My Inspiration: Jeremy Baird
Managing director of Managemint Ltd, a property lettings and management agency based in Stranmillis
As a student on the North Coast in 2007, I often thought about setting up my own business, as I didn't like the idea of entering the corporate world.
Like all students I rented accommodation so I thought I could let and manage property too - and offer a better level of customer service than many landlords or agents.
The next step was how to get noticed? I was working part-time as a doorman at one of the night-clubs so I got a stamp made with the company website address www.managemint.co.uk and when people came into the club they got two stamps, one of which marketed my business. From then things really took off and I moved the business to Belfast in 2008, opening an office in Stranmillis.
Three years later I have opened a second office in Lurgan catering, in both locations, to the large rental market. With the property boom and bust, I also realised that longevity was going to be key in this industry and that central to this is building the company's reputation.
In terms of Managemint we are a young company and I've employed and nurtured other young people. I also see the business as being fun, so I've pitched to companies such as Harcourt Developments and I now handle most of the lettings for HBO and Citigroup, for example. Other profile properties I've let have been the first completely environmentally friendly property in Holywood and properties in Gosford Castle.
Given the negativities surrounding the property market, I didn't anticipate winning Best Young Business Person at the recent Belfast Business Awards. I had entered other Business Awards and was highly recommended, but I was realistic about my chances. I think the judges liked the fact that I mentor other young people and that I give talks to schools and earlier this year I gave a presentation to business students at St Louise's on the Falls Road on being an entrepreneur. I'm not sure if I would use the word inspired, but I have received mentoring from Robert Wilson who has been on hand for help and advice and I've also enjoyed listening to Eric Cairns and his experiences. These people have been in the business for a long-time.
I want to build the company across Northern Ireland and then potentially move into venture capital and invest in other new and promising people.