YOUNG VOICES

Entrepreneur Of The Week: Nathan John Dicks On Helping Students Learn By Turning GCSEs Into Songs

19/09/2014 09:03 BST | Updated 19/09/2014 09:59 BST

Nathan John Dicks struggled to revise for his GCSEs, and was told he'd only ever achieve C grades. That's when he realised he could remember song lyrics, but not his revision notes - and he set about turning his weakness into a business.

The 30-year-old has been publicly endorsed by the Prime Minister, appointed young ambassador of the year for the Princes Trust, been an entrepreneurship role model for the Welsh Government and represented the UK as a business delegate in Athens.

We spoke to Nate, who hails from Wales, to find out just how he overcome his challenges and turned them into a working business model.

learnthrumusic

Nathan, founder of Rewise

How did you get started?

I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I got a taster for what it is like running a business when I started selling sandwiches in school aged 14 and realised I could make money without a job.

I had the idea for LearnThruMusic when I was 14 and struggling to revise for my GCSEs. Music was very important me as a teenager, as it still is today, and it struck me that I could remember the words to my songs but not my GCSE revision. My idea was to take the GCSE syllabus and turn into to songs that help young people learn the GCSE syllabus.

In 2008 I started Rewise Learning and began work on LearnThruMusic as our first product. I had support from the Prince's Trust, UnLtd and the Welsh Government and have gone on to launch three further educational resources and course brands.

How is your business doing?

Business is great, over 30,000 young people have had access to our LearnThruMusic GCSE songs and we have just updated our website with new revision notes, online test features and videos content for the new academic year.

We have also been extremely busy working all over the UK in secondary schools and with NEET projects running our LearnThruMusic courses, where we teach young people employability and literacy skills via music production, songwriting, vocal recording and motivational talks. We set young people the challenge of writing, producing, recording and designing CD artwork for their own song whilst also completing our innovative literacy or numeracy workbooks.

We have helped thousands of young people achieve nationally recognised literacy qualifications with our courses and personally it's always an amazing feeling when young people tell you the course has changed their life and that they now believe in them-self and their ability to achieve what they want from life.

We have expanded our team in the past few months to meet demand and have just launched PhonicsThruMusic a new range of 20 interactive e-books that have been specifically designed to help 11-19 year olds learn to read if they struggled the first time around.

What have your highlights been?

For me one of the biggest highlights has been the impact our courses have made on the lives of people. Reading the feedback from people that have attended our courses blows my mind every time. To know that our courses have given someone their confidence back and to see young people people who have had a difficult time in life smiling and gaining their first qualification is an incredible feeling.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

I was diagnosed as being dyslexic when I was 21, so as you can imagine school was difficult. I was often told off because of my bad spelling and grammar, told I would not get C grades and even told by a careers advisor that setting up a business was not for me.

Having said that I would not change anything as being made to feel like I was stupid and being told I was not the right kind of person to start a business made me a stronger person and even more determined to be successful and to prove the doubters wrong, which I have.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to continue to built on the success that Rewise had had with our existing learning resources and courses, and am already in the early stages of developing a very exciting online courses website with a twist which will launch next summer.

I feel very passionately about all young people having access to the best education regardless of their financial situation. so I have just founded the Rewise Foundation CIC to insure we are able to offer innovative educational resources and courses to those who are unable to access them otherwise.

Away from education I am also a founding director of Surf Ability UK CIC an inclusive surf school for people with disabilities and learning difficulties, I want to continue to help the Surfablitiy team continue their fantastic work and also plan on starting a range of other businesses in the coming years, businesses as diverse as healthy fast food restaurants, product development companies and numerous online businesses.

Ultimately my plan is to be happy and to keep following my dreams.

Do you have anyone who inspires you?

My main inspiration comes from the experiences that have shaped me as a person, the support of my family and friends and from music.

When I was growing up and I was told I was not going to achieve C grades at my GCSEs and that I was not clever enough to start a business I always focused on the positive message of hope that was portrayed in the music of artists such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Tupac, Jimi Hendrix and Dennis Brown. These artists and many others inspired me to believe in my-self, to be strong and confident enough to follow my dreams of starting my business.

I am also inspired by anyone who has had the courage and determination to stick their neck out and start their own business, Richard Branson is the obvious example as he is also dyslexic as well.

Lastly the young people we work with inspire me, some have had a very difficult start in life and to see them not complaining or blaming anyone and just trying to make the best of their situation is humbling and very inspirational.

Any advice?

Don't sit at home waiting for someone to make your dreams happen. if you have a dream of starting your own business, getting your dream job or even travelling the world you can make it happen! Belive in yourself, be confident, work hard and you will make opportunities, take these opportunities and you will achieve your dreams!

Never dwell on disappointments and negative things that happen in life always think and focus on the positive.

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