Almost a third (30%) of students – equivalent to 518,372 in total – currently run or plan to run a business whilst they are still at university, according to research from Santander Universities. The findings represent a 38% increase on the 375,000 budding student entrepreneurs recorded in 2015.
Amongst those that have already started a business, the average turnover is £13,213 per annum, equivalent to a collective £913 million, almost double the £478 million turnover from last year’s research. Technology-based solutions (22%) and arts or crafts (18%) are the most common type of student venture. These are followed by clothing and textiles, tutoring and administration services (all at 8%).
The research, commissioned by Santander Universities to support their sixth annual Entrepreneurship Awards, which recognises and supports student entrepreneurs from across the UK, reveals the most common reason for students to start a business or joint venture is to pursue a hobby or personal interest (70%). This is followed by financial motivation (58%), and work experience (26%).
Students are aiming high with ambitious plans for growth. Almost half of all student entrepreneurs (46%) expect their turnover to increase by up to 50% over the next five years, with an additional 10% aiming for a 250% increase in turnover.
Matt Hutnell, director of Santander Universities UK, commented: “Student entrepreneurs are an important contributor to the UK economy and it’s great to see an increase of over 30% since last year. It’s also encouraging that many plan to stick with their business as their main career after graduation when their potential to flourish will be vast.
“Juggling running a business with studying is not an easy task and the prevalence of these businesses demonstrates skill and initiative from UK students. Santander recognises the importance of supporting and encouraging these young business leaders to dare to invent, innovate, create and be entrepreneurial and this is the very essence of our Entrepreneurship Awards.”
Post-university business plans
The Santander Universities study questioned students about their future plans for their businesses and found that 26% expect to pursue it as a career when they graduate. Over half (57%) said they would continue the business as a second job or hobby once they finish university and 8% said the business would continue under the guidance of someone else. Just 3% said they would close it down.
Fraser Doherty, founder of SuperJam, commented: “Starting a business whilst still a student can be a very exciting as well as daunting experience. I would encourage young people to just go for it and to not be afraid of failure. You’ll learn as you go and there is lots of support and information available.”
Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards
The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards support and encourage university students and recent graduates to pursue their business ideas through a national pitching competition to identify the best student and graduate businesses from Santander Universities’ 81 partner universities within two categories; Important day-to-day Products and Services and Technology and Mobile Applications.
The eight winning entries, a Winner and Runner-Up within each sub division (Ideas Stage and Start Up) for each category, were selected by a panel of judges consisting of a blend of successful entrepreneurs, previous winners, and senior members of Santander UK and academia for cash prizes of up to £15,000.
The Winning Projects
Important day-to-day Products and Services
Winner for Start-up: UniGreenScheme – University of Birmingham
Runner-up for Start-up: Power a life – University of Strathclyde
Winner Idea Stage: AllDay Designs – University of Strathclyde
Runner-Up Idea Stage: Staels Design Ltd – University of Glasgow
Technology and Mobile Applications
Winner for Start-up: Motion Metrics – Imperial College London
Runner-up for Start-up: Hoxton Analytics – University College London
Winner Idea Stage: Yonder – London School of Economics
Runner-Up Idea Stage: MeeTwo – Birkbeck, University of London
The Start-Up winner in the Technology and Mobile Applications category, Motion Metrics founded by students from Imperial College London, created a digital ski coach that analyses skier technique to provide actionable feedback and help users improve at the sport. Jamie Grant, co-founder of Motion Metrics commented: “It’s incredible to win these awards and it will make a huge kick-start to the business.”
The Start-Up winner in the Important day-to-day Products and Services, UniGreenScheme was founded by students from University of Birmingham, is an asset resale service which collects and sells surplus laboratory equipment for UK universities. The funds that the scheme generates are put back into frontline research in laboratories on topics from cancer research to crop security. Michael McLeod, founder of UniGreenScheme commented: “Winning was a massive surprise and a big boost for the whole team. These awards will enable us to enter a new phase of growth, get more universities on board and ultimately prevent more equipment from going to waste.”
The winning entries also benefit from mentoring and support from senior Santander UK teams and Talent Cupboard, who have teamed up with Santander Universities UK for this year’s awards, will be offering a complete digital transformation to the winners.