The Art of the Side Hustle, with FP Maxwell McKay

Posted on 23rd Jun 2022 in Former Pupil, Stewart's Melville College

Do you dream of being your own boss before the age of 20? That’s the reality for Former Pupil, Maxwell Mckay, after he launched his tech business, G1gabyte, with another Former Pupil, Matthew Moore, back in March 2021. We caught up with Maxwell to find out how he balances his time between studying at Aberdeen University and growing a thriving tech business. He also shares his top tips for other budding entrepreneurs who are keen to get started…  

You've been busy since leaving ESMS, tell us what you're up to now?  

I founded G1gabyte back in March 2021. I was already doing website creation and general tech support for businesses of friends and family while I was in high school and 1st year of university. As my client base started to grow, I was still doing this all for free, and I found myself with less and less time each month.  

So, in March during lockdown, I decided to launch G1gabyte and turn my passion into something professional.  

Fast forward to this month, the company now has three offices, one in London, Edinburgh and Aberdeen and seven employees. We were also recently nominated for a Scottish Start Up Award in Glasgow.  

As a Business Management student, how do you balance your university work, and growing your own business? 

I honestly do struggle sometimes, but I admit I am a lot better than I used to be! My two absolute must-haves are my calendar and my to-do list app. Since my mind is pretty much thinking about work for most of the day, it helps to be able to note down something as soon as it comes into my head, so I can finish it later.  

Where my University deadlines are concerned, starting early and taking them a section at a time helps. I plan out my day, so I know what to prioritise. I have also become better at estimating how long something takes, and will plan my day accordingly, which also helps with motivation when working from home.  

The team has grown slowly overtime, and so has the workload. As the business owner, the majority of work comes in to me and I delegate it. I feel more pressure first thing in the morning before I’ve had time to delegate but having a great team and a good planner definitely helps to keep the ball rolling. 

What drives you? 

The desire to keep my clients satisfied and exceptionally happy with the service we are providing. Pressure may sound like a bad thing, but in reality, it makes me work hard. No two days are the same, and I love growing something I have created.  

Having a team who challenge me and give their opinions makes me really enjoy the day-to-day work. It shows they have a genuine interest in the business. Often when it comes to making businesses critical decisions, it’s not about my opinion, but rather what’s right for the business and what everyone else thinks as well.  

You joined ESMS in S1, tell us about one of your fondest memories from school 

The Iceland trip in S3. It was one of my favourite weeks of my school career, there was never a bad moment! The Geography department at SMC and MES did an amazing job to show us so much of Iceland in one week. It is something I will never forget, and it inspired me to take a trip back there last year.  

Another fond memory is being involved in two charity fashion shows at the City Chambers in Edinburgh. The events were both sold out and raised £6,000 for the Scottish Association for Mental Health. This was the first point where I realised I had the drive for business projects and an operational mindset.   

How did school prepare you for what comes next?  

In Sixth Form you are given more freedom than previous years for self-study and how you spend your time. We are really encouraged to manage our own time, and this helped when it came to going to university. The skills I learned, such as how to research and reference, aren’t taught at university - you’re expected to just know how to do it! Unfortunately, I missed out on the Home Economics course that was meant to take place in the second half of Sixth Form due to Covid – I am sure this would have made cooking as a student a lot easier and Deliveroo less of an expenditure! 

What's next? 

I would like to keep growing my business to the stage that after university the team can continue doing exactly what we love, day to day. The goal is to move to London and then hopefully take things international! 

What are your tips for pupils out there who dream of running their own business? 

  • Just start! Time is your worst enemy so if you have something you want to start, just set a day aside to get the ball rolling and you’re already ahead of the game 

  • Get someone you trust to help. Trying to grow something on your own is all very well, but having someone to ask for a second opinion or to voice a different viewpoint is always beneficial 

  • Hire people who are better than you at certain things! This way you can grow as a person, and not just be surrounded by yes people. Being able to bounce ideas off people who have different ideas, backgrounds and opinions is hugely beneficial not only to me, but for the growth of the company 

  • Focus on automating your work, from the start. Either outsourcing or having a tool that deals with the repetitive tasks will free up your time so that you can focus on other things 

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