Jack McGilligan, from J3 Belts and Bearings explains his experience starting up a company whilst studying for his Undergraduate Degree in Business Studies.
As I have come to learn, entrepreneurship is harder said than done. My journey started in 2020, when I decided to launch my first company during my undergraduate degree, all because I struggled to find a student placement, stemming from the pandemic.
Created to serve the local engineering industry, by myself and my two brothers, John and James – J3 Belts & Bearings Ltd aimed to allow our clients to maintain efficient operations in a quality and professional approach. We identified a gap in the market in the Mid Ulster area and decided that together we could provide a service to our community. I was passionate about this project. This company was my draft, a personal test of my capabilities, and the very expression of my entrepreneurship potential. We knew that J3 wouldn’t be an overnight success, and with minimum experience in this industry, we had no doubt that we had many late nights of learning ahead of us. Nothing happened like we had imagined in terms of growth.
Whilst it was, indeed, a fast-paced environment, full of business opportunities, no overnight innovation triggered our growth, only our hard work did. Let’s not forget that I was also balancing a full-time degree in Business Studies. Whilst the workload pushed me and my abilities to the limit, it also enabled me to learn how to run a business as I went. Through completing a degree in Business Studies, I was able to utilise my learnings in marketing to publicise our products and services to potential customers; trialling various business models and implementing them into our organisation.
Since finishing my degree in May, I have finally been able to put my full attention into J3 Belts and Bearings and really explore its potential. That’s where BearingNet came into play. The User Meetings were of course the biggest draw. We decided to attend the Dublin User Meeting which gave us the opportunity to meet our current suppliers. This was not possible beforehand as a result of the pandemic. As the youngest company at the User Meeting, I made new connections, developed my knowledge on the industry and promoted our company.
Overall, my journey as an entrepreneur has been extraordinary, full of crazy and fantastic highs and lows. Over the past two years, we have experienced substantial growth. We have watched our business develop from one phase to another in a very linear way, growing our customer base, expanding our products, and increasing our knowledge on the industry. I’ve met incredible people in the trade, both locally in Ireland and internationally.
While the outcome was both exhausting and energising, it has slowly but surely designed the business owner and worker I have become. In the next year, I hope that J3 Belts & Bearings can continue to grow and provide a service throughout Ireland and the UK. We will continue to reinvest in our organisation, in order to grow our stock levels and also diversify our products. The BearingNet event was the first bearing show J3 have attended, and we look forward to seeing everyone next year at the BearingNet User Meeting in Berlin!