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Marc Wileman's Member Story

At the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) we have been working closely with our members to tell their story.

Marc Wileman is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Sublime Science. Over the past few years, Marc and his team have taken the business of children’s parties by storm and have fundamentally altered the way children experience science – making it fun for all ages!

We spoke to Marc about the incredible success his small business has seen over the past seven years. Marc describes the business for us, “We are on a mission to make science awesome for one million kids. We make sweets, we make slime, build catapults and launch rockets. We do all this to make science fun for primary school children.”

He continues, “We host award winning Sublime Science parties, it’s the most popular children’s party in the UK. On top of that we visit primary schools and host workshops. We also have a few educational books on sale and an online learning platform too.”

We asked Marc where the inspiration for setting up a small business came from, “I’ve wanted to set up my own small business for as long as I can remember, I’d messed around with ideas at university like a lot of people do. I ended up moving to Australia after completing my master’s degree in physics and began to work in science communication work as a profession.

“When I came back to the UK I really wanted to carry on working on a similar programme, so I set up my own company.” The company has dramatically expanded and Marc’s Sublime Science parties are in high demand, “It was just me to begin with and now there’s more than a hundred people involved in the company. We’ve grown quite a bit over the last eight years.”

The business has also gained significant exposure over the past few years, with Marc appearing on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den and gaining investment in Sublime Science. Marc also had the chance to meet Her Majesty the Queen whilst being presented with the Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation.

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Early on the company gained support in the form of a £1,750 loan from The Prince’s Trust. Marc describes the humble beginnings of Sublime Science, “We started with the world’s worst website back in 2008! I just Googled ‘How to build a website’ and found a video on YouTube. 

It was rubbish, but I managed to get a website onto the internet and sometime after we had a couple of enquiries. Once we got going word of mouth spread and business picked up.”

When not hosting Sublime Science parties, Leicester based businessman Marc gives inspirational talks to prospective business owners, “I like to talk about the reality of the subject. There’s a lot of glamorisation of setting up a business now. It’s brilliant to get more positive attention but it does leave people thinking that hanging out with their buddies will make them a millionaire in a couple of years.

It’s kind of like singing and all of a sudden becoming The Beatles – it’s not going to work out that way for everyone.”

We asked Marc how FSB has been able to support him and the business since joining, “When we first took on a member of staff, we used the online legal document template library. FSB does more important stuff than you think it does, there are lots of member benefits, probably more than we actually use. 
I was also a finalist in the FSB Worldpay Business Awards 2016 and that was great. I’ve stayed a member for seven years, it’s a good organisation and lobbies the government to represent small businesses. I think small businesses are comically under-represented so there definitely needs to be more of that representation and I think what FSB does is brilliant.”

Marc continues “I like getting the printed magazine, First Voice, in an age of online it’s good to get some information that’s printed. It keeps you up to date on random policy changes and what’s happening in the small business world.”

We asked Marc what he saw happening for his business in the future, “We’re becoming more involved in the online learning platform and we have the Sublime Science Club which is an online learning portal. 

Soon we hope to expand on an international level. America is the primary target, we have so much content for English-speaking countries.

Nick Jenkins and Sarah Willingham of Dragons’ Den are helping us to plot the right strategy. Everyone wants to expand, but you have to do it in the right way. Far more businesses get themselves into trouble through growth than through lack of profit.”

In terms of advice for other small business owners, “Some people set up a business because they think it will be easier than their day job – if you want the easy route then take a day job. That’s not a judgement on anyone, just don’t set up a business with ease being the goal.

You’ve got to be passionate about what you’re doing. If it’s something you’ve got a passion for then absolutely go for it, it can be a beautiful thing.”

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