And at 16, he joined the Peter JonesNational Enterprise Academy where he built on his enterprise skills and learnt the importance of networking.Dunn then wrote a mentoring course for teenagers in order to address the “skills deficit” among young people, which concerns many employers. “It was not only what young people wanted and needed butmore importantly, what potential employers needed, to see fromthemin terms of skills for employment. Imatched young people tomentors fromorganisations to develop their employability skills while I focused upon helping themto develop and set up enterprises.”

MADE BY YOUNG PEOPLE

 As co-founder and MD of Made by Young People (MBYP), Dunn created a business that made a difference to young people and their futures. He says: “I co-founded MBYP for two reasons; to establish a business with potential growth and develop enterprise skills in young people without relying upon government funding.” About 80 per cent of the staff were aged under 23 and spent their time producing and supplying promotional goods. The business worked with over 30,000 young people across 10 countries and produced revenues of six figures. After two years Dunn stepped down from the company to move on to his next project – The A Fund. He is chair of the organisation and is hugely proud to be involved in a project which will benefit his home city. “The A Fund is a £10 million investment fund and is there for young people to set up enterprises. Birmingham has one of the youngest populations in Europe; we are going to turn it into the place for young people to start businesses.”

STARTS AND STALLS

 It hasn’t all been plain sailing for the budding entrepreneur as being young and trying to make it in business can be tough, he says. “When I started out it was very difficult. I remember an occasion while running my stall when somebody bought something but wouldn’t actually give me the money as they didn’t believe it was my stall.” However despite the odd knock back and tricky moment, Dunn enjoys the feeling of beating the odds. “People underestimate you and this is highly motivating, especially when starting out. Young business people also have the opportunity to learn quicker and have some further technology at their disposal and use. If you’re a young person starting out, there are far more advantages than there are disadvantages.”

ENTERPRISES

 When talk turns to the number of young people currently out of work, Dunn recommends that more should consider setting up their own enterprises. “If you want to start a business; get your idea, know your market, surround yourself with the right people and get going.” However, he also thinks that young people need to think harder about how they market themselves. “Think about what makes you more employable than anyone else. Attend networking events, volunteer in your chosen field and do anything you can to up-skill yourself.”

BREAKING THROUGH

 The great thing about Jamie is that he comes across as someone who refuses to be pigeon holed. He’s certainly broken through the barriers of prejudice concerning young business people and he’s willing to turn his hand to any craft that interests him. When asked about his plans for his future career, he enthusiastically admits: “I will also be launching a new venture in the coming months. I have no idea what it is going to be yet, but that’s the most exciting thing – it could be telecoms right through to a food product.”