MATTHEW Carter set up Colour Academy Books in October last year after failing his driving theory test the first time. He realised he’s a visual learner and set up a colouring book for test-takers to study in a more engaging way. The book can be bought online and is on trial in all major Waterstones branches.

Name: Matthew Carter
Age: 24
Position: Founder

WHAT’S YOUR BUSINESS CALLED?
Colour Academy Books

WHERE IS IT BASED?
Edinburgh

WHY DID YOU SET UP THE BUSINESS?
I FAILED my theory test the first time I sat it. My mum bought me and my brother a theory book for Christmas. My younger brother wanted to beat me by passing. I graduated uni and then sat the theory test in summer 2017 having not really opened the book. I failed by one question. Rather than putting myself down I realised why I didn’t want to read the book – 950 practice questions is boring.

I have a visual memory so I made up a big poster that was very colourful and then passed – I thought this would work for other people. I did product design and engineering at university and loved the idea of having my own company. I knew an illustrator – my friend Katie [Forbes] – who helped me.

There’s lots of support out there for start-ups. I have been good at teaching myself. Lots of people from the internet generation have a can-do attitude and are used to Googling how to do things. I signed myself up to Business Gateway workshop and looked at competitions through Scottish Institute For Enterprise. I did research on how to set up the business and how to get into bookshops before launching.

We did two phases of prototypes funded by the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network. In May we had 20 test copies, and then 20 full copies in August when the full book was finished. In May, 20 users all passed the test using the book.

The firm's founder came up with a different way to swat up on your driving theory test

WHAT IS YOUR TARGET MARKET?
THERE are 900,000 unique attempts at the theory test every year. Half of those are 17-year-olds. Anyone can use the product but 17-year-olds mainly use it. Parents often purchase it if they know their child is a particularly visual learner. Young drivers make up the majority. We never recommend to use the book alone. We wouldn’t say any other books compete with us – they are complimentary. The book is laid out in a scene format so it helps with development of awareness. When it comes to the hazard perception part of the theory test, the user might have seen the clip in the book.

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM COMPETING BUSINESSES?
WE are combining educational colouring with the theory test. In the educational colouring market the only other publications that exist are for the sciences and life sciences sector. One of the first educational colouring books was an anatomy book which was a bestseller in 2017. Nowhere in the world has this been done for driving.

We have a driving instructor affiliate programme where they can get commission on sale of the books. Driving instructors are the key as the biggest challenge is reaching people.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT RUNNING THE BUSINESS?
I HOPE the business grows to a point where I still pack and send the book. I love meeting other entrepreneurs. We started a social club for 15 entrepreneurs in Edinburgh. Scotland is an amazing place [for business], everyone is fired up about it. Tom Hunter and other big names are promoting entrepreneurship in Scotland. Everyone wants everyone to succeed. We won more than £16,000 in grant funding only available to Scots. Royal Bank of Scotland and Strathclyde funding is invaluable.

WHERE DO YOU HOPE THE BUSINESS WILL BE IN 10 YEARS’ TIME?
I WOULD like it to become the next For Dummies. There are visual learners everywhere. Twenty years ago textbooks were covered in text. Now they are full of diagrams so visual learning is happening. Parts of the driving exam are quite dry. There are two directions the business can grow in – domestically in Scotland and the UK (incorporating the motor cycle exam or the citizenship test) and abroad. We’re trying to create partnerships with dyslexia and ADHD charity partners. We engage with charities because not learning to drive – especially in rural areas – can be a huge setback in professional development.