After securing great placement year positions and gaining invaluable business experience, Samuel and Louis decide to start their own business Stand Out which specialises in equipping young people with skills, experience and opportunities to realise their full potential.
Sam and Louis, tell us about yourselves…
“I’m Sam Owens and I am a Pricing Manager at GSK with a background in data analytics. My business partner Louis Druce is a consultant for PWC, covering a wide breadth of business disciplines. Most importantly, together we are the co-founders of Stand Out.”
Tell us more about your start up…
“Stand Out specialises in equipping young people with all the skills, experiences & opportunities they need to realise their full potential. After a successful trial period of 1:1 coaching with students at Birmingham City University (BCU), we have scaled up our business model so that we can provide interactive workshops to larger groups of students. These workshops will help each student create a career plan, as well as equip them with all the skills needed throughout the application process.”
What made you jump at the chance of coming on BSEEN?
“What stands out about BSEEN is the ongoing support from experts; from the training week through to our monthly meetings with our BSEEN mentor, the value has been huge. The business grant also allowed us to invest in materials for careers fairs to engage with students, as well as getting a professional website up and running.”
What do you think you have learned the most from your BSEEN journey?
“Our intake of BSEEN candidates has had an extremely challenging time with the COVID pandemic. We think the most important learning for any business, big or small, is to adapt to our new surroundings. If we sit and wait for times to return to how they were, we may not have a business to go back to. If we can adapt to the new normal, we could be the business that grows the most and comes out of it stronger. At Stand Out, we’re using the time as a chance to accelerate our plans for our new business model, building and adapting our plan so that we can hit our timelines regardless of the pandemic.”
What has been your business stand out moment since being on BSEEN?
“Stand Out’s best day is definitely when we went to the BCU careers fair to get students to sign up for our services. We weren’t sure if students would part with £50 for 1:1 mentoring, but we were so excited to secure 20 phone consultations, which resulted in 10 client sign ups. We then threw an after party for BCU students in Pop World, where we bumped into the lead team of a UK theme park who invited us to pitch for £10k of consultancy work. It was great to secure our first 10 clients at the careers fair, and those who didn’t sign up still got to experience a great Stand Out party!”
Any advice for entrepreneurial students or graduates thinking about starting their own business?
“We believe the number one thing that stops people succeeding with a new business is how overwhelming it can feel. The puzzle can just seem too big and when you feel like you need to do everything, it’s hard to do anything. My advice would be to do something, take the first step, then work out the next step. By moving in a direction, you can then work out if it’s the right or wrong one, but it’s so important you move in a direction and don’t stand still. Try new things, build on the wins and learn from the failures.”
What are your next steps for your business?
“We are scaling up to become a recruitment company that specialises in training university graduates. We will do this by having an online platform called the “Stand Out Campus”, which will act as a hub for university students to learn how to get their dream job. The campus will have everything from CV building to interview training, as well as direct links to opportunities. The campus will be free to use for all candidates, we will instead monetise the business by matching candidates to open positions, with a fee per successful candidate charged to the hiring business. In the meantime, we will continue to run workshops for students in schools, academies and universities so that we can fund the production of our online platform.”