Ambulance man's bright idea wins beer mat business prize

John sock-etts to them in Teesside University challenge

A light-bulb lit up when NEAS's John Sharkey was asked to come up with a new business idea which could be written on the back of a beer mat.

John, who works in NEAS's Tees Vehicle Workshop, is currently studying for a Foundation Degree in Business Management at Teesside University.

His business idea was to produce a 240volt plug that lights up when a fuse has blown, letting the owner know that they don't have to replace the appliance - just the fuse.

John, whose wife is NEAS paramedic Karen Sharkey, said: "I've been at NEAS for a few years now, and this was a course I have fancied doing for a while.

"I actually submitted three different beer mats with ideas scribbled on the back - but I always thought this was the best one. We had a great talk which was very inspiring from a successful entrepreneur called Mark Southon. He's from the North East, and made his millions in the early days of the internet.

"Mark has also writting a book called "The Beer Mat Entrepreneur", which explains the principles. The best ideas are really simple - and if you can't explain them on the back of a beer mat, the idea probably won't work."

 "I got the biggest shock of my life as I am no Duncan Bannatyne. There were four top prizes of £50 up for grabs, and they had more than a hundred ideas submitted.

"I'm going to donate the £50 to the ambulance service. As far as the actual business idea is concerned, I'm looking into possibly developing it."

Teesside University's entrepreneurs@tees offers a range of events and challenges to promote entrepreneurship among staff, students and graduates.

Nazia Ali, entrepreneurs@tees Graduate Intern, said: "The beer mat challenge was just one of the exciting events we have running throughout the academic year.

"John's business idea really caught our attention and we hope his success will inspire him to become an entrepreneur of the future."


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