Ahead of the impending of the FIFA World Cup, we sat down with Luke Westcott, an entrepreneurial Australian who supplies kits to the teams no one else bothers to.
Luke is the founder of AMS Clothing which assists in the development of football in African regions and is the official apparel supplier to several emerging national football teams in Africa and a recent participant of Activator’s accelerator program. This is his entrepreneurial story.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
Luke formed his idea after years of selling football shirts online, realising more obscure teams were highly sought after but hard to source, as many of these teams had no official supplier. “I decided to start the AMS brand in 2014 at age nineteen and supply these teams myself, with attractive, high-quality designs while supplying the market with their official shirts” says Luke.
How did you get your business started?
In May 2014, Luke reached out to the South Sudan Football Association, and within three weeks, his first order had arrived on the other side of the world. Luke reflects, “the actual start of it literally happened overnight.”
What was the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with Activator?
Luke was part of Activator’s first intake of startups in 2017. He recalls on the experience as “…hugely rewarding.” Luke goes on to list the 24/7 access to free office space, RMIT’s start-up community and the idea exchange at Activator as being “really beneficial.”
What have been the key achievements of the business so far?
“To date, we have nine national football teams in our sponsorship portfolio and are currently expanding at the fastest pace since we started about two and a half years ago.” As his business keeps growing, Luke has some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “Only start a business if you’re truly passionate about it, because it will take a long time for a start-up to become profitable.” Luke’s also states the importance of determination: “It is important to accept that it is always going to be incredibly hard to be successful. Embrace the challenge and think of it as something you will look back on in years to come once you have become successful.”
The biggest fear you’ve had to overcome on your entrepreneurial journey?
Travelling to war-torn African countries to do business.
And his top 3 tips for launching a business?
- Only start the business if you are truly passionate about it. In most cases, it will take a long time for a start-up to become profitable, so you really need a passion in your business to push you to keep working on it while you are not making any money. With AMS, it combines almost everything I am interested in, so I have found it fun to work on even at the times where we were not making any profit.
- Don’t focus on making profit in the initial stages. A start-up business needs a huge amount of dedication and hard work to become successful. I am a big fan of Tesla and PayPal founder Elon Musk, who said that he spent about 16 hours a day working on his start-up companies in their early stages. I have adopted this philosophy even if it means that sleep and much of my personal life has been sacrificed. I’ve found that as I have worked harder and harder on AMS, more and more opportunities have arisen.
- Don’t give up. In the early stages of the business it can seem like it is too hard to ever succeed, and it is easy to get sucked into the trap of instead choosing a regular 9-5 job. It is important to accept that it is always going to be incredibly hard to be successful, and those that are successful had to go through years of challenges before breaking through. Embrace the challenge and think of it as something you will look back on in years to come once you have become successful.
So how do you characterise the life of an entrepreneur in 5 minutes?