Entrepreneur who escaped the grip of despair

THREE years ago, 16-year-old Luke Taylor was desperately searching for a place to call home.

He could easily have become just another rootless teenager, drifting from sofa to sofa, with no hope of taking the first steps on the career ladder.

Today, he’s running an events company which is on course to earn £75,000 this year, and his entrepreneurial flair is providing work for waiters and fire eaters. Mr Taylor wants to provide hope to jobless youngsters who might drift into a twilight world of drugs and crime. He hasn’t forgotten the day he thought he might become homeless.

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He recalled: “The housemates I was living with were moving on, and I had a week to find somewhere to live.”

He didn’t have the cash to pay the rent for another property, so he had to act quickly.

“My first move was to go for interviews and apply for as many jobs as possible,’’ said Mr Taylor, who lives in Leeds. “It was when the recession had just started. But why would anyone want to give a 16-year-old a job, when there was a 32-year-old available who has been doing the job for a long time? I kept applying, and one day I got two calls – one from Starbucks, with the chance to be a barista and one from Q Hotels head office. I decided on Q Hotels for the simple reason that it was closer.”

After a period working in a call centre with Q Hotels, he got a job in room sales at the Queens Hotel in Leeds. After a stint working at the Doubletree by Hilton, he decided it was time to branch out on his own.

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“I was researching on the internet for people who might want to invest in businesses,’’ he said. “I researched business plans for ages and got tips on how to write it.”

With backing from a private investor, he’s established Luke Taylor Events, which has secured a number of clients including the Elect Club, a networking group, in Leeds.

Mr Taylor said: “Being nearly homeless was very difficult, but I had to battle through it. You have two paths to choose. You could take drugs and ruin your life, or you can choose the positive path and channel all that energy into making something positive.

“I have one permanent members of staff, and employ other people on an ad hoc basis. For any single event I can employ upwards of 15 people, from waitresses to bar tenders and fire eaters.

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“Youth unemployment is a huge problem in the UK. There is too much negative publicity about teenagers, which in turn makes them demoralised and leads to an increase in crime.”

Caron Munro, the managing director of the Elect Club, said: “At 19, I detected a hunger and survival instinct in him that many young people do not have.”