The young Bangor fish entrepreneur who believes that any fin is possible

Sam Hamill, 20 year old Director of Big on Fish studies at the Universty's School of Ocean Sciences.Sam Hamill, 20 year old Director of Big on Fish studies at the Universty's School of Ocean Sciences.A 20 year old student at Bangor University is using his lifelong passion for marine biology to drive his ambitions to become the largest livestock supplier of fish species in the UK.

Sam Hamill, who is currently in his third year studying Marine Biology, is set to launch Big on Fish in November, an online shop and retail store selling aquarium equipment and stocking over 1100 exotic fish and coral species.

While Sam’s interest in marine biology began at the age of six, his entrepreneurial nature developed during his teenage years, when he set up his first business providing pond maintenance services to his local community at the age of 17. Once at university, and upon realising how competitive graduate jobs in the industry would be, Sam decided to set up his new business to develop and grow while balancing his ongoing studies.

And following 18 months of hard work, next month Big on Fish is set to launch. Sam will manage both an online outlet which offers a next day delivery service based in Caernarfon, as well as a retail store in Manchester he has recently developed a partnership with.

The shop will stock fish from across the world, including Hawaii, Australia and the Red Sea, with the most expensive fish species retailing at over £2000. Sam is confident that both the retail store and online shop will enable Big on Fish to stock the largest number of fish species in the UK.

He said: “It has taken time to build the business from the ground up to be ready to launch, but I’m a very ambitious person and felt this was a market that I could really add to with both my knowledge and passion for marine biology.

“The business is aimed at commercial and private clients, and I believe we’ll have people from all backgrounds buying aquarium products from us – whether they’re looking for an exotic fish for their home, or an impressive fish tank for their business.”

During his business journey, Bangor University’s Enterprise Champion Lowri Owen referred Sam to Big Ideas Wales, the support service for young entrepreneurs aged 5 to 25. Big Ideas Wales, which forms part of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales Service, and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, provides business support and mentoring for young people to enable them to make their business dreams a reality.

To help craft his business plan, Sam attended Big Ideas Wales’ Bootcamp to Business event in Betws-y-Coed earlier this year. The three-day residential workshop played host to fifty young entrepreneurs with the aim of equipping them with the essential skills they need to help get their business ready and grow their network of connections. It was here that Sam received assurance and advice from mentors about his business plan, as well as meeting other likeminded young entrepreneurs, two of which he now rents a business space with in Caernarfon.

On his Bootcamp experience, Sam said: “I went to the event thinking I knew almost everything I could about starting a business, but in actual fact I quickly realised I didn’t know as much as I thought. I learnt a lot at Bootcamp about protecting my brand and how to market the business. It’s a brilliant service for young entrepreneurs to take advantage of.”

And following the launch of Big on Fish, Sam has even more plans he is working towards making a reality. He has his sights set on opening further retail stores across the UK, with a store in his current home of north Wales being a key ambition for him, particularly with the marine biology work taking place in the region.

And before the end of the year Sam also intends to launch a Big on Fish fish food product range, something that is currently in development in partnership with a company based overseas in America. The product will be imported from America which Sam can rebrand under the Big on Fish name, expanding the company’s offering to its customer base.

The Welsh Government’s Big Ideas Wales programme encourages and supports young people aged between 5 and 25 to develop entrepreneurial skills and start a business. Part of the Business Wales Service, it is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. For more information, and to access support, visit – www.bigideas.wales  

The next Bootcamp to Business in Betws y Coed is taking place 2-4 March 2016. To apply and for more information on the event, visit www.bigideas.wales

For more information on Big on Fish, go to: http://www.bigonfish.co.uk/

Publication date: 27 October 2017