Imagine: The economy’s in a slump. Youth unemployment is soaring. You’ve no idea where your next job will come from. In times like these, there can only be one solution – buy a crocodile.
Okay, it’s not going to work for everybody, but for Scott Adams it is set to take his fledgling business to the next level.
The young businessman who has spent the last two years taking his mobile zoo across the UK is hoping to set up a new wild animal education centre in Telford, having struggled to find himself a new job through traditional avenues.
He hopes to add crocodiles and piranhas to his collection of hundreds of weird and wonderful animals having established a community interest company to use his menagerie to educate youngsters.
He is now going through the process of obtaining planning permission and licences to set up his new venture in Bradley Road, St George’s, after receiving support from the Prince’s Trust.
“When I first set up the business I was launching was a mobile zoo going to schools and organisations teaching aspects of the science curriculum,” he said.
“I was enjoying working with the community, and decided it was time to grow the business so I have registered as a CIC in Telford to work with schools and hard-to-reach people, and have taken on premises with a classroom and indoor rainforest, and will be offering lessons with the animals.
“We’re about halfway through the licensing at the moment so it’s all subject to change but it will see our range grow.”
Mr Adams’ love of exotic animals began when he got a corn snake aged 15, and his collection has since grown to incorporate everything from 10-foot anacondas to giant hissing cockroaches.
Since launching his business he has headed overseas to work with animals such as tigers and crocodiles. He has around 40 different species – and a very tolerant partner, Verity. He added: “My partner is quite supportive, as she is into animals herself.”
The zoo was first launched when Mr Adams was facing unemployment. Having wandered between various short-term jobs, he found himself disheartened by the struggle to find permanent work.
At the beginning of 2010 Mr Adams approached The Prince’s Trust with his business idea and took part in the Enterprise Programme.
He had an idea of running a mobile zoo that provided educational sessions based on the national curriculum to local schools, with animals such as snakes, lizards, tarantulas and other beasts.
Mr Adams pitched his business and received £2,000 and a dedicated business mentor from The Trust to help get Exotic Zoo off the ground. The business took off straight away and he began to provide sessions for children’s parties too.
He now hopes to see the CIC turn over £40,000 next year. He said: “I’d always had a passion for animals so I started to think of ways I could earn a living this way. I started to realise that I could miss out on the difficulties the recession seemed to be causing people and create my own job.
“I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do it without my mentor from The Prince’s Trust. If someone had told me three years ago that I’d be running a successful business and doing something every day that I love – I wouldn’t have believed them.
The Prince’s Trust is encouraging unemployed young people to consider self-employment through its new A-Z of Young Businesses.
- The Prince’s Trust & RBS A-Z of Young Businesses is being released daily on The Prince’s Trust Facebook page. Visit facebook.com/princestrust or princes-trust.org.uk7
By Thom Kennedy