Meet The Entrepreneur: Katie Matthews – The Mind Tribe

Katie Matthews is a 28-year-old, multi-award-winning entrepreneur, growth mindset educator, speaker, founder, mentor, trauma-informed practitioner and mental health and well-being trainer.

She has 11 years lived experience with mental illness, and is passionate about supporting other’s mental health, entrepreneurship, leadership, community development, growth mindset development and supporting our next generation of children and young people.

Katie is the founder of The Mind Tribe UK, Excel In Education Tutoring School, and the Young Entrepreneur’s Network Northern Ireland, as a voluntary organisation and dedicated platform and hub for young entrepreneurs and business professionals across Northern Ireland, aged 18-30.

Part of her ethos is to give back to the community, making a positive contribution to society and driving progressive change in the world around us. She does this within her roles as an Independent Member of the Armagh, Banbridge, Craigavon Area Policing Community Safety Partnership, on the board of Trustees for the charity Home-Start North Belfast and as the Northern Ireland National Director for the Global Entrepreneurship Network.

She was honoured to be recognised on the NI 40 Under 40 List in 2019, was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2018 FSB Awards, the Future Star Award at the NI Maternal Mental Health Awards 2019 and was a regional judge and panel chair for The Diana Award 2020.

Find out more about Katie and The Mind Tribe:

What did you do before launching your business?

I graduated from Queen’s University Belfast in July 2014 and initially worked in the banking sector but did not enjoy it and did not feel a sense of job satisfaction, and did not feel as though I was making a tangible difference to people’s lives. It was in this period that I was really struggling with mental ill-health and ended up being signed off work for six months. After this I worked in a small office doing administration and again felt miserable and unfulfilled. In September 2015 I then set up my first company, Excel In Education Tutoring School.

Tell us a bit about your business?

I am the founder of The Mind Tribe UK, a mental health and wellbeing training and consultancy business, and a tuition company, Excel In Education Tutoring School, supporting 7-16 year olds, with Maths and English.

With a passion for youth development and leadership, combined with entrepreneurship and mental health, Katie established the Young Entrepreneur’s Network Northern Ireland, as a voluntary organisation and dedicated platform and hub for young entrepreneurs and business professionals across Northern Ireland, aged 18-30.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I can remember my lightbulb moment so clearly! I was on my morning breaking in the admin job and went outside for some fresh air and the idea popped into my head and within the next 30 seconds I had the name for the business and decided I was doing it!

Who/What inspired you to start your business?

My tuition company came from my struggles with maths in primary school and the tuition I received from the age of 7 to 19. Being tutored completely changed my perspective on Maths and unlocked my potential within the subject.

Within a year of receiving tuition I had gone from being the bottom of the class in maths, to being recognised on the UK’s register for Gifted and Talented Children. It showed me the power of education, and the transformational capacity tutors can have on their student’s lives. My tutor was able to teach me in a way that I understood and had not previously been shown, unlocking potential in the subject I didn’t even know I had! It definitely worked though as I absolutely love maths now, received an A grade at GCSE Level and A grade at A Level, and it is actually my preferred subject to teach, despite my degree being in English!

I have 11 years lived experience with mental illness and received a diagnosis of Depression aged 17 and GAD (Generalised Anxiety Disorder) aged 22. Just to add to the melting pot, I was then diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune condition aged 26, just two months before launching my second business. The Mind Tribe UK stems from my lived experience with mental illness and a burning desire to smash the stigma surrounding mental illness, to support others and to train adults to effectively support our children and young people.

Who is your target market?

Parents, Educators, mental health practitioners, businesses, charities and community groups – everyone has mental health, so pretty much everyone can benefit from our services in some way!

What gap in the market does your business fill?

Lived experience combined with professional experience, and providing specialist Growth Mindset training and workshops.

Have you received any significant funding for your business? If so can you reveal it and tell us what different it made to the business?

No I have self-funded everything I have done to date, but may be looking for  funding in the future for upcoming projects and business ideas!

Who are your main competitors and what do you think sets your company apart from them?

There are quite a few competitors and people who work in the mental health and well-being space, but I feel that The Mind Tribe UK stands out with exemplary reviews and recommendations, combined lived and professional experience and we were the first providers in Northern Ireland of Growth Mindset courses and workshops. Also, both myself and my businesses are multi-award-winning and are overwhelming passionate about making a difference and significant impact on as many people’s lives as possible.

What is your vision for the company over the next few years?

I can’t reveal that just yet, but I can say there are big plans in the pipeline! I am so excited for the next few years to see how the business grows and also how I develop and grow as a person, as an entrepreneur and as a business professional.

What are the main achievements of the company so far?

There are three achievements that I am most proud of, two from 2020 and one from 2019.

Last year I was delighted to be included on the NI 40 Under 40 List and this gave me such a huge confidence boost, as I have always struggled with self-confidence and imposter syndrome.

In 2020, I was asked to join the regional judging panel for The Diana Award which was such a huge honour, as they are the only charity set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world. It was absolutely fascinating and totally inspiring to read the stories of amazing young people and changemakers across Northern Ireland and the rest of the globe, who are having such a positive impact in their communities and the wider world.

The final achievement is very recent! I have been appointed as the Northern Ireland National Director for the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Again, I feel totally honoured to have been appointed to this role at just 28 years old and am overwhelmingly excited to see where the journey will take me! I must take a moment to note though that these achievements have all been made possible through the support and kindness of others within the NI and UK entrepreneurship eco-systems, and by more experienced entrepreneurs and business professionals seeing my potential, having faith in me and giving me opportunities to learn and grow, so thank-you to everyone who has helped me on my journey so far!

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?

Ask for help!

Consciously and actively build your network, nurturing authentic relationships with others and developing a trusted circle. These are people you can go to for advice or guidance. Once you have trusted support systems in place, it can become so much easier to reach out, to voluntarily make yourself vulnerable and ask for help.

Remember, you deserve success, you deserve to thrive, you deserve to become the best version of yourself and you deserve to be supported. We learn by making mistakes and asking questions. We are all human. So, go for it! Ask the question, seek the support, utilise the resources, and embrace your growth mindset!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a business?

Firstly I would suggest thinking very hard about whether you really want this for your life. Entrepreneurship can be a long, hard slog sometimes, challenging and changeable, but provides wonderful freedom and opportunities. Don’t just jump in head first (even though I basically did!)

Secondly, I would say look for opportunities – and if they don’t exist, create them! If there is a change that you want to see in the world, a project you want to run, a business you want to set-up, a path you want to follow, go out and pursue it, seek it out, visualise it, work hard for it. If the opportunity you are seeking does not already exist, create it! Look for innovative solutions, create a community, and try to look for the opportunity in any situation. Also, I would suggest taking perceived failures and deconstructing them, exploring the lessons that can be learned and opportunities that present themselves.

Finally, I would say do not let others’ limiting beliefs of you, dictate or diminish the belief you have in yourself. Your life is your own, and you have the power to change and choose what you would like from your life. As difficult as it can be, do not let other people’s views chip away at your confidence and self-efficacy. If you truly believe in what you are doing, yourself and your decisions then keep going!


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