“I set up studentbeans.com when I was just 22, two weeks before graduating from Birmingham University,” says Eder. “I read Marketing Judo from cover to cover. When you’re in a fight, you can use the weight of your opponent to your advantage. The premise of the book is that the same applies to business.”
Eder and his co-founder brother Michael ploughed £7k of their savings into studentbeans.com and received a £2k low-interest loan from The Prince’s Trust. Determined not to be held back by their shoe-string budget, they brokered creative deals with the blue chips in the city. “I spent a lot of time sleeping on hard floors during those first few months when I was travelling around the country promoting the site,” says Eder. “So I negotiated a deal with The Accor Group. In return for hotel rooms, we gave them free advertising on our website.”
The idea behind studentbeans.com is simple. By clicking on their city and a category (eg: “eating out” or “entertainment”), students can print out free discount vouchers for local establishments.
“Being in an unfamiliar city and living on a limited budget is tough for students,” explains Eder. “Studentbeans.com helps them make the most of their university experience, and gives brands unrivalled access to a loyal student audience. We hoped the site would become as much of a staple to university life as the beloved baked beans, hence the name.”
So far, the site has pulled in sales of £400k, with 130,000 registered students and 700 companies. And it’s already turning a profit. “We aim to hit the £1m-turnover mark within 24 months,” says Eder. “We’ve just appointed Daniel Nabarro, founder of lingerie site figleaves, as a non-executive director to help us take the business to the next level."
Now, Eder wants to use his experience to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs. “I stood up in front of a classroom full of teenagers at a local school and asked them what they were planning to do after their GCSEs. The typical answer was, ‘A-levels. University. Get a job.’ Yes, television programmes such as Dragons’ Den and The Apprentice are bringing entrepreneurs into the limelight – but not enough children realise that starting their own business is a viable option.”