I have been providing IT services and advice for as long as I can remember. While at Staffordshire University I set up my company TLMartin Ltd in 2002, so I could start to offer these services to home user and businesses in my local area. In 2003 I graduated with a BEng (Hons) Internet Technology, having also spent a sandwich year providing technical support at Michelin Plc in Stoke which is what inspired me to start my own business.
Once I had graduated I entered into traditional employed roles, while still keeping my business running on the side purely via word of mouth. In 2004 I entered into an 11 month contract with Shrewsbury Sixth Form College to be involved in their Adult Education side with Learndirect. I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity of helping people learn new computer skills whether it was someone wanting to keep in touch with family, or someone learning Office Software to help them get a job, as well as the higher level qualification people took for personal improvement. During these 11 months I took on online tutoring of the learners as a separate contract to the facilitating that was done within the college. I also created and led a few training courses coving specifics requested by local businesses. These experiences had opened up a love of teaching and motivated me to investigate becoming a teacher.
Unfortunately the government started reducing the funding for Adult Education towards the end of my contract so I left my Learndirect role and persued enrolling into Wolverhampton University on their PGCE in ICT so I could teaching students from the ages of 11+. This was a scary time as I remember what my class mates and I were like as children. In fact my first day in my first placement school had a teacher with arms out walking down a corridor so a student couldn;t just walk out of the school during AM reg.... what had I let myself in for? However the following week I taught my first lesson and wow it was amazing.
In 2007 I became a fully qualified Secondary School Teacher of ICT and proceeded to work for Walton High School in Stafford where I quickly became Deputy Head of the ICT Department. I spent the next 9 years teaching a wide variety of ICT topics to children from the age of 11-19, including GCSE and A-Level qualifications (and equivalents). In the last 4 years here I was also the only Computer Science teacher, where I introduced the Computer Science GCSE into the school. During my time in the school I was invovled in a number of other areas, regularly leading staff training on a variety of IT tools that could benefit them, e-safety training to students, staff and parents. This also led to me being often consulted over e-safety concerns involving staff and students. I was also invovled in the whole school ICT committee for looking at future improveents of the school.
During all this time I was running my business TLMartin Ltd on the side purely by word of mouth. This kept me steady supply of engaging challenges as I looked after the complete IT for a few businesses, and picked up occasional one off projects from other clients. This produced a huge benefit to teaching as I was always able to relate work that was being done/taught in school to the real world which kept students engaged.
Over the previous 15 years I havehad many interesting projects through TLMartin Ltd, showing of a wide variety of IT skills and providing me with challenges that I have enjoyed overcoming and for clients all over the UK.
I really enjoy new challenges and I absolutely love technology, both hardware and software. I don't believe there is a problem that can;t be solved, we just work out the most effective way to do what is wanted.
At the end of 2015 I came to the realisation that there was no work life balance in teaching. While I loved teaching ICT and Computer science to students, it was no longer fair of how much extra time was given up in order to do everything required in order to do a good job. At this point I integratedanother love and passion of mine into my businesses.... Geeky Collectibles and Educational Items. I knew leaving teaching I would need to really push my business forward and build up as much revenue as possible to replace my teaching salary.
To this end I set up an online shop and started sourcing geeky collectibles. I was asked the other day what type of geeky collectibles and I found this is really hard to explain, so far better to go and look http://www.facebook.com/ukgeekshop or http://www.geek-shop.co.uk . The big sellers I currently find are Funko Pop Vinyl and Pocket Pop figures and Trading Cards (and their protection). This taught me quickly that peoples online shopping habits had changed. When people are looking for items now they go to Amazon and eBay first, and are usually loyal to one or the other, so I also had to add an eBay shop to the mix. The biggest downside to selling geeky collectibles is that most items that come in to sell I have to buy one for myself... and if its something I don't want, odds are my son will.... Santa bought lots of items from me at Xmas 2015 as my son saw me opening cases of toys and wanted them all lol. This side business has been a nice trickle of revenue and over the last year I have been going to a variety of local events to have a stall. This year you'll find me at as many Comic Cons as I can get to.
I also mentioned about my passion for educational items. I have a desire to educate in my blood from teaching. I have added items I think would be really useful for students and parents to help their children push those key skills of computing, logic, numeracy and literacy. With this sales side I am currently working on a way to allow nurseries and primary schools to access these resources for free as I know their budgets are so tight with real life funding cuts (not matter how much extra the government claim they are putting in)
So what does my future hold? An exciting adventure of being fully self reliant, hopefully successfully self reliant. So far on my journey of really pushing myself forward I have met some fantastic people through 4N so I think I made the right choice there. After only being to 2 meetings I became Group Co-ordinator at the Cannock evening meeting woohoo.. I am now Group Leader at 4N Walsall evening.
Hopefully this has given you a bit of an insight about me, if there is anything you wish to ask please do not hesitate to get in touch