IN 2010, at the age of 26, David Berber left his job as an accountant with Ernst & Young on a Friday and moved to Manchester on the Monday to follow up an idea he had for a business venture.
Berber had been involved in coaching kids' football and saw a gap in the Irish market to run team tours. There were a couple of competitors already operating here but he wanted to take it up a notch.
The Dublin man spent four months travelling around England talking to major football clubs about the possibility of bringing tours over. After knocking on numerous doors and overcoming the challenge of getting into big teams like Manchester United and Everton, Berber set up DB Sports Tours later that year.
He applied for a licence from the Aviation Authority and by the end of 2010 had brought 10 schoolboy teams over to the UK to train in camps, watch football matches and play against the youth teams in clubs like Manchester United and Fulham.
"Our market to date has been Irish schoolboy clubs, and we organise everything from transfers and accommodation to training at the academies to match tickets and matches against the youth teams. We package the whole weekend," says Berber.
From the outset, he received support from the Dublin City Enterprise Board (now the Dublin Local Enterprise Office). "They were absolutely brilliant to me, gave me employee and start-up grants, mentorship and I've also been on the Accelerate programme," he says.
By 2014, Berber had grown the number of tours to 35. This year he expects that figure to grow to 75. He's hired two full-time employees to assist with the growing business.
This year has got off to a promising start for DB Sports Tours, as Berber brought his first ever group from the US on a tour. That piece of business arrived on his doorstep after a previous Irish customer emigrated to the States and recommended DB Sports Tours. Berber is now seriously eyeing up the US market, and has plans to travel there in the coming months.
He's also branched out his business in the past few years into another interesting area. A couple of years ago, Berber was approached by Chubby Chandler's sports agency and asked to scout for up-and-coming Irish footballers. He worked with the agency for a year before going out on his own, and has signed up 12 young players, including Irish international and Fulham player Noe Baba.
In the short to medium term, Berber hopes to grow the player management side of the business.
"I want to be known as the number one in Europe for football-related business services. The plan is to grow internationally, with a major focus on the US market into Europe."
Berber is also in the midst of setting up another business, which will provide football academies here.