Kieran Aitken.

What is your business called?

Orbit Enterprise Education Ltd (Orbit for short).

Where is it based?

We’re based in Glasgow but operate across the UK in Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, and London. By December 2019, we will have expanded to Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle, Cardiff and Belfast.

What does it produce?

Orbit works with 16-19-year olds across the UK providing a comprehensive accelerator programme which helps them launch their own businesses and secure jobs.

The 12-month programme includes mentoring, workshops, online training courses, and access to billionaire entrepreneurs. With this support, Orbiteers are building six-figure businesses and securing jobs in fast-moving industries such as Artificial Intelligence and Digital Marketing.

To whom does it sell?

Orbit is a Social Enterprise, and we’ve adopted a unique commercial model that funds our work. Each Orbiteer is responsible for securing £1,000 in sponsorship from two local businesses for their place on the programme.

What is its turnover?

Orbit is projecting to secure £1 million in sponsorship contracts in 2019. As the sponsorship contracts are paid over a three-year period, we’ll earn £330,000 from the contracts this year,.

All our income is reinvested back into the programmes, and we have asset locks and wage caps in place to ensure that the money is being spent nurturing and developing our Orbiteers.

How many employees?

Four in our core team plus five regional managers and over 40 volunteer business mentors.

When was it formed?

Orbit was incorporated in December 2015.

Why did you take the plunge?

I was inspired by Josh Littlejohn MBE (SocialBite), David Duke MBE (Street Soccer Scotland), and Alan Mahon (BrewGooder) who are pioneers of the Social Enterprise model in Scotland. These entrepreneurs have built profitable businesses which visibly make a difference in the process.

I saw a large gap in the school system, which didn't seem to be suited to the individual needs of many pupils. I knew there were better ways to train young people and decided to take the plunge and launch Orbit.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I launched Orbit when I was 18 but started my first business, a car valeting company, when I was 16. This generated a healthy turnover and profit margin which helped finance Orbit in the early days until we began securing sales.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I didn’t have many connections to investors when I launched Orbit, and the business was too premature to raise debt financing from traditional banks and financiers.

When I was 17, I made a target list of the most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders in Scotland, including Sir Tom Hunter. I took a day off school and hid for two hours behind his car at a factory visit he was doing, then pitched the idea for Orbit to him in the car park.

He got behind us by providing seed capital and introductions to some of the UK’s largest organisations, including RBS, which got Orbit off the ground. But I still needed additional funds to expand the business, so applied for a £7,000 from DSL Business Finance, a not-for-profit alternative finance provider for Scottish SMEs.

The loan from DSL completely transformed Orbit and allowed me to expand our programmes to three new locations across the UK and widen our offering to reach a total of over 400 young people helping 60 businesses start..

What was your biggest break?

In 2017 we secured £10,000 in financing from Scottish EDGE, and I won Young Entrepreneur of the Year from both the Great British Entrepreneur Awards (GBEA) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

This was the catalyst for being invited to speak at multiple black-tie dinners, often sharing a stage with leading politicians, such as Ruth Davidson MSP,. The business continued to grow as a result of its raised profile, and we were able to relocate to an office in Glasgow city centre which is easily accessible for young people.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Meeting Orbiteers across the country who are bursting with energy, enthusiasm and passion will always be the most inspiring part of our work. Young people’s businesses range from supporting fellow young adults living with cerebral palsy and autism to online gaming, restaurants and interior design among others.

What do you least enjoy?

I like and loathe the travelling up and down the country. On a given month, I’ll spend time in all of our locations across the UK .

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To support 1,000 Orbiteers from 100 schools across 10 UK cities by the end of 2019.

What could the Scottish government do that would help?

Have stronger enforcement of the 30-day payment terms policy to combat cashflow issues. If this was implemented, businesses would require less debt financing which would increase the attraction of working with businesses in all sectors.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Sensitise everything. When we complete sales and cash-flow projections, we also go through a sensitivity analysis .

How do you relax?

By going out with friends, running or enjoying a good book, I’m currently reading Making Globalisation Work by Joseph Stiglitz.