Hungry 'Generation Z' are an entrepreneurial breed
Today's students are adapting their thinking and developing their skills to deal with the uncertain world they now face when they graduate. If they can’t find a job, more say they are prepared to take the plunge and set up their own business. Karen Dent reports.
Case Study: Matthew Heap
DURHAM graduate Matt Heap was midway through his four-year engineering degree when he seriously started to consider setting up his own business.
Now the just-graduated 23-year-old has two – online student accommodation portal Sturents.com and student text book trading website iswapbooks.co.uk.
"I’d always had an ambition to work for myself," said Mr Heap, pictured right, who counts a number of relatives with their own businesses as his inspiration.
"It was only really in my second year when I really started to see an opportunity of what I could do."
He set up Sturents.com last year after receiving advice from the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning and the newly-formed university Entrepreneurial Society. The chill wind of wind of recession and the difficulty in landing a graduate job have helped push more people into an entrepreneurial mindset, he believes.
"During my last year, there was a lot of awareness and people were finding it hard to get jobs. The job market is so tough – people are coming out with Firsts in law and they still can’t get a job," he said.
Mr Heap reckons that many graduates now consider the idea of starting their own enterprise almost like a year out while they try to pin down the job they want.
"It’s a very good use of a year to do something for yourself," he said.
Sturents.com, which is free for students and accommodation providers to use and makes its money from advertising, has already spread from Durham to Newcastle, York, Manchester and Liverpool. Mr Heap is aiming to have 10 cities covered by the end of the year and the business is in the running for a prestigious International Property Award.
"It’s certainly a long-term project; we’ve expanded very rapidly and we’re starting to see quite a nice income," he said. "It’s now almost a revolution in the way students can find accommodation."
iswapbooks, which has been running for five months, is also expanding quickly with 18 universities signed up and 3,000 books online.