A Wearside entrepreneur went back to where it all began as he visited sports-minded Sunderland students to talk all things business.
Former Sunderland College student Gavin Cogdon returned to Bede Campus to deliver a motivational talk and offer advice to those interested in setting up their own companies.
The 33-year-old dad-of-two, who owns successful fitness training ventures CrossFit Tailored Training and Unique Performance Coaching, recently launched football strength and conditioning programme Movement Academy, which is for youngsters.
Gavin combines all of that with playing for semi-professional football club South Shields, and his 30 goals have already helped his team win three trophies this season, and reach the final of the FA Vase, which will see him play at Wembley later this month.
He also works full-time as a physical activity programme co-ordinator for people with long-term health conditions.
His visit to the college saw him speak with BTEC sport, fitness instructor, personal trainer and higher education sports students who are interested in setting up their own business.
We all make mistakes and have to sacrifice certain things, and I think that’s what separates the dreamers from the people who go out and make it workGavin Cogdon
Gavin, from Wear View, said: “It’s a very rewarding experience but I think a lot of people at the outset don’t realise how much hard work it can be.
“You’ve got to love what you do otherwise you won’t have the motivation and commitment to see it through.
“We all make mistakes and have to sacrifice certain things, and I think that’s what separates the dreamers from the people who go out and make it work – I’m still learning from my mistakes, and I think it’s important that people understand the challenges of owning a business, and how you can turn a mistake into a success story.
“I really enjoyed speaking with the students and I hope it was beneficial to them.
“When I studied at the college I was given lots of encouragement and support, so it was nice to give something back and help the students decide what they want to do after they leave the college.”
Gavin launched Washington-based Crossfit Tailored Training three years ago with business partners Michael Williamson and John Lee Lydon, and it has since tripled its membership and moved into bigger premises.
He set up Unique Performance Coaching with friend Ian Watson last year, designed initially to educate elite sports people about the importance of strength and conditioning.
The company trains professional boxers, athletes, MMA fighters and semi-professional footballers, and is set for expansion – via the launch of Movement Academy – as it aims to target the younger market.
John Rushworth, faculty director for sport, health and well-being, said: “It was fantastic to welcome Gavin back to Sunderland College to share with learners what he has achieved from the skills, knowledge and experience he gained from the courses he studied with us.
“His achievements to date are a testament to his passion for the exercise and fitness Industry, and I’m sure our sports students have been inspired by his journey.”