Entrepreneurship in engineering An Institution of Engineering and Technology case study
Page 5: A young entrepreneur's story
Matt Wilson is an engineer, an entrepreneur and regards himself as a pioneer in cloud based communications. His tale is one of rags to riches. At sixteen years old he had no job and £100 in his pocket. Today at 34, he is a chartered engineer, an IET Fellow and Chief Executive of his own highly successful business: Crosby Communications PLC. Matt started a disco agency at the age of twelve. He funded it by washing cars in his neighbourhood. It was a real success and at fifteen he was interviewed on local BBC radio as a ‘budding entrepreneur that would go places’.
He had a keen interest in electronics and the entrepreneur in him enjoyed hunting out and fixing old TVs and radios which he sold through his local newspaper. After finishing school Matt became unemployed. His dad convinced him to use his interest in electronics to take an apprenticeship in electrical engineering. At the same time Matt set up the small company that was to become Crosby Communications PLC.
‘I started the business whilst doing an apprenticeship, doing odd jobs such as fitting telephone systems into offices. During the day I went to college to learn theory. This was coupled with placements in companies where I learned how to install electrical systems. I didn’t start trading officially until I was 18, building the business up on a part-time basis.’ Matt
The toughest challenge Matt faced was getting the finance he needed to get the business off the ground. He continued with his DJ work to save money to fund the new company. Once he had raised the cash he needed, Matt was able to concentrate on the voice, data and video business of Crosby Communication. He continued to grow the business, branching into other areas to spread the risks. Once established, Matt turned his attention towards self-development, seeking to get himself and the company recognised for the technical abilities that he and it possessed. To gain this recognition he joined the IET and in the summer of 2010 Matt achieved IET Fellow status.
‘I joined IET in 2007 because I wanted to be part of an important institution that is not solely academic. The IET is made up of engineers, real people with hands on experience in engineering. Becoming a Fellow helped me to further my career and become involved in committees whose policies affect the engineering industry. This commands a lot of respect. My customers also recognise the quality of my work because I have achieved Fellow status.’ Matt
Matt is now an active member of the IET, working on local committees and mentoring a number of new engineers in his area. He is an IET Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Ambassador, going to schools to get children interested in STEM subjects. There is a huge demand from business of all sizes, across the UK and overseas, for people with good maths and science qualifications and the practical ability to apply those skills as professional engineers and technicians. Many of the IET’s members are involved with programmes led or supported by the IET to make young people aware of the careers available to them in the engineering sector. They also help to get students participating in activities that will get them excited about technology and give them some of the practical experience valued by universities and employers, for example, FIRST LEGO League, F1 and 4x4 In Schools, Greenpower and Young Engineers Clubs.
‘From no money, no prospects and unemployed, I transformed my life with Crosby Communications PLC. I am proud because I’ve taken it from being a company worth £1 when I started, to now being worth millions in terms of company valuation. This pride comes from putting the time in and seeing that all the stress and hassle was worth it in the end. I am the first to be doing telecoms in the cloud – which uses my joint skills of engineering and the commercial experience/application’ Matt
Institution of Engineering and Technology | Entrepreneurship in engineering