Young People Vs Entrepreneurship

Google’s recent survey into UK’s entrepreneurial ambition says that 78% of young people are turned off about entrepreneurship – But what about the other millennials running their own ventures.

Millennials are those born from 1980 up to the millennium, including those in the university age up to the mid-thirties.

Some of the reasons, noted in the survey, why young people are ‘not interested’ in becoming founders were the risks involved in making money, lack of support and role models.

The report was gathered by YouGov and commissioned by Google – Its responses were based on 1,000 British teenagers aged 15 to 18.  

Young people are well in their right to need a secured career, after years of studying in the job market is unpredictable.

However, there’s still a glimmer of hope for someone who might not see themselves working for a well-established company in the future.

We believe these exemplars are those keeping the entrepreneurial fire burning for Britain. 

Check out these five student entrepreneurs who set up their own ventures while at University and their thoughts on government support for future founders.

Tai Alegbe – BAACO

Founder Tai Alegbe, second to the left, with his team.

Educational Background – MA Management & International Business, University of London, Birbeck College.

Support – The Global UKTI Startup Programme and startup accelerator programmes – Oxygen and MassChallenge.

BAACCO is a search and discovery platform, where consumers can search for available wines across thousands and thousands of merchants and transact in a matter of clicks.

The idea was sparked by conversations with former colleagues, a number of them stressed because of their challenges around finding specific wines they had tried and wished to buy. We launched our official beta product in late February 2016 and very excited by our new product, especially given the market reception to our earlier test Alpha product.

We have 1000’s of customers from 10 different countries at present and also work with merchants in five different countries. Although we’re actively only focused on UK retail opportunities currently, we have some exciting plans to scale our offering further in 2017.

As a team, we come from an engineering, finance, legal and management background all of which have exposed us to very entrepreneurial company culture. This stuck with us and grew so starting a business was the only logical step. 

We’re very passionate about food and wine – We found, after studying for a WSET course, that wine could be more than just a passion especially given our collective skill sets. 

The UK government is doing an excellent job of supporting young high growth businesses, especially with their Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and Enterprise Investment Scheme. Perhaps they could reach out to the community more frequently.”

Nick Musto – Radar 


Educational Background – Maths and Economics Undergraduate, University of Sussex.

SupportStartUp SussexYoung Start-up Talent Brighton & Hove and Entrepreneurial Spark Accelerator.

“From a young age I have been entrepreneurial in a sense, from selling sweets on the school bus to starting a website design company in my teens, I have always wanted to create something huge and work for myself.

Radar is a multi-award winning start-up created by students for students. We are modernising the night-life industry with technology so that students can have more fun and businesses can be more efficient.

I originally came up with the idea when I first came to university – Not knowing where to socialise and what events are happening in the city is a real problem for students, even those who have been in the city for a few years.

I discovered there wasn’t anything which gave information on the hundreds of student and city events happening every week. 

During my second year, I heard about the University’s StartUp Sussex programme run by the Sussex Innovation Centre and decided to take part, which helped to take the idea forward.

We created our first beta version of the Radar app and site in February 2016 after 8 months of hard work and development.

Along with the largest events companies in the south-east and many amazing student societies we have been testing our assumptions and validating further before we roll out across multiple locations in September.

Currently, my main concerns are hiring the right talent and finding a good mentor to help with my inexperience. I have tried a couple of government schemes such as Mentorsme but it isn’t great, instead, I’ve had to resort to researching individuals and making contact via LinkedIn.”

Rob Wilson – CrowdReach

CrowdReach Team – Rob Wilson, founder, pictured right.

Education Background – Business Team Entrepreneurship Undergraduate Degree, University of West England.

Support – Entrepreneurial Spark Accelerator and UWE Team Entrepreneurship Hub.

CrowdReach is a new crowd-funding agency that helps entrepreneurs to plan, create, market and manage their crowd-funding campaigns.

To date, we have raised over £85,000 for our clients and recently launched our most recent campaign ‘INFINITY‘ – The pen from space.

I was never 100% about going to uni, for me, I have always found it frustrating climbing the ladder of education, learning things for the sake of passing an exam.

As much as I was keen to get out into the ‘real world’, my family persuaded me otherwise and so I came across the University of the West of England (UWE) and its new Business Team Entrepreneurship degree.

