60-second start-up: Living the Dream

60-second start-up: Living the DreamThursday, October 20, 2011 by Mike

Performing arts company Living the Dream, proves a lack of experience is no barrier to starting your own business. Launched by ambitious 16 year-old Zoe Jackson as a way of subsidising her course fees for the National Youth Theatre, the venture has now blossomed into a thriving business. One even Sir Richard Branson is excited about. The tycoon has chosen Jackson as one of three Virgin Media Pioneers who will represent the interests of young entrepreneurs in Virgin's new Control Shift campaign.

0-5 seconds: Sum your business up in a sentence

Living the Dream is a Performing Arts Company run by young people for young people, which I set up in 2006 at the age of 16.

5-10 seconds: What's the business model?

Living the Dream has a school of performing arts, a professional dance company, a media company, a dancewear range and a community branch to make the difference to young people's lives through the arts. We're also in the process of setting up a talent agency and have launched a Dance App for Virgin Media's TiVo service.

10-15 seconds: Who are your competitors?

We have many competitors in several industries, but feel it's more important to always chase the dream, not the competition.

15-20 seconds: What's your USP?

Living the Dream is run by young people, for young people, it provides affordable access to the arts, showcases young talent and gives a platform for young people to express themselves and grow in confidence.

20-25 seconds: How have you funded it so far?

Living the Dream received funding from the Hertfordshire Council from 2008-2010 but this has ended due to government cuts. We are now in the process of gaining sponsorship for our community campaign and for growth and expansion of Living the Dream.

25-30 seconds: What were you doing before?

I set up Living the Dream when I was 16, so before this, I was at school.

30-35 seconds: Where did the idea come from?

I saw a gap in the market for affordable access to the arts and something that was youth led. I got into the National Youth Theatre and couldn't afford the course fees so put on a showcase as a fundraiser. Then I realised I had a viable business idea that I put into action.

35-40 seconds: What's the smartest thing you've done so far?

I think the smartest thing I've done is to continually believe that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Everything I have dreamed of achieving has been successful so far.

40-45 seconds: What's the stupidest?

Living the Dream started as friends and developed into business. Distinguishing between these two relationships has been difficult and I have made some mistakes.

45-50 seconds: If your business was a biscuit, what would it be?

An Oreo! No explanation needed, just the best kind.

50-55 seconds: Which idea are you a bit jealous of?

I don't really get jealous of people's ideas, just their success.

55-60 seconds: Where are you going to be in 12 months' time?

Living the Dream will have grown and expanded its school of performing arts, dancewear range, professional dance company, media company and talent agency.

We will also have a major sponsor for our community campaign 'What If We Could Make the Difference' and our Dance App on Virgin Media's TiVo would be a huge success.

We would then be in the process of setting up performing arts centres across the UK and on our way to building an empire!

For more information about Living The Dream Company click here

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