6 Unique Student Start-ups

5th January 2017 Chris Clark Careers and Finance

People planning a start up

The idea of juggling your degree with managing a business can seem almost impossible. While we all want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, it’s difficult to know where to start with a start-up and the potential of failure can easily hold you back. Although you may not reach the heights achieved by renowned student start-ups Facebook, Google or Dropbox, success can be very possible. In fact, around 24% of UK students start a business while at university.  So if you need inspiration, here are 6 unique student start-ups that have found success.


An image of Bio-Bean
Image courtesy of wired.co.uk

Bio-Bean is the first company in the world to industrialise the process of recycling waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuels. They basically create useful products such as biomass pellets, Coffee Logs, biodiesel and biochemical out of waste coffee grounds.

Co-founder and CEO of Bio-Bean, Arthur Kay came up with the idea while studying architecture at UCL in 2012.  The company has since gone on to win the 2014 Santander Entrepreneurship Awards and the Virgin Media Business VOOM awards, after Kay was chosen by Richard Branson himself.

Kay states, ‘the one piece of advice I give to young entrepreneur starting off is keep it very, very simple, don’t over complicate things and make sure that if you are going to set up a business, make sure that you could explain to your grandmother in layman’s terms.’

Read up on Bio-Bean here.

Panda Skateboards

An image of Jamie Gamble
Image courtesy of startups.co.uk

At the tender age of 18, entrepreneur and Amersham & Wycombe College student Jamie Gamble came up with the idea of Panda Skateboards, which manufactures skateboards from bamboo instead of the conventional maple wood. This makes the skateboards stronger and lighter, not to mention more environmentally-friendly, saving maple wood from deforestation.

Amble has been awarded the title of ‘National Entrepreneur of the Year’ 2016 by Dragons’ Den star Peter Jones CBE and has received a £5,000 investment to allow him to expand his start-up business and run it full-time.

Pick Protection

Image courtesy of home.bt.com

Pick Protection is a company that supplies alarms, each referred to as ‘The Personal Guardian’. Such alarms are a discrete personal security device designed for women and can be attached to a bra strap and concealed under clothes. The alarm cleverly connects your phone to an independent monitoring service which can send the police to your exact location if need be.

Graduate Rebecca Pick decided to invent the alarm after the rape of a fellow student at the University of Strathclyde. Pick has since won 1st place in the 2015 Santander Entrepreneurship Awards and the alarms are available to pre-order in the UK.

See more here.


Image courtesy of cycl.bike

Luca Amaduzzi, Agostino Stilli and Simon Bardick set up the company Cycl while studying a Masters in Innovation Creativity and Leadership at City University London. Cycl are best known for their ‘WingLights’ which are directional indicators for bicycles that attach to the end of handlebars.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the trio went on to win 3rd place in Santander’s 60 second Pitch awards and 2nd place in the 2015 Santander Entrepreneurship Awards. WingLights are set to be a major success in reducing the 19,000 cyclist causalities that occur every year.

Get some WingLights here.

Hoxton Analytics

Image courtesy of getelastic.com

Hoxton Analytics provides a device that cleverly counts footfall in shops and monitors demographics of the shoppers without video surveillance or invasion of privacy. It detects the shoe type and size of each shopper to decipher their gender, weather they’re alone or in a group and even their age category. This in turn can help retailers measure their customers and increase revenue.

Hoxton Analytics is the brain child of Owen McCormack and Will Thomas, who met while studying Big Data Analytics at UCL in 2014. The pair were runners-up in the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards and the algorithm for Hoxton Analytics is only set to improve.

Discover more about Hoxton Analytics here. Related Urbanest Hoxton.

Power a Life

Image courtesy of poweralife.com

Power A Life began in 2012 when Glasgow students Jeremie Warner and Stephen Spiers ventured to West Africa. Focusing on Sustainable Development and children’s education in Africa, they created Power A Life, which empowers African children with solar light.

The products sold on Power A Life include high quality mobile phone power accessories to allow portable charging. Every product purchased on their site empowers an African school child with light, allowing them to study at night, which consequently makes their future brighter.

Warner and Spiers were also runners-up in the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards and their start-up has led to these children’s improved school grades.

See their story here.

Have you tried to launch a start-up? Let us know in the comments!

Chris Clark

Chris Clark

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