It all started in the University canteen. A chance meeting led us to work with a student startup who was developing a product for 3D printers. Part of this work included helping them to raise investment and after much research, we turned to crowdfunding.

A couple of months later we launched their Kickstarter campaign and in the first 11 hours of being LIVE, we were able to reach their target of £20,000 and go on to raise over £64,000.

After concluding our work, we toyed with the idea of helping other startups and spent the next few months learning all we could about crowdfunding.

Shockingly, we discovered that at the time between 60-70% of all campaigns were failing to reach their targets. Most reward-based platforms apply a fixed funding model, meaning that if the creator does not hit their target they do not receive any of the funds they have raised.

Identifying the growth of reward-based crowdfunding in the UK and spotting a gap in the market, we decided to set up the first crowdfunding agency of its kind in the UK.

In my opinion, the government should do more to introduce entrepreneurship at a younger age. There is so much you can learn from working in teams and running a business and personally I feel I have developed massively over the last 3 years.”

Sherry Ngai – Digital Fineprint

The team at Digital Fineprint with Sherry (middle)

Education Background  MBA, University of Oxford.

SupportUniversity of Oxford (admin and PR) and an Angel Investor.

Digital Fineprint helps life insurance companies to sell online using big data. The idea arose when I met my classmate, Bo-Erik Abrahamsson, a Swedish young entrepreneur during the introductory week in October 2015 when school started.

As an ex-banker who experienced the pain of cold-calling to sell life insurance and an ex-Twitter specialist who foresaw the power of big data analytics, we soon realised our common goal to make selling life insurance more effectively online.

We have worked together on it since then and entered ourselves into one of the largest startup competitions in the UK to gain public awareness and support from potential investors.

Within two months, we were able to welcome four more members onboard from the university and alumni consultancy support. Digital Fineprint was officially launched in December 2015 and we won the ‘Best General Startup Award 2015’ at the Grad Factor UK.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is rooted in my family. My father has been running a car insurance and claims consultancy business for 20 years, and watching him successfully solve every big and small problem in running his own business is the most satisfying thing in my childhood life.

The joy of solving a problem and the positive impact a business can bring to the society confirm my decision to study an MBA to learn more about entrepreneurship.

One of the largest difficulties student entrepreneurs face is to gain access to financing.

We are grateful to be financially supported by an angel investor through the network of the university, but more can be done at the government side to offer accessible financing opportunities to many passionate student entrepreneurs.

For example, the process of applying for SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) is rather lengthy and complicated and it can scare off those really fast-growing startups.

For many technology-based startups of which time is money, gaining access to finance after 12 or even 24 months is nothing but wasteful.” 

Charleh Dickinson – Designed2Eat


Education BackgroundBSc Food Marketing Management, Sheffield Hallam University

Support – No external financial support. We have just allowed the business to organically grow.

Designed2Eat is the UK’s first Paleo snack cake company as they are free from dairy, grains, dairy, soy, corn with only naturally occurring sugars because we use the natural goodness to create the delicious flavour. 

It was first started as a Paleo Food blog back before the lifestyle was mainstream at the start of 2013. Upon, coming to university in September 2013, it was officially made into a company and product development began. By March 2014, we did our first food festival.

I still live by the Paleo lifestyle and our cakes and treat have come a long way since. The Fudge Brownie is still the family favourite that it was originally inspired from.

Entrepreneurship runs in both sides of my family – My father and co-director of Designed2Eat is a successful business coach based in the North West of England. Generation after generation, we have all been self-employed.

I was originally, and still am, mainly in the fitness industry. As an elite athlete, exercise and sports was everything. However, as someone who is allergic to dairy, all grains, soy and has a family history of type 1 diabetics, I had to be careful about what I ate.

It was in my second year at college that I really became interested in my food and nutrition. I never felt 100% and I knew there was something I could have done.

I was originally going to do International Business at Loughborough Uni with a sports scholarship, however, a few weeks before the deadline, I completely changed all my options to Food Marketing Management at Sheffield Hallam.

It was the best bit of googling I have ever done in my life and that was only because I had mumps and was bed-bound that I had pondered the idea in the first place. 

I think the government can do more to support student entrepreneurs financially and office space throughout the whole duration of the studies.”

You’re invited to My Startup Story
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