8 successful student businesses started at university

A growing number of students at university are not just concentrating on their degree or their social life, but on starting their own businesses.

Some of the most influential companies have risen from university projects to world-dominating giants. Technology businesses are particularly successful student started companies because they have a very large potential market and are easier to run without much space or expense. Many businesses that have been set up specifically to cover the costs of university have turned into million pound companies and as a result have made their founders household names.

From the world’s largest social network to champagne importation into the UK, here are some of the most successful and intriguing businesses to have been started by students at university:

1. Facebookstarted famously in a Harvard bedroom by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. Facebook began as a site designed to connect students of the Ivy League school online. Within a month, the network had spread to other universities and eventually to everyone. Today there are 845 million members worldwide.

2. Time Magazine – started at Yale University in 1923 by two classmates Briton Hadden and Henry Luce. The pair created the first weekly news magazine in the U.S. at just 23 years old. Today, Time magazine is the largest weekly news magazine in the world, boasting a readership of 25 million people.

3.Google – started at Stanford University in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The PhD students set out to change the search engine. Once upon a time, search engines ranked results by counting how many times a term appeared in a result. The pair developed a new technology called PageRank, which measured a site’s relevance based on the number and importance of its pages. Page and Brin today are worth more than US$30 billion combined.

4. WordPress – started at University of Houston in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg. The publishing platform behind nearly every blog online quickly expanded, powering 2,000 blogs by the spring of that year. As of last year, of the top one million most-trafficked websites on the Internet, WordPress powered nearly 15% of them.

5. Insomnia Cookies – started by a student at the University of Pennsylvania. The late night cookie delivery service was founded when the usual takeaway options of pizza or Chinese food didn’t satisfy his sweet tooth. Insomnia Cookies is now a chain of 20 cookie-delivery services across America.

Some student businesses closer to home:

7. First Class Products – started at Exeter University by geography student Tom Ellis. He found success importing champagne into the UK. He stumbled across the idea after tasting Leroux-Mineau champagne and set up the company after learning that it was not yet being sold in Britain.

8. Gelato Mio – a thriving ice-cream parlour started by London Business School students Carlo Del Mistro and his wife Simone in 2008 in Holland Park, West London.

9. Beautiful Bottoms – started in 2009 at Newcastle University Business School by third year marketing and management students Lauren Skerritt and Poppy Sexton-Wainwright.  The lingerie business received celebrity endorsement from Britain’s Got Talent judge and actress Amanda Holden and former Treasure Hunt presenter Anneka Rice. The girls borrowed £9,000 to launch thebusiness and repaid three-quarters of that within weeks of starting trading.
Running a business whilst studying at university is not only a great way to make some extra cash but to develop entrepreneurial skills which are much-valued in the graduate job market. It could even be a world changing idea! So keep your eyes peeled for unexpected opportunities. Can you think of any other successful enterprises have been started by students?
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