Man brought to the brink by cocaine and booze addiction now helps fund the charity that saved him
- Credit: Archant
A dad-of-four who battled an addiction to drug and alcohol that brought him to the “gates of death” is now a successful entrepreneur who used 65% of the profits of one of his companies to help fund the charity that saved him.
When people use the online vehicle parts location website breakeryard.com, they might not realise it, but in the same way as the company puts vehicles back on the road again, much of the profits raised by the company help to put people’s lives back on track too.
It’s all thanks to Matt Bott, a 44 year-old who was born in Diss, where his dad was minister of the Pentecostal Church, and worked as a high flying banker for 10 years, then as a self employed business consultant in Essex.
Matt’s first idea for a business came to him in 2003, when his Saab car hit the curb and knocked off a chunk of alloy wheel.
“Saab said they would charge £400 for a minimum of four wheels, but I found a used specialist which charged me just £70,” he said. “It was such an amazing deal, I started buying up parts from second hand dealers and launched breakeryard.com, to put vehicle part buyers in touch with sellers. Google by then had come to the forefront of search engines, so I learnt about google optimisation and generated huge volumes of traffic.”
But as Matt started earning a substantial income, his ‘play hard’ mindset started to outweigh his ‘work hard’ ethos. “As I put my focus into launching the company, I was under a lot of pressure,” he explained. “The more money you accrue, the more responsibilty you have. It was also the party lifestyle, after a bad divorce - and when I was in banking, there was a strong drinking aspect to the culture. I was earning a lot of money, but I knew the dealers’ numbers and where they were, and I really needed help to get away from them all.”
Matt ended up going to rehab in London through a Christian charity called Teen Challenge on a 12 month basis.
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He ended up staying on the programme for three years and met his wife Stacy there too, with whom he now has two children - Elisha, 2 and Josiah, 7.
“I wouldn’t have survived without Teen Challenge,” he said. “They are rescuing people from the gates of death. When you are in that circle, it’s so hard to get out of. And the people who do help you out have been through it themselves - they have rescued hundreds of people across the world.”
Team Challenge needed a company to help them fundraise at that time, as its government funding has just been withdrawn. Matt agreed to help them through breakeryard.com. “It was a two way thing, because they were helping me to get my life back in order,” he said.
“Breakeryard came alongside at just the right time to replace the funding that it had lost. Team Challenge is a faith-based charity and I guess this was a direct answer to their prayers at the time.”
Although a charity helping addicts and a car parts website might seem to be worlds apart, Matt believes that in a way, their purposes are aligned.
“Drug addicts can be looked as the refuse of society, that people want to ignore and cast to one side and some even give up on. Teen Challenge helps the addict, giving them hope and helping them go back into the world using their skills to make a difference again. A Car Breaker does a similar thing with vehicles and says ‘this isn’t junk, there’s value in this yard with all these parts, they can be re-used again for good purpose’.”
Matt has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last 11 years through breakeryard.com for Teen Challenge, enabling the charity to go from providing nine beds to 21.
After going through recovery, Matt co-founded the loft conversion company Essex Rooms with a friend, and used money from selling his stake in it to launch his current business venture, the business management consultancy 1st Choice Marketing, last March. After less than a year, it has already turned a profit.
“If my experiences in life have taught me anything, it’s that not only can you overcome adversity, but you can go on to thrive in business and help others not to make the same mistakes in the process,” he said. “I am so thankful that I had the support I needed at just the right time. Teen Challenge swopped despair for faith and hope.”
Matt says that these days, his addictions don’t cause him a problem - as long as he doesn’t drink. “The advantage of staying clean is that you’re not giving your money away to the wrong sort of people,” he said. “I have four lovely kids and a lovely wife.
“The treasure I get in life now is the joy of my kids telling me that they love me, and I never want to do anything to wreck that now.”