Barnsley entrepreneur puts The Business Village on the map

Giftware company, Atlas and I, sells personalised maps, gifts, and homeware products. This unique offering piqued the interest of Barnsley entrepreneur, Tom Maskill. Knowing that he could add value and growth, he bought the business in January 2022.

“I enjoy having projects and have always run a business in some shape or form. My first, Maskill Marketing, was part of the ‘I know I can’ challenge in Barnsley when I was 14 years old. Then, at university, a friend and I founded a discount card scheme called Barnsley Card.”

After buying Atlas and I, one of Tom’s first jobs was to move the head office north. Having spent the last 10 years building local business connections he knew Barnsley was the ideal location. Tom works full-time as the Sales and Marketing Director for Webmart. So, any work on the new business would have to take place on evenings and weekends.

He looked for suitable office space in Barnsley and, in May 2022, moved into The Business Village.

“I became aware of the space here while representing Webmart at Net Zero Accelerator events. It was important to have 24/7 access because of when I work on the business. The Business Village ticked all the boxes for location, flexibility, and community. Plus, it offered easy in/easy out terms which took away the pressure of having a three year lease.”

“The business community at The Business Village is great”

Since moving in, Tom has realised how useful it is to have the reception team on site. With him not being on site during the day, they are able to send and receive parcels on his behalf. He’s also been to events and joined networking groups.

“The business community and Creative Collective group here are great. Kevin, the Business Development Manager, has helped with introductions to other business owners. I’ve met people who can supply product photography, marketing, and other freelance services.”

Along with moving the business up to Barnsley, Tom has been concentrating on learning the processes. He’s currently putting an infrastructure in place which will enable him to scale. It includes a new website which he says is the final piece in the puzzle.

“I’m aiming to get everything live and working well before Christmas. Then next year will be about scaling. I want to collaborate with other businesses who can help drive more traffic to our website. And I’d like to offer our products in America and Australia. It’s great for the business, but something new to me so I’ll be looking for advice.”

Atlas and I supplies both business to consumer and business to business markets. Many small brands such as gift shops stock greetings cards and products with maps of the local area. The company also uses third party companies such as The Wedding Shop to create personalised wedding gifts. Plus, companies can order personalised maps as corporate gifts.

“My plans include expanding both the territory and the product range. Some of my ideas are complementary products which revolve around maps and travel. And I’d love to supply places like National Trust and English Heritage gift shops.”

“Applying for local grants can help scale your business”

Tom has made use of local support to create the infrastructure for this growth. The Business Productivity grant from Enterprising Barnsley funded with money from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded part of his new website. Whilst this project ends soon, their Digital Innovation Grant is still available.

“Applying for grants is a useful process and can help scale your business. There are often grants available in Barnsley which have a poor take up. Regardless of whether you get the grant, it’s still worth applying and I’d encourage people to look at them. Laying out your thoughts, objectives, and success criteria is important for any project you’re investing in. If anybody would like help or advice, just connect with me on LinkedIn.”

To contact Atlas and I:

Phone:   0208 944 2123