New business ventures – time, commitment and a lot of hard work
After four years at Truro School, James finished Sixth Form in 2012 and left to travel Australia and South Africa, embark on an Atlantic yacht race and spend three months on the island of St Helena. After his travels he attended Southampton University to study oceanography.
Like many young people leaving university, the challenge of finding that first job is often a difficult step. What to do? Where to find an opportunity? Which career path to follow? James did not have any specific or set idea about his future:
At that time my only real aspiration was to try and be successful in whatever I did and with commitment and hard work, endeavour to reach a high level within the company I worked for.
James attended a careers fair where he met entrepreneur David Rubie Todd. David already had one successful business but had recently embarked on a new venture, a renewable energy company, Waverpower, endeavouring to harness the energy produced by waves, an area that James considered might suit his oceanographic background. He was invited to join the company in the summer of 2016 as a Commercial Graduate.
This was a difficult and competitive industry with offshore wind making huge steps in reducing the cost of energy. A difficult decision was made in early 2017 and Wavepower was closed. Having been impressed by James’s drive and work ethic, David asked him to join his original company, Kartdavid, a company which David had started in 2007 with his brother Michael, originally from a room in their parent’s house. Within a few years the company had moved to new offices in Bristol with a team of dedicated employees. Together they concentrated on growing the business further:
I joined Kartdavid in June 2017 looking to help David and Michael grow the company quickly. We invested a lot of money (£250,000) in state of the art print machinery and IT systems. This investment and a lot of hard work resulted in a growth of 60% in 2018, huge for a company of our size. Kartdavid has become one of the largest and most trusted suppliers of karting design and graphics in the world, a specialised but limited market. We are ambitious, eager to learn and want to continue to grow at this level year on year.
James is now CEO of Kartdavid but the young team of entrepreneurs haven’t stopped there. James is also cofounder of Stickerit. It soon became clear there was a wider market available for their product and hence Stickerit was created using the already considerable experience gained from the production and printing of beautiful and vibrant colours for the world’s best karting drivers, teams and manufacturers and bringing it to the mass market of custom stickers.
James told us: We have been printing graphics for 11 years now and have gained a wealth of knowledge. We want everyone to be able to order the highest quality custom stickers easily, with fast and reliable lead times, this is our primary objective at Stickerit. We often find that because something is custom, the quality drops or the service is terrible. We want to solve both of those problems. We constantly invest in improving our customers experience, with new production methods, ordering systems, product ranges and more to stay at the forefront of our industry. We now have some very high profile, large volume customers, as well as the individual who perhaps only require a small quantity of our product. Our client base is worldwide. We offer, free online proofing and shipping with a short five-day turnaround. Our clients can create their ideal personalised sticker with vivid colours and striking special finishes, including holographic and mirror effects.
This is a long way from Oceanography, demonstrating that work opportunities can often take you in a different, unexpected direction:
I definitely did not think I would be in the industry I am now, however, I wouldn’t change anything. I believe my interpersonal skills grew enormously due to my time at Truro School, which definitely helped me get to where I am today. Truro School taught me many things, resilience, dedication and loyalty to name a few. Much of this came from the sporting opportunities available. However, the fondest and proudest moment was probably speech day as Head Boy. Delivering a speech was not a position I would have normally put myself in, but I loved it and that definitely changed me as a person.
James is keen to remain a part of the Truro School Community and is eager to offer help to fellow alumni should an appropriate opportunity arise:
I am always happy to help the School, students and alumni where I can. The design and print industry is huge but maybe not one many students at TS are looking to develop within. It’s definitely not where I thought I would be, however with Stickerit growing rapidly I hope there may be an opportunity to provide placements in all business areas in the near future. This could be design, sales, marketing or even just an understanding of how small businesses work.
The McCabe family have been a part of the Truro School community now for nearly 11 years with James’ parents Stephen and Catherine still teaching at TS, Head of Maths and Head of First Year respectively. James siblings are also TS alumni; brother Christopher CO17 and sister Hannah CO15 are both currently studying at university.
And what of James future plans? Work hard and build a ‘best in class’ custom sticker brand.
We have a long way to go but the exciting part is the journey to get there!
We certainly wish James all the best with his exciting venture and hope he will take part in a new event we have planned for 2020 – the second of our networking events which will be held in Bristol – but more about that in the forthcoming Truronian magazine.