Jack Parsons, CEO at Youth Group, voted ‘UK’s kindest leader’ launches organisation to mentor youths
“One of the biggest challenges I faced as a young entrepreneur was my age”
I faced a difficult upbringing as a child, coming from a low-income household where my mother battled alcoholism and violent behaviour,” Jack, CEO of Youth Group tells me. “Despite these struggles, I had the support of my siblings and was primarily raised by my mother until a certain age. Eventually, my father took over and continued to provide guidance and support.”
Jack Parsons is enabling millions of young people to access jobs, skills and mentors through his company, Youth Group, which is now one of the UK’s largest communities dedicated to empowering youths. His journey saw highs and lows, and the young entrepreneur faced several setbacks early on in his life. Growing up in a single-parent household was challenging and Jack is all too familiar with the struggles of poverty and living in a low-income household. He made it his life mission to make a difference for youths who face a similar situation as he did – so they are not alone.
“When it came to my education, I attended a school in Essex, but I did not pursue higher education at a university,” Jack said. “While my childhood was challenging, I persevered and learned valuable lessons that helped shape who I am today. These experiences have given me a unique perspective and drive to make a difference in the lives of others, particularly young people who face similar challenges.”
At the age of 16, Jack enrolled in an apprenticeship in education recruitment. After a few years in the field, Jack took a leap and started his own company and with his experience, it grew quickly raising several million for his first-ever start-up. But money wasn’t the goal for Jack. He wanted to use his skills and knowledge to make a difference in the world. “The experience of building and running a company taught me invaluable lessons in leadership, management, and problem-solving,” Jack explained. “However, as I reflected on my journey and experiences, I realised that there was more I wanted to do. I wanted to use my skills and expertise to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. With this in mind, I shifted my focus and started setting up a youth group that aimed to help young people from social mobility or minority groups achieve their goals.”
Launching in 2019, the Youth Group focuses on inspiring and empowering the youth through mentorship, network events, career workshops and resources designed to help young people succeed. The goal is to provide young people with the tools they need they need to thrive and succeed, no matter what challenges they may face along the way. Jack started the organisation after realising youths were facing a hard time with employment, and that there weren’t many resources and help for young people when it came to starting their careers. “The market has long been missing a joint-up approach to solving the youth employment challenge,” Jack explained. “While there are plenty of individual companies and charities working to make a difference, their efforts are often too slow and disjointed to make a real impact.
“At Youth Group, we’re doing things differently. We’re a platform that brings together the resources and expertise of multiple organisations, with the goal of creating a seamless, integrated approach to helping young people achieve their full potential. We understand that in today’s fast-paced world, young people need quick, effective solutions to the challenges they face. That’s why we’ve designed our platform to be agile and responsive, moving at the speed of the young people we serve. Gone are the days of long, drawn-out programs that take a year or more to produce results. At Youth Group, we’re focused on delivering real, measurable outcomes for young people in a matter of days and weeks not months or years.”
Launching the business came with several challenges. Jack started the business entirely by bootstrapping, relying on his finances to kick the business off. Despite it being challenging at the start, this allowed Jack to build a sustainable business that was in life with his values and goals. “Bootstrapping was a conscious decision for us,” Jack said. “We believed that we could build a successful business without external investment and that we would have more freedom to pursue our vision without the pressure of satisfying external investors.
“However, this meant that we had to be more careful about how we spent our time, money, and resources. We focused on creating partnerships with companies that shared our vision and could provide recurring revenue streams. This approach not only allowed us to generate revenue but also helped us to expand our network and create a community of like-minded organisations. Despite the challenges of bootstrapping, it gave us the opportunity to build a sustainable business model that was aligned with our values and goals.”
Jack also faced judgment because of his young age. He said it was tricky to navigate the entrepreneurial scene because some people didn’t believe he had the knowledge and experience to make it. Jack explained: “One of the biggest challenges I faced as a young entrepreneur was my age. Some potential partners were hesitant to work with us at the beginning because they didn’t believe that a young person could have the experience and knowledge necessary to make a real impact. However, we didn’t let this stop us. We persevered and focused on delivering scalable impact to show the value of our platform. We worked hard to build relationships with companies and other organisations, showing them the benefits of partnering with us and the value we could bring to the table.”
But Jack proved the nay-sayers wrong. Through strong partnerships, an open mind and a fearless attitude, Jack was able to propel the business to greater heights. Youth Group has achieved spiralling success online with over 12 million weekly social media engagements. Jack is also known as The UK’s Chief Youth Officer—a public figure that champions the interests of all young people across the country.
He is an international advisor on youth to Governments and one of the 6 official ambassadors for homelessness with Big Issues Group. Jack also sits on the advisory board for Co-op group and is the non-executive director for the Lord Mayor of London’s apprenticeship company Association of Apprentices. But Jack still has big plans for his business.
He hopes the Youth Group will become the largest global youth network in the world, making an impact on young people through his mission. Jack prides himself in having a ‘growth mindset’ as his pinnacle driving force and has learnt to embrace opportunities and challenges along the way to learn and develop. “Having a growth mindset has been a crucial part of my entrepreneurial journey. I am always eager to learn, grow and adapt to the constantly changing business environment,” Jack said. “I understand that challenges are a natural part of the process, and I have learned to embrace them as opportunities for learning and growth. This mindset has helped me stay focused on the big picture, despite the setbacks I have faced along the way.
“I strongly believe that having a clear sense of purpose and passion for what you do is crucial in achieving success. When you love what you do, it makes it easier to stay motivated and committed to achieving your goals. Finally, I know that resilience is essential in the face of adversity. I have learned to bounce back from failures and setbacks, using them as learning experiences to strengthen myself and my business.”
At Retail Week Live, which was held from 29 to 30 March, Jack discussed the current needs and trends of the younger generation, including ecommerce, live shopping, in-store, the metaverse and community building. He spoke about what’s important to consumers in this generation and what should businesses be doing to attract those audiences.