A YOUNG entrepreneur who set up his own gardening company with help from school friends impressed experts and won a £1,500 prize.

Alfie Jones from Royal Wootton Bassett started The Backyard Barber just over a year ago after his GCSE exams were cancelled and has since gone from strength to strength.

Due to high demand from happy customers the 17-year-old now has six of his friends helping out when they’re not in school, he passed his driving test and now uses a van instead of a bike, he invested profits into new machinery and tools to carry out bigger jobs, and entered into a national competition for young entrepreneurs.

After pitching his plans for the future to a panel of business professionals in London, he came third out of more than 75 competitors and received a four-figure sum to invest into the green-fingered firm as well as six months of mentoring from an expert.

Alfie first noticed the competition in a school newsletter while studying for his A-levels and balancing what he calls his ‘side hustle’ with full-time education.

He said: “I thought ‘Well, there’s no harm in applying’, then used my social media pages and network to gain more than 500 votes to get into the top 25, I was so excited.

“When my name was called as the third place winner, I was over the moon and it hit me that I have been recognised as an entrepreneur with a lot of potential.”

He hopes to grow his business and possibly turn it into a franchise, employing other teenagers up and down the country as well as expanding his Bassett team to increase their reach and the amount of services they offer.

Alfie told the experts how he would hire a manager to carry out the work while he finishes his final year at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy before returning to lead the team after graduating.

He added: “I posted on Facebook saying we are mowing lawns and back offering our garden services, but we soon found our demand was much more than our three-person team could manage so I took on more.

“I bought the van three weeks after passing my test which was my biggest and best investment yet as it allows me to travel further and carry more kit and staff to jobs and get more done in a day, which leads to a higher turnover.

“We have also started to offer landscaping which is bringing in a different source of income that can be carried out during the winter and helps give the boys working for me the opportunity to learn new skills.

“We’re going back to our studies but we will be back again in June to start up again and see what we can achieve.”