Take a lesson from the entrepreneurs who simply couldn't wait to graduate

Undergraduates are getting a head start on their careers by launching their own enterprises while they study

Chris Hannaway, 20, was so unimpressed by the frozen yoghurt on sale in the shops that three years ago he and his friend Will Hammersley decided to see if they could do better themselves. The two students at Bath University created their own flavours in the university kitchen, rented a freezer, procured a Victorian ice cream cart and took their new product out into the streets of Bath.

It was an instant hit. The denizens of Bath lapped up the pair's favourite strawberry and raspberry flavour. "Because people liked the product so much we realised we needed to keep on making it," says Hannaway.

But making frozen yoghurt takes time, particularly when your technology is basic and there are only two of you, so the dynamic duo decided to find a manufacturer. They went back to the drawing board, changed the name of the company to Arctic Farm and eventually found Beechdean Dairies in High Wycombe to create their product.

Their first retail customer was Harrods in July 2009. Now, almost a year later, they are selling in 110 Sainsbury's stores around the country. "We are taking a leaf out of Ben & Jerry, but we are more health oriented," says Hannaway. "It's not a weight-watcher's dessert but it's not full of sugar and fat either. It's guilt free."

The experience of these two friends, who are still at Bath University, is part of a trend. Entrepreneurship is bursting out all over in British universities. Not content with waiting until they graduate, today's students are establishing their own companies while they study for their degrees, hoping to set themselves up with profitable and rewarding careers.

Driven by ambition and the desire to strike out on their own, the undergraduates of the 21st century are a breed apart from their parents' generation. The idea of joining a large company – of being a small cog in a large machine – does not appeal nearly as much as creating their own business their own way.

Hannaway, who is a student of management, says that it has been tough combining the degree with a new start-up business. "I did a six-month internship with M&S as part of my degree, and it was hard running the business as well," he says. "But normally at university we only had 10 hours of lectures a week, so you had plenty of time to do something else."

Learning how to start up your own company while also studying at university is a good time to do it, he thinks, because it is a safe environment in which to experience knockback and failure. "I can afford to fail here because it doesn't affect my ability to earn a living," he says.

Student-run companies such as Arctic Farm are being supported by the National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs, a grass-roots organisation that represents local student enterprise societies and lays on boot camps for students to give them the skills they need and special sessions in how to lay their hands on finance. It was founded by 12 university enterprise society leaders in December 2008 and today has more than 65. Its membership has grown to 35,000 since then, and it is now looking to expand its reach abroad to students as far apart as Sweden and Ethiopia.

"The fact that students are out there networking and taking risks is really important," says Victoria Lennox, the consortium's founder and CEO. "Things are beginning to happen. Silicon Valley grew out of the ecosystem that formed around Stanford University in California. We're seeing the same thing happening now around Cambridge, UCL and Edinburgh."

All this effort has been given the official seal of approval. The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) has awarded £40,000 to the consortium to enable it to increase its support to enterprising students, partly because Hefce wants students to look at alternative career routes in the recession. It also believes that student entrepreneurs can play a part in stimulating future economic growth.

Stephen Leguillon, a recent graduate of Warwick University, is another budding tycoon. He set up a company, E-resistible, with two other students in May 2008. All three were studying for a Bachelors degree in management at Warwick Business School and looking for a business opportunity.

"When I got to Warwick I realised I couldn't get a takeaway meal because the campus was so remote. The answer was a one-stop location where you could order food and ready meals. I hit on the idea of a website."

The rest is history. At first, 16 restaurants signed up; now there are 450 covering more than 30 towns and cities and the company hopes to expand further. Customers can pay by credit card or cash on delivery. Most importantly, the business is now profitable.

Other students want to do good as well as be entrepreneurial, such as Edwin Broni-Mensah, a maths PhD student at Manchester University. He established GiveMeTap, an enterprise that has created a network of cafes that give free tap water to people who carry a reusable aluminium bottle, which students buy for £7. Turnover this year is £8,000, of which 70 per cent goes to water charities around the world. "When I began my PhD, my aim was to go into investment banking," says Broni-Mensah. "Now I want to join a start-up company – I've got the entrepreneurial bug."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Nursery Assistant/Nurse all cheshire areas

£7 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are a large and successful recrui...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Qualified Nursery Nurse for Bury Nu...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Full time key stage 2 teacher job at ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn