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Young entrepreneur scales up his business
23rd September 2020

By Justine Thompson

With a lifelong love of tropical fish, Yorkshire-based Carl Goodman is setting his sights on scaling his ethical aquatics business.

One of Carl’s earliest memories was leaving his old life behind and meeting his adoptive parents for the first time, with just the clothes on his back – and a goldfish in a bag for company!


From left: Darren McDool from Launchpad, Carl Goodman, founder of Sustainable Aquatics, and Lee Chander, director of Sustainable Aquatics

He first began exploring the idea of earning a living from his hobby last year, having spent several years working in ‘unfulfilling’ customer service roles. When he discovered a pet store he had supported for many years was closing its doors, the 25-year-old decided to take the plunge and applied to the Sheffield City Region Launchpad programme, which provides tailored business support to new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Working alongside an experienced business adviser, Carl successfully secured the licences he needed to trade in livestock and began putting his plans into action. Unsure whether his idea would sink or swim, he decided to base his business at home in Rotherham and set about building a large, insulated summer house to house a diverse range of fish.

Through his work with Launchpad, Carl learned how to write a business plan, as well as gaining an insight into how to build a website and attract customers via social media. He has now expanded his fledgling start-up, Sustainable Aquatics, to larger premises, creating three new jobs and a haven for aquarium enthusiasts.

The new centre, which is based in a converted former industrial unit on the Eastwood Trading Estate, has enabled Carl to increase his diverse range of freshwater and tropical fish tenfold, all carefully sourced from traceable breeders around the world.  

“One of the reasons why I wanted to run my own business was to play a small part in protecting wild tropical fish stocks,” he said. “As a student I was shocked to learn how marine ecosystems are being decimated, due to the practice of harvesting wild fish, which often find themselves in unsuitable aquariums across the world.

“I called my business Sustainable Aquatics because all the fish I sell are sourced from captivity and can be traced to individual breeders across the world. Although I knew a lot about how to build and manage aquariums,

I knew that running a business would be a sharp learning curve.

BUSINESS ADVICE

“Working with a business adviser proved to be an invaluable experience. One of the best parts was the questions I was asked. The advice I received wasn’t prescriptive, but it helped me to draw my own conclusions.

 “My aim has always been to build a business that helps to support those interested in building their own aquariums, but also to support the broader community. Watching an aquarium can have a positive effect on mental health and, as the business has grown, I’ve been keen to use my knowledge to help others, including donating an aquarium to Rotherham Hospice, which I maintain on their behalf.”
Darren McDool, business advisor at Launchpad, said: “Carl came to Launchpad with the idea for a business which was built around his knowledge and passion for aquatics.

“He didn’t simply want to sell tropical fish, but to educate and support his customers, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that with such a meticulous approach towards delivering excellent customer service he quickly built a loyal customer base, giving him the confidence to grow and expand.”