This month in-Cumbria is profiling some of the county’s young entrepreneurs, top employees and stars of the future. Luke Eilbeck has set up his business, Mad4Kit Football Shirts, in Silloth 

Tell us about your business/job… 

At Mad4Kit we specialise in selling retro football memorabilia at an affordable price. We stock a wide range of authentic shirts, training wear and matchworn items from English and European league sides, as well as national teams. We also offer a variety of services upon request such as ‘mystery box’ group orders for holidays or festivals, as well as our shirt exchange where you can trade your unwanted kits for cash or store credit. You can follow us on Twitter and Instagram @mad4kit for regular updates about new stock landing on our Vinted store and upcoming event appearances. 

When did you start in the role/set up the business? 

We launched in August 2022 and are fast approaching a full year of trading, over which we have managed to grow operations from three sales in the first month to fulfilling over 150 orders to date. Since joining the Positive Enterprise Programme in February, we’ve seen rapid development across the entire business, being able to attend our first in-person event at the Teenage Market in Carlisle as well as receiving both online and radio coverage. 

How does being a young person impact on your work?

Whilst I’d definitely say there’s more positives than negatives to starting a business as a young person, it can be difficult when you’ve got other commitments to focus on. With studying for my A-Level exams I quickly began to appreciate the importance of time management and having to let Mad4Kit take a backseat at times to prioritise revision. At the same time, starting young without any pressure to succeed has given me the chance to be experimental and take risks I wouldn’t have considered with more on the line, which has undoubtedly helped the business to grow. 

Where/how have you learnt your skills?

The skills sessions put on by the CforLP at Lakes College have been great for helping me with practical skills such as budgeting, marketing and overall business planning, but besides the support offered by the programme it has mainly been a case of trial and error to discover what works best for Mad4Kit. I took business studies at A-Level which also gave me a decent understanding of how to get started, but I don’t think there’s any hard and fast method to learning that’s better than getting hands-on experience and facing each challenge as it comes. 

What motivates you in your working life? 

The main thing driving me on with Mad4Kit is that there is always room for improvement, and that there’ll always be something for me to work on as long as I wish to keep the business going. Seeing the results of my work so far is a great marker for future growth, and every sale is an opportunity to refine my skills and better the experience for our valued customers. 

What are your ambitions - both in work and life? 

Having interned at JP Morgan the past two summers, I’m keen to move to London once I’ve been to university and pursue a career in the financial sector, either as a trader or an investment banker. The overall plan is to remain in the business world either after or alongside my career, ideally still in the football or wider sports industry. The biggest life goal of mine is to make enough money to buy Carlisle United and take them to the Premier League, but I’m definitely quite a few years off that yet. 

Who do you admire in the business world? 

My biggest business inspiration is probably former Apprentice contestant Tom Skinner. I’m a great admirer of his get-up-and-go attitude, and how he has grafted his way up from a market trader to working with famous businesspeople like Alan Sugar. 

Do you have a role model? 

My grandad is definitely one of the biggest role models in my life. He was disabled in a car accident 36 years ago, and has defied the odds to be able to walk and talk again. Seeing him get up in the morning and lead as normal a life as possible is what gives me the inspiration to put 110 per cent into my business endeavours. 

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years' time? 

My plan for the future is to pursue my career goals in the financial sector whilst continuing to run a successful business. In 10 years’ time, I will have hopefully been to university and made enough money to focus on becoming a full-time entrepreneur, at which point I’d want to move back to Cumbria and start to properly scale up a business of my own. 

What would your advice be to other young people setting out on their career? 

The best piece of advice I could give anyone in a similar position to myself is to step out of your comfort zone and take whatever opportunities come your way. When I got my GCSE results two years ago I was going to sixth form with no idea of what I wanted to do as a career, but from making the most of the chances given to me I’ve been able to secure the funding to build my own business and worked at the world’s largest investment bank. Putting a bit of effort in to build skills and networks at a young age can certainly open lots of doors in the long run from a careers perspective.