23 Nov, 2023 @ 15:57
2 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Young businessman encourages local talent to take on Gibraltar startup adventure

A YOUNG entrepreneur from Gibraltar wants to bring together ‘creative people aged from 18 to 26’ to help make the most of their talent with the support of the government.

James Barton, who recently digitally mapped the offices of Minister for Trade and Industry in incredible three dimensions, now has big plans to give more young people the chance to use their skills.

“I would love people who are skilled, technologically inclined and really motivated to reach out to us and see if we can work together,” Barton told The Olive Press.

Minister for Trade and Industry Nigel Feetham has already embraced the idea in his first month in government.

Barton became interested in building his own business from an early age.

By the age of 12 he was already running his own Minecraft server and selling equipment for the popular children’s game online.

“Even back then I always had this kind of goal of setting up some kind of organisation and making some money out of it at quite a young age,” he recalled.

Then he designed an online interactive directory for Gibraltar called imap.gi between the ages of 14 and 16-years-old, but his lack of business knowledge made the idea collapse.

After getting first class honours in geography he did a Masters in Business Management.

That led to a job at a major phone company in the UK but after two years he became, in his own words ‘disenfranchised with working in big corporate business’.

“I was so disconnected from all of my customers, and I never really felt like I was contributing too much,” he said.

Starting anew

That whole episode ended only a few weeks ago and that’s when he moved to Gibraltar permanently.

He rented small offices in Ragged Staff Wharf and started Barton Solutions with hard-working digital mapper Jarod Vassallo.

Minister Nigel Feetham met the pair and took them under his wing, and Barton is grateful for the support.

“I think if you want to start your own business, you always will,” the up and coming businessman said.

“Knowing Minister Feetham now is having a bit more focus on startups and young entrepreneurship he Gibraltar is definitely helpful.”

He said Feetham has been constantly messaging and encouraging him in his business model and giving him ‘the personal connection’ he did not expect from a minister.

Emerging small businesses have suffered from a lack of funding in Gibraltar after Brexit.

The EU used to provide grants for entrepreneurs but now the only thing Barton could apply for was taking on a worker under the trainee scheme.

But rather than dwelling on the negatives, he already wants to branch out.

“I know some people who are incredibly talented and are working just quite standard corporate jobs and Gibraltar,” he told The Olive Press.

“I’ve spoken to them and they’ve said that they’d love to be in an environment where they’re doing more entrepreneurial stuff where they can really use their skills.”

He said ‘Feetham loved the idea’ and supports his enthusiasm of collaborating with them which in the future Barton hopes will lead to some sort of government or privately funded co-working space to develop local people’s skills.


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