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In 2015, Kieran Aitken established Orbit in Scotland. We were incorporated as a Social Enterprise (Company Limited by Guarantee) on December 23rd 2015.
Our first programme supported thirteen Orbiteers from three schools. Now, we’re supporting 600 hundred Orbiteers per month across 10 cities and 100 schools.
This is our story.
Dinosaurs are roaming around in the education sector. They wear suits, have really bad breath, pay themselves six-figure salaries, and call themselves “CEOs”.
They deliver workshops to school students on CV skills, and use their secret weapon: Boredom. The students fall asleep, and the teachers groan about spending hundreds of pounds and hours of their time administrating the programme in the first place.
On the 18th May 2015, Orbit’s Gaffer, Kieran Aitken, was in the waiting room of a factory in Glasgow. While waiting to meet the factory owner, a phone-call went off between the receptionist and billionaire Sir Tom Hunter’s assistant. Kieran overheard the call and learned that Sir Tom was due to visit the same factory two days later. Kieran went there that day, hid behind Sir Tom’s car, and pitched the idea of Orbit to him in the car park.
Sir Tom loved the idea for Orbit (we think!) and gave us some starting capital, advice, and access to some friends in RBS who helped us get started.
On the 23rd December 2015, Orbit was born. Legend has it that a bright star shone above our lawyer’s office on the day of our birth.
So we got to work and the first three schools signed up to the programme. We opened the doors for our Glasgow Gaff in 2015, and the first 13 Orbiteers received our package of support.
Our group of initial Orbiteers finished the course, and Sir Tom gave the concluding remarks and shared some words of wisdom with our Orbiteers.
The first programme was a great success and we wanted to do more. So, we got fifteen schools to participate in the next programme and we supported 60 Orbiteers. Some of the Orbiteers in this cohort earned well over five-figure sums from their businesses.
The Scottish Government were told about our work. The business minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, popped in and met with our Orbiteers.
We hosted “The Life Story of Lord Haughey OBE”, a self-made multi-millionaire entrepreneur from Glasgow. He shared some remarks and then met with our Orbiteers in person.
Our team started to grow. We hired a Finance Director, a Programme Director, a Programme Administrator, and two school relationship managers.
By now, the word of Orbit was spreading across the school system. We worked with another 100 Orbiteers in 2017 from over 20 schools in Glasgow alone.
We needed a Gaff for our team to work from.So we got an amazing deal on an office in Glasgow. It was on the 10th Floor of one of Glasgow’s tallest buildings, and had views across the city. We won several awards this year.
Our Edinburgh Gaff opened in 2017 and began working with the first 60 Orbiteers from ten schools across Edinburgh. Steve Ponton was appointed as the Programme Gaffer, and EY became our partners in the region.
We wanted more billionaires (who wouldn’t?) to meet our Orbiteers, so we hosted “The Life Story of Jim McColl OBE” in November 2017. Hundreds of Orbiteers across Scotland attended the event.
We spoke with our good friends at RBS and Natwest and told them about our plans to branch into England. Our Manchester, Birmingham, and London Gaffs launched later that year and we’re now supporting another 200 Orbiteers per month in the UK’s three largest cities.
Our revolution is now well and truly underway across UK schools. Our programme has supported hundreds of Orbiteers, and is set to work with thousands more.
Boyd Tunnock CBE, who manages one of the UK’s best known confectionery brands (“Tunnocks”) agreed to sponsor Orbiteers around the UK to participate on Orbit’s Programme. Mr Tunnock is 87 years old and still arrives at the office at 7am every morning for work!
Our programmes keep growing. We held Skype sessions between each of our Gaffs, allowing Orbiteers from across the country to expand their networks.
We hosted the Life Story of Charlie Flynn in our Glasgow Gaff, with Orbiteers, sponsors, and teachers from across Scotland attending the event.
Charlie is one of Scotland’s best known boxers, and won the lightweight gold medal at Glasgow 2014.
We’ve been nominated for our second award of the year. We’re finalists in the “Socially Inclusive Business Award 2019” category. Wish us luck!
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