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Local success story proves inspiration for Ayrshire students!

A local success story is proving inspiration for hundreds of university students at a regional enterprise day taking place on Thursday 17th November at the Ayr Campus of the University of the West of Scotland (UWS)

The regional enterprise event, which will cover everything from sparking your idea to the practicalities of setting up your own business, licensing, marketing and achieving commercial success, is part of a month long programme of activities organised by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) to encourage, inspire and develop the spirit of enterprise among students at Scottish universities.

Giglets Ltd, which was formed in 2007 by students while they were in their sixth year at secondary school in Ayrshire, is one such example. Giglets Limited is an e-books publishing company of illustrated and adapted classics for children and adults. The innovative publishing company writes, illustrates and publishes their own educational books and other materials for children, by adapting classics to give them modern day appeal.

The original idea for Giglets was formed by school friends, Craig Johnstone and Tom Brodie-Browne while they were in their sixth year at Loudoun Academy, in Galston, Ayrshire. They left school to set up the business with six other students and their first adaptation was of Robert Burns’ epic, Tam O Shanter, featuring the adventures of Tam O’Haggis, a tartan bonnet wearing haggis, who like the original character, gets up to all sorts of adventures starting in Alloway. The illustrated book includes a read-along CD for very young or visually impaired readers, and supporting software including a teachers’ workbook.

The students went on to attend university and college and continued to run Giglets during their college and university studies with considerable success. Giglets sold 3500 books through commercial outlets and 4000 books to various schools around Scotland, local education authorities and other educational institutions.

According to Johnstone who is now 22 and living in Darvel in East Ayrshire, SIE were instrumental in Giglets success and continue to play an integral role in development of the company. “When I first contacted SIE for advice, I was in my first or second year at university and we were in the early stages of expansion. They provided important advice on that improved the efficiency and operational day to day running of our business. They also provided invaluable opportunities to meet other student entrepreneurs and benefit from listening to their experiences, which was an important network for me at the time. “I graduated in June but I continue to receive support from my SIE advisor, Liz Walsh, who is helping us with new business and fast tracking us into Scottish Enterprise high growth pipelines.”

Explaining his future plans for the business, Johnstone says he would like to increase the appeal of classic literature by broadening its consumer appeal. “We are increasingly looking towards literacy and language development and ways of making classic literature appeal to the majority. By end of March 2012 we will aim to have produced 30 e-books, contributing to one percent of new literature to the Scottish publishing market, which is quite an achievement. We also want to explore avenues where English is learned as a second language and just last week, we signed a contract with the Gaelic Book Council and an organisation called Storlann to put one of our ebooks into Gaelic, which they then will distribute to every pupil in Scotland receiving Gaelic education.”

Commenting SIE chief executive, Fiona Godsman said, “Giglets Ltd is a great example of the entrepreneurial talent that exists in our universities and colleges. These regional enterprise days are aimed at harnessing that enthusiasm and talent and providing opportunities and support that will inspire and encourage more young people like Craig Johnstone and his team, to become Scotland’s next generation of successful entrepreneurs.”

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