Jim Duffy's first career was as a teacher but he left the classroom to join the police force, before deciding he was in need of another change – Jim wanted to be his own boss.

The police force has it's benefits though. Jim said: "I liked the discipline and that no day was the same."

But when he was sent off on secondment for the 2004 Open Golf Championships at Royal Troon, Jim realised a career change was on the horizon.

"It dawned on me that my whole life was geared around this job and I wanted to do something else," he said. "I wanted to be my own boss."

The lifestyle of an entrepreneur was a world away from his working class roots, growing up in 1970s Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, with brother Tony, sister Colette and father Jim senior, a printer compositor for the Evening Times, and mother Nan, a nurse.

"At the time it was jobs in steelworks and coal mines, there wasn't any great ambition for people to go and start a business," said Jim. "I had been brought up in the culture of a job for life, but that didn't sit with my DNA."

Leaving a secure career behind, Jim dipped his toe into the world of entrepreneurship, initially setting up as a franchisee of Car Park Valeting. His confidence grew and he opened up two more franchises, purchased the Rubaiyat Bar on Byres Road, and set up Autovalet Contracts, providing re-finishing services to prestige car dealerships throughout the West of Scotland.

Always looking for a different challenge, Jim took the decision to sell all the businesses in 2009, and set off to undertake the Saltire Fellowship, a year long business education programme. The course is designed to enhance entrepreneurial skills, and is split between labs in Scotland and time at top business school the Babson College, near Boston, in the US.

"It was mind-blowing," said Jim. "You were turning ideas inside out and applying different filters to them, you got to know things better. It professionalised things for me, in the past I just did stuff, but this made me look at business models, marketing and selling."

After graduating from the programme, Jim became involved in a start-up that, in his own words, "didn't go too well." "I call that my disaster," he said. "We created a great piece of software but didn't test whether we had a customer. I thought 'there has to be a better way to help start-ups and entrepreneurs, rather than just leave them to their own mistakes and devices'."

From that initial thought, Entrepreneurial Spark was born. Jim contacted fellow entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter and Sir Willie Haughey, the founder of City Refrigeration, who donated 12,000 sq feet of office space. "He and Sir Tom Hunter have just been phenomenal and have embraced the idea," said Jim.

The Glasgow Entrepreneurial Spark "Hatchery" opened in the New Year, helping more than 50 budding entrepreneurs, or "chicklets" achieve their dreams by offering free facilities such as desk space, IT and phonelines, as well as help and support from a bank of 30 mentors from various industries.

"It's not an accelerator or an incubator, it's an incu- accelerator, where the chicklets are hot-housed," said Jim. A second Hatchery opened in Dundonald last month, at Sir Tom Hunter's private equity partnership, West Coast Capital, and now has 40 chicklets developing their start-ups from all over Ayrshire.

"I love getting involved with the entrepreneurs and all their different business models, maybe it's the teacher in me," said Jim. "They know they can come in here and they've got someone to talk to, someone who'll support them and challenge them."

With investment from Glasgow and East, North and South Ayrshire Councils, as well as Royal Bank of Scotland and Glasgow Caledonian University, Jim is now hoping to further develop Entrepreneurial Spark.

"We want to increase our bank of mentors and get the investment community wrapped around us," he said.

"Sometimes I feel like the luckiest guy in Scotland, this is the best job in the world."

n Tomorrow – we meet two of the hatchery's graduates.

ENTREPRENEUR Jim Duffy has toyed with many different career paths – teacher, police officer, car valeting.

But as Lalita Augustine discovered, it was the chance to encourage others which has given him the biggest buzz