As the graduate job market gets ever-more oversubscribed, the number of graduate entrepreneurs is growing exponentially. Over six thousand graduates classed themselves as self-employed or freelance in 2008-09, however, this grew to over sixteen thousand in 2013/14. In the same year, a further 2,515 graduates stated they were starting their own business.
With this surge in students starting businesses straight out of, or during, university we caught up with four graduate entrepreneurs to find out their stories on how they went from studying to running successful businesses – and how you can do the same.
Corbyn Munik is the man behind Sliide – an app that Smartphone users can download to earn money from their smart phone’s lock screen. Brands pay Sliide to appear on the users’ lock screens, and the users get exclusive offers and the chance to win prizes.
Corbyn says that he was able to gain much more from university than just the degree:
“The most helpful part about attending University for me was, interestingly, the network I built. In fact, one of my good friends from University actually introduced me to our now our lead investor; someone I respect greatly and has opened considerable doors for us as a company. Perhaps more conventionally, I must mention how helpful the content of my course has been. Despite not finding the Accounting & Finance syllabus the most interesting at the time, it must be said that there are significant merits to a practical course of this nature.
Claire Amelia runs The Bridal Emporium in Leeds – a bridal shop that stocks dresses from local, independent designers, as well as some designs by Claire herself. Having spent five years studying fashion design, tailoring and historical costume at the University of Hull, and working for several Yorkshire bridal shops, Claire started the bridal shop to follow her love of both weddings and vintage design.
When it comes to being successful as a graduate, Claire believes getting work experience is just as important as having a degree:
“I recommend working as many jobs as you can alongside a degree. I believe you learn a lot more skills in the workplace rather than at university, so it’s good to have the certificate behind you but it is a lot better if you have gone out of your way to developing those skills in a working environment, or even working from home freelance.”
“I am not afraid to say that I’d be nothing without my BA (Hons) International Tourism Management degree from the University of Central Lancashire. I was able to study for three years, with an additional year in industry which took the form of an internship at Walt Disney World, Florida – what many consider to be the best of the best for service. I later returned and studied for an MA in Scriptwriting from the same institution in December 2013, which meant that when starting Little Touches in March 2014 everything fused together to form what is now a 360-degree hospitality portal"
For anyone wanting to start a business straight out of university, each of our graduates have some final advice:
- Claire: “I trained for 5 years, fashion design, tailoring and historical costume. Each course helped me build my skills in dressmaking, designing and working with like-minded people.”
- Corbyn: “To stand a better chance of succeeding in your start-up, integrate yourself with the start-up community and make sure you have a mentor to help you along.”
- Jonathan: “Paying yourself very little in the early days and investing all profits back into the business is part of almost every entrepreneurial journey.”
- Tom: “The number one priority is to secure not just the domain names for your brand, but also the “forward slashes” on relevant social media platforms.”