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Sabrina Stocker is a tennis player turned Forbes featured entrepreneur, international speaker, and semi-finalist on the BBC’s The Apprentice.
Stocker, 25, is co-founder of My Tennis Events, the largest tennis tournament in the UK. Lockdown also saw her set up Two Comma PR, a public relations agency turning the stories of brands and blockchain projects into users.
I started playing tennis as a seven year-old and my dad was also a snooker professional. It meant that I had this innate competitive passion within me.
Seven years later I found myself wanting some pocket money and with both my parents bringing in a modest income as teachers, the only way to get more money was to make it myself.
I started tennis coaching and helping to run tennis tournaments. James was my first boss and he seemed unhappy most of the time. I knew that I was only doing it temporarily. Yet, he was encouraging and great to me but seemed rude to others.
I remember this one tennis tournament, which ran over five days and 20 courts. The income stream would have been around £20,000, but I had worked out that the profit would have been around £8,000. It was an intense week and I was working minimum wage, paid £150 per week, shovelling snow and dealing with adults, which was all new to me.
It was a big learning curve for me and from then on I didn’t want to work for anyone else again. As I grew my tennis coaching I began to learn how to run my own tennis tournaments as a competitive business.
I never really had any role models as I hadn’t been exposed to business as a young teen. By 19, I was paying myself £40 per hour and I was picking out everything I didn’t like and flipped it. We ended up running around 400 events at its peak and, aged 21, I had the largest tennis company in the UK.
I decided one day to apply for Oxford University as I had the grades. I got through to the interview stage, had five cups of coffee beforehand and ultimately didn’t do well on the interview.
I then started working for various start-ups, helping them raise investment. From meeting people and creating opportunities, I found a loophole in the admin system where I was able to start a Masters without having an undergraduate degree. I became the youngest person ever to graduate from Edinburgh Business School.
When my tennis company was hit by the first UK lockdown, I still had staff to pay so we quickly pivoted to founding Shopping Slot, where you put your postcode in and you find all the different home delivery slots in your area.
We quickly went viral thanks to a crazy PR campaign. Over six weeks, we had half a million users and this turned into the start of my PR business. Lockdown pushed me out of my comfort zone and we are now looking at the NFT space where brands can create NFTs around their communities, which has created a lot of traction.
There are a lot of thinkers out there and not alot of doers. Nobody will do it for you in business and at school we’re spoon fed information, whereas when you get into the business world there is no rule book for right or wrong. You need to figure it out as you go.
You can only do that by trying and taking action and being able to learn from mistakes. As a business in the UK, my mindset is one that if I don’t push myself enough then I will just be comfortable, which is the worst place to be. When you take the risks, celebrate your wins and then, if you fail, fail fast and learn fast.
There are no excuses anymore. The majority of what I’ve learnt has come from YouTube, while my MBA helped me with the basic business foundations. To sit back and say ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ isn’t an excuse anymore. The skill set now is to find the information online and figuring out what’s useful and to try different things out. That's the key.