Whether you have a creative streak, are good with numbers, or fancy yourself as an inventor, I am sure that there are many of you students who have considered setting up your own business during your university career. Gary Whelan and Calum McCoss are third year Osteopathy students who did just that by setting up CGTherapies in September 2013. By using skills gained from their degree and other qualifications*, they are able to provide professional sports massage therapy in order to treat a range of joint and muscle injuries. I asked them how they managed to set up their own independent business and for any advice they can give to aspiring businessmen and women.
(*A proactive training course at Birmingham University)
(Left: Calum McCoss. Right: Gary Whelan)
When did you two decide to partner up and set up your own business?
[Gary] We’ve been talking about it for the last year or so but we had to put it on hold until we received our qualification about 6 months ago.
[Calum] We thought we would start this business to give us an insight as to what it would be like to start up our own clinics for the future when we graduate. So far we’ve learnt far more than we expected, (laughs).
Was there anywhere in Swansea University that you went to for any advice?
[Gary] We asked our tutors who have their own private clinics outside of the university; their advice on marketing and getting yourself out there has been very helpful.
[Calum] We also have business modules throughout the year which gave us a basis of understanding about how to set up which was fundamental.
Have you come across any difficulties in the initial set-up of your business?
[Gary] We definitely underestimated the effort it takes to set up a business, let alone the financial investment you have to initially put in…hopefully we’ll see it back soon! (laughs)
[Calum] The time put into web designing and ease of navigation within the site was somewhat of a steep learning curve…so far no major catastrophes. We hope to keep it that way!
(As well as starting a promising business, Gary and Calum also had to deal with designing a logo and creating a brand for themselves).
It says on your website that the aim for you both is to provide an ‘individualised approach to treatment’. Could you expand on this?
[Calum] Yeah, sure. We use the principles of Osteopathic Medicine; looking at the body as a whole in regards to our treatment plans, which we feel stands us out from our competition. From our Osteopathic thinking we understand the musculoskeletal system is intricate and continuous throughout the body as ligaments, fascia, tendons and muscles which explains why when we treat, say, a shoulder problem we could look towards the neck, ribs, elbow and your back as they may all play a part.
What are your individual areas of interest within Osteopathy?
[Gary] Osteopathy as a whole is quite unknown especially regarding the wide variety of complaints we can treat; we aren’t just backs! (laughs). I’m Type 1 Diabetic and, at the moment, there is little evidence for effective treatments for potential complications, which is an area I’d like to investigate not just for diabetics but patients with similar symptoms.
[Calum] Personally, I find the theory of treating systemic diseases such as Hypertension, IBS, Osteoarthritis etc, very interesting and my dissertation is based around their treatment.
How much time do you invest into CGTherapies per week?
[Gary] The initial start-up was the most time consuming, but the time it took to register as a partnership was quick. It’s the advertising and promotion that takes time.
[Calum] Since all that though, just updating the website, Facebook page, Google+ page and checking emails has become a daily task. Sourcing clients takes time as it’s a competitive market in Swansea and we are newcomers.
Do you have any advice to other students who are thinking of starting up something similar alongside their degree?
[Gary] Well, in our eyes, we put it off for a while as I suppose we were a bit scared of how big a step it was going to be! But after talking to our tutors and local massage therapists it became a lot clearer as to where we should start so we could get things moving.
[Calum] Go for it! We don’t regret it! However, don’t underestimate the time and cost of set up that it takes. For us, we needed equipment, insurance, room rent and hosting costs for the website…none of which we took into consideration, stupidly. So we would just advise that you plan what you need to start up and work out the cost as it was a little bit of a shock initially.
Do you plan to take CGTherapies further once you both graduate?
[Gary] As of yet our partnership agreement is licenced indefinitely…but we haven’t had time to think past our last two years at uni in relation to sports massage when we will be qualified Osteopaths.
[Calum] I will always take the experiences of this partnership into my future as I’m sure Gary will too. For the time being we are looking to expand CGTherapies into Oban in Scotland where I’m from and Bristol for Gary. It’s exciting!
By Claire Mellor