Lincolnshire's Michael Overton picked by Richard Branson for Virgin Media Pioneers programme
A budding entrepreneur has been handpicked by billionaire Richard Branson to encourage more Lincolnshire teenagers to start their own businesses.
Michael Overton, a 21-year-old from Welbourn, near Sleaford, has been chosen as an ambassador for the Virgin Media Pioneers programme.
He will now be responsible for mentoring fellow young entrepreneurs on how to bring money-making ideas and groundbreaking ventures to life.
Michael, who cites Sir Richard as one of his role models, runs his kitchen product business Sealsafe, which uses the latest "gecko" technology to create one size fits all lids for storage and cooking.
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He said young entrepreneurs hoping for success should expect to make errors along the way.
"As a young entrepreneur, you should expect to make every mistake in the book," he said.
"The key is to make a note of where things went wrong, then make another go of it.
"Young people spend thousands of pounds on degrees at university when business skills are sometimes best learned in the field.
"Even if you blow £500 researching, networking or making something only to find someone else has got there first – what does it matter?
"Get your priorities straight. Firstly, we are young so try everything at least once and become a more interesting person. Then, if you're lucky, you can make your millions further down the road.
"A good starting point for anyone thinking of setting up their own business is to become excellent at communicating with people and making friends in five minutes flat.
"Networking communities like Virgin Media Pioneers provide a great opportunity for this and it will help you throughout the process.
"See if you can get some experience at cold-selling too. Pick a solid company and a good product and work for someone else for a while knocking on doors or meeting people in the street.
"These were the most valuable jobs I did. I learned to deal with rejection and remain positive – it can even prove quite lucrative."
Virgin Media Pioneers acts as an online community for young entrepreneurs with around 4,000 members currently interacting.
As one of only 12 ambassadors chosen by Sir Richard in the country, Michael will be on hand to offer any advice to any budding Bransons-to-be throughout the county.
Of Virgin Media Pioneers, Sir Richard said: "There's a huge amount we can do to unlock entrepreneurial potential and this programme is empowering young entrepreneurs to fulfil their dreams of owning and managing successful businesses. Starting up your own business is a big challenge and many of the obstacles are daunting and, at times, can seem insurmountable.
"But with the right support and expert advice young entrepreneurs can find their way and Virgin Media Pioneers will be with them every step of the way."