Inspiring, educating and equipping the next generation of skilled workers is at the heart of 4D Academy.
The Pontyclun-based training provider was formed when business partners Mark Davies and Christopher Saunders saw the need for a new kind of training offering for businesses. After coming through the pandemic stronger, 4D Academy is now looking ahead to an exciting future.
4D Academy has been supported through the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP). The AGP provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Here, co-founder Mark Davies shares his business journey, explains how they overcame the obstacles set by the pandemic and looks ahead to a bright future for 4D Academy.
Tell us about 4D Academy
The story of 4D Academy goes back to 2019 when Christopher and I identified a business opportunity for us in training.
My professional background is as a health and safety manager, and I was frustrated by how difficult it was to source quality training. That’s how we spotted a gap in the market; we both felt there was scope to offer something much more hands-on and fit for purpose.
We’re based in Pontyclun, with five staff members at present and several associates. We expect to double that team in the next 12 months as we grow. The business works with several partners to deliver various specialised training programmes throughout the UK. So we’re very excited about the future.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
I think Christopher and I are most proud of being able to grow our business, despite the barriers we’ve faced during the pandemic. The restrictions introduced have been difficult for us, but we got through it, and we’ve been able to grow through that period too.
What challenges have you faced in business?Undoubtedly the most significant barrier the business has overcome has been the Covid crisis. I’m sure that’s a shared experience for many companies up and down the country.
We mainly operated face-to-face, which quickly had to change to a remote model as the pandemic restrictions started to take effect.
So we had to refocus and find alternative ways to deliver our programmes quickly. We also had to find new ways of marketing our offering to new customers through less traditional routes because so much of our business came through referral and in-person association.
We focused on online and remote delivery, which meant we could establish ourselves through these new networks. We’ve also found LinkedIn to be a handy tool in spreading the word about what we do and winning new business.
I think the pandemic has presented all kinds of businesses with enormous challenges. But, so many of us have used this as an opportunity to change for the better. We saw it as an opportunity to be more dynamic, agile and think differently.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
We’d have focused the business sooner, aiming to be more proactive than reactive. The business grew so quickly that, looking back, we would have preferred to put more structure in place sooner. Things like the website and our social media presence didn’t get the attention they deserved initially.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
Business Wales AGP has supported us with tender writing and general business guidance.
All this has been a massive help as we’ve established ourselves. It was also invaluable as we faced the issues that the pandemic threw up for us.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
- First, don’t be afraid to start – failing is a part of growing and trying something can only make you more experienced.
- Keep learning and looking for opportunities to grow your experience and knowledge base.
- Focus on something you do well and specialise in it before expanding – it’s better to do one thing well than several things poorly.
To learn more about 4D Academy, visit here.
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme.