Whilst listening to the introduction of the WBC ‘Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Event’, one thing came to my mind: Ketan Makwana is crazy! There, I said it. He said it. His ex-employer said it. Upon being made redundant in 2009 from the medical industry, he did the one thing no sane person would do: he asked for a job from the same man who, 24 hours earlier, had fired him.
Ketan, a Kingston University drop-out (due to “DJing, girls and booze”) had come a long way from working as a Sales Assistant in McDonalds; to Tesco shelf-stacking, to a brief stint as a mail-order clerk at an IT company, to finally working at a medical company in 2005, that specialised in gynaecology and obstetrics. He worked at this establishment for four years, whilst studying pharmacology. Later, he was promoted to a managerial position. In 2009, as a line manager he received the news that many in
the NHS received: It is over. Au revoir. Adios. Bye!
People deal with the shock of redundancy in many different ways: Some drown their sorrows; some get angry; but Ketan Makwana? He asked for his old job back. At this point, all became clear, as 38 year old Makwana explained that he saw his redundancy as an opportunity, and started Ketan Makwana Consulting LTD - acquiring contracts from the NHS to fill the voids left by recent redundancies. In a single year, he acquired £500,000 worth of new contracts, before selling the company for £150,000 a mere 6 months before the same market imploded.
By this point, I am thinking – so what? An unlikely entrepreneur caught a lucky break, right? Wrong. Mr. Makwana used the momentum from his success to start Medzooma.com, an online company specialising in the import of niche goods, such as
the supportive tape used by many sportsmen and women. Once again, he was approached by a buyer, and sold Medzooma.com. Now a serial entrepreneur in his own right, Makwana moved on to found EntrepriseLAB and Rockstar Youth, both platforms for entrepreneurs to seek training, mentoring and investment to “help bridge the gap between education and employment”. Through this, he also hosted “Youth Entrepreneurship Live”, a gargantuan event hosted at London’s Earl’s Court arena, gaining the attention of David Cameron, who wrote a letter of recommendation. In two days YEL gave away £750,000 of angel investment, 3000 apprenticeships and 300 jobs.
Ketan’s story highlights an important lesson that myself, and everyone else in the room, can learn: a man is only as strong as his network. Highlighting the importance of social networking site LinkedIn and offering advice such as “if you don’t like it, don’t do it”
Ketan’s talk was both empowering and inspiring. His adages ‘Vision & Passion” and “Passion Breeds Focus” are lessons to all business students, regardless of their aspirations to become entrepreneurs, or simply seek employment.
So there is a method to Ketan Makwana’s madness. And there’s lot to be learned from it, too.
By: Mr. Robert Mitson
WBC Senior Consultant