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Dundee firm’s impact on pupils’ health led to wellbeing focus as pandemic hit

Alan Clark, founder of Take Your Marks.
Alan Clark, founder of Take Your Marks.

Alan Clark believes short bursts of high-intensity activity, yoga and mindfulness tasks can reduce problems in the classroom.

His Take Your Marks resource can now be accessed by more than 20,000 school pupils and he hopes to be in a third of schools within three years.

When the pandemic hit, he knew companies would need wellbeing solutions to help staff.

Alan Clark of Take Your Marks.

This led to him forming The Wellbeing Venture, a holistic tailor-made approach for firms to help their workers’ physical and mental health.

Q. How and why did you start in business?

A. My co-founder Craig Dunlop and I went to university together and have remained friends since.

One day we were discussing the decreasing provision for physical activity in primary schools, and decided to start a business to change it.

We’ve since evolved to also cover health and wellbeing provision in the workplace

Q. How did you get to where you are today?

A. It’s been a challenging journey and has taken us some time to work out exactly what we are as a business. However, we’re now very clear about what we offer, what our ‘point’ is, and the impact we’d like to make.

Alan Clark has launched Take Your Marks with the aim of reducing outbursts in some of Scotland’s most deprived schools. Picture taken prior to Covid-19.

Q. Who has helped you along the way?

A. Business Gateway Tayside has been a consistent help throughout in terms of setting the business up, planning, marketing, and developing networks.

We’ve also had excellent support through Abertay University, in particular the Bell Street Ventures incubator.

Q. How has coronavirus impacted the business?

A. We entered 2020 with a great deal of optimism. In February we secured a contract with SGN to provide online resources for their 4,000 employees and our sales funnel was extremely healthy.

By the end of March, everything basically disappeared.

We were very lucky to have enough capital to survive over the summer and react to the changing landscape. We quickly realised that we could be offering far more in the area of staff wellbeing and set to work developing our new brand, The Wellbeing Venture.

Q. What was your biggest mistake?

A. Definitely forgetting our ‘why’. We started in business to make a difference to physical activity in schools, but we’d moved away from that to focus on the financial side, making us lose passion. We realised that we needed a model that allowed us to make our ‘why’ happen first and foremost.

Q. What is your greatest achievement to date?

A. Our gifting scheme. For every client we work with, we gift our Take Your Marks resource free to a school of their choice. So far we have gifted to 53 schools across the UK.

Q. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

A. Our mission is to have gifted our resource to a third of all UK schools by December 2023.

Q. Do you want to recruit in the future?

A. Yes, we’d like to recruit several new team members over the next six months in business development and relationship roles.

Q. What is the hardest thing about running your own business?

A. Without doubt, staying focused. There are just so many things requiring attention all the time!

Q. Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?

A. Ask for as much advice as you can. People are always willing to help because they want you to do well. Our Business Gateway adviser, Stuart, was always there at the other end of the phone to share his expertise – you just have to ask.

Q. How do you relax?

A. I’ve always been ultra sporty, so physical exercise is my way of being mindful! When I’m not coaching or running around, I’m kept on my toes by my wife and two teenage kids.

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