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TJ Wheeler - JumpMAD

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During his first year of studying for a degree in Business Management, TJ Wheeler had an idea which would end up raising tens of thousands of pounds for charity. “I knew quite a lot of charities didn’t have time to fundraise because they were busy doing what charities do, so I tried to find a way to help them fundraise without using a lot of their time”, TJ explains. ‘Given I’d done skydiving in the past I decided to set up JumpMAD.”

JumpMAD helps to arrange sponsored skydiving events, with the proceeds going to charity. The business was set up not for profit, but simply to give charities a helping hand with their fundraising activities. TJ explains how JumpMAD helps: “Initially we’ll get in touch with the charities, and tell them we can do all the paperwork and generally holding their hands while they go through the process. So all the charities have to do is put it through their own advertising or mail shots or websites, or send out an email to their contact list. We’ll do everything else and they’ll get a cheque at the end.”

Setting up the business was fairly straightforward, with start-up costs and overheads not a problem for TJ when getting the business off the ground. “All of it was self-funded. It was set up on a shoestring and run out of a bedroom”, TJ explains. “It was all run through the internet and phone calls, or going visiting, so I didn’t need any offices or fixed costs associated with it.”

Even with the smooth start to the business, TJ says it was still useful to have Student Enterprise to turn to at the beginning. “There were plenty of seminars for me to go to, and I made good contacts with business mentors”, TJ says. “I was able to enter the Spark Business Idea 2009 award, which I won – I got a lot of prize money that I could invest. It was good to have support, and know that there was someone out there to help if I needed it.”

Since the business started in early 2006, TJ has seen his efforts pay off, and he admits that his biggest personal success has been “seeing it work, seeing it all put together - building the process, protocol and strategy from the ground up. It’s helped charities in the tens of thousands of pounds, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. It’s probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in terms of learning and excitement and seeing things come about which wouldn’t have otherwise happened. So that’s massively rewarding, but at the same time it’s a substantial amount of work.”

Unfortunately, since graduating, time constraints have meant that TJ can no longer dedicate as much time to JumpMAD as he would like to. “I’m working full-time now, which means I don’t have a lot of time to put into it’, TJ explains. ‘It has three part time staff at the moment, so they’re working away, but at the moment I’m expecting to close it down for a few years until I have the time to invest properly in it. It’s still a working business, but I’d prefer to be part of it rather than an acting team manager.” 
TJ is optimistic though that, when the time is right, JumpMAD will come back stronger than ever.  “I’m more than expectant that I can restart it at any time, as all the procedures etc. stay the same and it’s just a case of starting to pick up the phone again.”

TJ is currently considering the idea of franchising the business. If you are interested, please get in touch with Student Enterprise at:

Email: enterprise@cardiff.ac.uk

Tel: 02920 781442/419

More information on JumpMAD can be found at:

www.jumpmad.co.uk