James Taylor, a graduate of the School of Psychology, established sports coaching company SportStars in February 2005 with help and support from the Universityís Research and Commercial Division. Since then, James and the company has won numerous awards including the Shell Live Wire Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006, and the HSBC Start-up and Natwest Community Impact awards in 2007
James Taylor with children at SportStars
Prior to going to university, I took a gap year in Uganda in which I taught at a local boarding school. Here, I discovered that the children had a large, unfilled interlude each afternoon and so I set up sports and arts clubs to occupy them. From then on I knew that child development and giving children great educational experiences such as self-esteem, confidence and leadership skills was the area I wanted to be in.
This led me to study Psychology at Cardiff University in 2000. As a young 19-year-old student I was ready to attack a new city and meet some great people. I have so many great memories, especially with the University football team on and off the pitch, and there is a very close student community and a fantastic studentsí union. Cardiff is also a great city; you have all the benefits of a buzzing city whilst at the same time having the luxury of beautiful beaches and countryside within close proximity.
After graduating from Cardiff with a degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education, I took a job as a sports coach at the LA Galaxy football club in America. With these coaching skills and the academic knowledge of child psychology I had gained at University, I came back to Cardiff with an idea of setting up a sports coaching company; a company which offers sports coaching for children during school holidays and provides cover for teachers during the compulsory planning, preparation and assessment work time. We would teach drama and sport at schools amongst 4-12 year olds to encourage self esteem, fitness and motivation.
With the help and support of Cardiff Universityís Research and Commercial Division, my idea was supported by an entrepreneur scholarship from the Knowledge Exploitation Fund, which gives higher education institutions the funding to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. In 2005, SportStars was created and three successful years later we have won a string of awards including the Shell Live Wire Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006 and SportStars has received the HSBC Start-up and Natwest Community Impact awards in 2007. We have offices in Cardiff, Bristol and Swansea and employ 90 staff. My full-time employees are either graduates of Cardiff University or the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, and my part-time staff are all undergraduates.
Over the years, my relationship with the University remains strong and Iím always more than happy to help with the Universityís enterprise campaigns to encourage fresh new entrepreneurship. My favorite Disney quote is: ďIf you can dream it, you can do itĒ and at SportStars, our weekly meetings begin with a ball game in the car park, followed by a high energy round up with lots of 'high fives', positive news and laughter.
If I hadnít have come to Cardiff University then who knows where Iíd be now. Iím happy with how itís all panned out. Cardiff University was what first attracted me to this great city, where I now have a great life and where I have based my business. Congratulations Cardiff University and may there be many successful years ahead, you are without doubt the rock of Welsh Higher Education.