Self promotion

October 22, 1999

Oxford frowns on it; Bill Gates made a million at it; Strathclyde positively encourages it. Anne Sebba reports on the UK undergraduates setting up their own companies

Matthew Ross (left), 21, read politics at Manchester and graduated last summer with a 2:1.

"I'd always been interested in music and clubbing and since I was about 15 I have organised mobile discos for friends. In my first year at university I had lots of free time and joined a local promotions company. I learnt everything from them."

Ross negotiated a flexible arrangement whereby he worked unpaid at times he specified. In return he was given free entry to clubs and events.

Towards the end of his second year, Ross and his housemate, John Mathieson, decided to try something similar. They raised Pounds 3,000 of capital with a succession of summer jobs. NatWest Bank offered them an overdraft facility and free banking together with a small business adviser.

Ross and his partner then signed an agreement with a club to promote its entertainment one night a week. This meant that although they did not have to buy equipment they had to book the DJs, find sponsorship and promote and market the event. "We took money at the door but the club benefited from bar sales."

In February, Ross and Mathieson packed it in to work for finals. Mathieson says: "We did make money out of it, which paid for a good holiday, but don't do this in your third year."


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