Alex Gwynne (AG PaperToys) Profile

©BiGYEC

AG paper Toys is a graphic design and paper engineering company.  I originally got into paper toys as part of my GCSE Art project. It became a passion and I’ve been in business almost 2 years now.

I’m in it to get my work out there and to be taken seriously as a designer. That involves making money but I still give away a lot of my work for free, because I think that’s important. I see myself as a designer first and foremost, but paper dinosaurs are more fun than normal design work.

How did you get involved with the BiGYEC?

My business mentor at The Sheffield College Enterprise gateway asked if I wanted to be involved and I jumped at the opportunity. The thing that impresses me about the club is that I get to meet other people around my age who can actually understand and relate to the experience of running a business. That’s important because it’s a bit awkward talking to my other friends about what I do.

What’s it been like?

Time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve seen small business start to grow and I’ve made friends and contacts that I’m going to have for a long time. I can go to them when I have an idea and say “hey what do you think about this”. I can also pass on my knowledge to younger club members.

The best thing about the BiGYEC is that it doesn’t feel like a business club – you don’t have to wear a suit and tie! It’s friendly, interesting, and interactive, and you get to meet interesting people and find out lots. That’s what keeps me coming back.

What’s next for your business?

My overall ambition is to have a huge successful business. In the meanwhile I think it’s important to have small aims to work towards. I’m starting to get a lot of commissions, so hopefully I’ll start making a high enough income to get an office.

What’s out there after the BiGYEC?

Investors are everywhere. There’s free knowledge on the internet. Learn everything you can and read every business book you can. Find people with similar circles and with that will come similar investors and similar opportunities.

How can young people turn hobbies/interests into a career?

Think BiG. Research and think about where you interests could take you. Every project I do starts with lots of research. If you can see the potential in something that nobody else can see, you’re onto a winning idea.

What advice would you give young people thinking about starting a business?

Be patient! Create a bit of a following around your work. Websites like Facebook can be useful, but if you have a good reputation, customers will come to you without you having to find them. It’s also important to have a product/service that’s adaptable and can change with the times.

Know what you’re talking about and know that people often promise what they can’t deliver. Also, copyright everything you can, even if it’s just emailing it to yourself. Lastly, if you’re not passionate about something then don’t do it as a job!

Where can teenagers learn about things like copyrighting, managing finances, etc.?

Obviously the BiG Young Entrepreneurs Club is a good starting point if you’re in Sheffield. Also, Google has taught me a lot. Admittedly, not everything you find through Google is correct but if you read enough, you’ll find what’s right and what isn’t.

What’s the scariest thing about running your own business?

Being your own boss means that everyone else in the world is your boss, and that’s scary. Keeping your accounts is horrible – I hate that. Also, if you get a big business taking you on, that can be very scary.

Do young people need to go to college/university to succeed in business?

It largely depends what your business is, but I don’t think you need to. A University Education is brilliant but I wouldn’t necessarily say you need it to succeed in business. If you’re passionate about what you do, have done your research, and you believe that you’re onto a good idea then you’ll make sure that you learn whatever it is that you need to learn. The world is your oyster.