One of the UK’s brightest graduate entrepreneurs is enhancing his business model with the help of mentoring guidance from Lloyds Banking Group.
Tom Anderson-Dixon, founder and managing director of Squash Stix, came up with the idea for his innovative individual portions of cordial during his work placement at Marks and Spencer, after noticing employees were bringing in large bottles of cordial to make one drink.
After completing his degree in Business Enterprise at the University of West England and securing initial investment from his parents, Tom launched his business in 2011. After growing the business further and winning significant contracts with leading distributors such as Staples, Tom decided to put himself forward for the 2013 Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards where he won the South West regional heats for Best Start Up.
Tom said: “I always imagined that I would eventually run my own business and knew that studying business enterprise at university would give me practical and relevant experience to prepare me for this. During my work placement, I noticed how many employees were having to bring in big bottles of cordial just to make one drink – I knew there had to be an easier and quicker way of doing this and so my business was born.”
As well as a prize of £1,000 to invest into Squash Stix, Tom’s win at the Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards also saw him scoop a one-year mentoring programme with an industry professional from within the bank to help with the development of his business plan.
Tom was partnered with Charles Major, who works in pan-group business delivery at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, and through a series of regular meetings the pair have been working together to spot new opportunities to help Squash Stix grow and develop.
Speaking about the mentoring relationship, Tom said: “Running a graduate business isn’t easy, and even though my degree helped me build up a lot of knowledge, there are still so many new things I am learning on a daily basis.
Charles acts as a brilliant sounding board for new ideas, and having an impartial and objective opinion is incredibly useful.
“As well as working on new ideas with me, Charles is also supporting the development of a marketing strategy which will help create a strong brand image for Squash Stix and further our exposure and reputation. I would certainly recommend enterprise mentoring to other aspiring entrepreneurs out there. It is a great way to help keep your business fresh and innovative as well as learn from the experience of others.”
Charles Major added: “For me, mentoring is a brilliant opportunity to step out of my day job and immerse myself in an exciting, young company. I really enjoy hearing all of Tom’s new ideas and it is extremely rewarding to help him shape and refine these through my own experiences.
“Tom is a very passionate and dedicated businessman and as soon as I met him it was obvious that he had the drive and ambition to make Squash Stix a huge success. He is a fantastic example of someone who has come up with a unique and innovative idea for a business that provides an incredibly useful product solution. It is such a pleasure to work alongside him and see his business really take off.”