Progress Update: Tweekey
Tweekey Bags is a project that was started by Ben Ivey at the University of Exeter to fill a niche gap in the student’s sports stash marketplace. Ben identified that there was an underlying demand for university branded sports bags throughout sports societies, something that was going unfulfilled. Yet, due to the nature of the product – a university branded accessory – Ben faced a challenging process being able to gain the rights to use the university logo on his product. Though his passion, enthusiasm and pitching ability he was able to convince the university to allow him to do so – the fist student of my knowledge to be awarded the right – enabling him to create his business product.
He then rapidly developed a prototype product, utilising his Chinese language skills (developed thanks to a study abroad module on his course) to source a supplier. He then started building contacts and selling into the multiple sports clubs that Exeter has to offer in 2013 – something that went extremely well, seeing his product stocked in the uni shop as well as helping him win a Innovation Centre start up investment.
2014 saw Tweekey develop further as a company, expanding into six different universities across the UK (Kent, Surrey, Bristol, Aberdeen, Dundee & Liverpool) alongside the University of Exeter. This has helped Ben sell over 400 bags this academic year – a fantastic achievement considering the challenges that are incorporated when trying to use someone else’s logo on your products! However, Ben is clear about why his business has been successful (i) it is a quality product that he is proud of (ii) the product generates money for the clubs as well as the universities every time that it is sold. Therefore, it is in their interest to help promote and sell his products – a great business model that might mean he slightly reduces his margin per product but dramatically increases the number of potential sales. I will keep you up to date with how Tweekey develops over the next few months right her on the blog – you can also check out the Tweekey Bags website directly.
When we spoke Ben was also keen to talk about some of the fantastic events he has been to over the last few months that have helped him develop as an entrepreneur. This included the Start Up Bus competition that saw six buses from across Europe bring some of the brightest young entrepreneurs together for a conference in Vienna. Along the way the entrepreneurs were tasked with creating new business ideas that they would pitch once they had arrived. Ben described this as a world-wind of experience, with his team coming third in the European competition gaining them an invitation to Silicon Valley later in the year.
Ben also suggested attending the Power To Achieve, Millionaire Mind Intensive and Unleash The Power Within conferences that aim to built upon core skills as an entrepreneur. The first of these, the Power To Achieve conference, covers a wide range of different areas of interest before focusing specifically on the limiting beliefs that hold you back in business. The second, the Millionaire Mind Intensive, explores how to manage your money – splitting it into “pots” that ensure that you have the right portfolio balance. The final conference ran by Tony Robins, a well known motivational speaker, looks at the psychology of being successful. I was really pleased to hear about Ben’s suggestions of worthwhile events to go to in the UK – indeed, self development is one of the most important aspects of being an entrepreneur so do check out some of these events in case they are of interest for you!
On a business from this week I had the exciting experience of launching the first international website – Singing Lessons Dublin in Ireland. With Ireland being a country boasting some of the worlds best musicians (U2, Sinéad O’Connor, Thin Lizzy) it was a really significant moment for myself not least as I am half Irish. Indeed, this is a big step for the business as we explore entering the music tuition markets in countries outside of the UK – I will keep you updated on how successful it is, at the moment I have no idea how it will develop! On the home front the business continues to expand taking on teachers for the Guitar Lessons Derby and Singing Lessons Portsmouth websites. If you have any questions about the conferences mentioned in this blog article don’t hesitate to get in touch [email protected].