Finally, it’s time for some upbeat student news here at Young Academic as young London-based entrepreneur has just sold his franchise to a corporate giant for an impressive £500,000. If you are a rather peckish member of the student community then you have probably heard of www.eatstudent.co.uk – the brainchild of Josh Magidson and saviour to any of you that like having your munchies delivered straight to your halls or student house.
With all the depressing recent news regarding tuition fees and the government abandonment of UK students, at least Magidson can hold his head up high. He set up his business whilst at University, latching onto the idea that starving students are more than happy to pay for their food to be delivered right to their lap.
Along came fast food giants Just-Eat who have snapped up his franchise, paid him half a million quid and put him in their swanky headquarters in Farringdon. A far cry from the days that Josh was working from his student bedroom, but he is keen to point out that he won’t be giving out any freebies.
“I’m doing much better than I expected to be doing at my age. That’s all I’m willing to say. I don’t want to go out to dinner with my friends and be expected to pay for everyone…” he said. (Stingy git!)
The concept was thought up back in 2006 at the end of a night out on the Nottingham tiles. “Some friends and I were desperate for a pizza, but we couldn’t find menus or phone numbers anywhere.” In the end they went hungry, but it got Josh thinking. “I just couldn’t believe there was nowhere on the internet that had all this information.”
Just £50 later in hosting costs and after much hassling of local takeaways the idea was well on its way. “When we launched it, we didn’t have to spend any money on marketing; we just relied on word of mouth.”
Although Josh does see Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, as an influence – the Londoner didn’t feel the need to drop out of his studies to develop the site. “The website was always a side project while we were studying, earning us about £200 per week,” Josh says. “We would spend a few weeks at the beginning of each term setting it up and making sure it was all running OK.”
When he graduated, however, it was a different matter. “The job market was so bad that I decided to take on the project full time.” Josh recruited Edward Green, a friend from school who had just finished a History degree at Cambridge University. They both invested £4,000 each of private money to improve the website before they started approaching big companies for investment. “We had proof of concept and the business was growing. We just needed some serious money to take it to the next level.”
In July this year the universities minister David Willetts caused mild controversy by suggesting that if graduates couldn’t find a job they should start their own businesses. “We have some odd definitions of what constitutes a graduate job,” said Willets. “The most vivid example of that is that setting up your own business does not constitute a graduate job.” Josh agrees. “Most people go back and live at home when they leave university. They don’t have a mortgage and they don’t have a family. It’s the best time to start a business.”
He is also well aware of the risks: “I obviously wouldn’t recommend that people plough a lot of money into it, but even if the venture isn’t a success after a year or two, you have great experience that could help you get a job.”
For Josh this is only the beginning. “We’re looking to grow the business 100 per cent every month,” he says. “The key is to spread to new universities.” Next up are Bristol, Sheffield, Warwick and Liverpool in January and within the next two years he wants Eatstudent to be in every university in the country. It doesn’t stop there. “My ambition is to take it not just national but international.
There are some great university cultures outside the UK.” So, watch out. Eatstudent could be coming to a university near you, and just as Zuckerberg noted the student population’s capacity for endless socialising, Josh Magidson knows not to underestimate student demand for fast food.
So, surely an inspiration for any of you guys out there looking to start your own business or franchise. All it takes is a great idea, some initiative and determination. Why not let Young Academic know if you are looking to start such a scheme – as always – [email protected]