We’re all for young talent here at TB, so each month we’ll introduce you to a bright young thing who’s all set to be the next big success story. We chat to Shell LiveWIRE finalist Andrew Jervis about his brainchild PieBoy Clothing, which aims to make university gear more appealing to today’s fashion-conscious student
Sum up the concept for PieBoy Clothing?
‘University clothing hasn’t been getting students engaged and wanting to get proud to represent their University in recent years. PieBoy’s goal is simply to change this and make University merchandising more fashion-orientated, engaging and most importantly getting students excited to represent their Universities and cities. If we look at the US model of merchandising, their students are proud to wear their University merchandise all the time. Let’s do that here!’
Where did the idea for PieBoy Clothing come from?
‘It was founded out of a realisation that a friend and myself had, which started much smaller than the whole concept that PieBoy has now evolved into. We basically noticed that Universities in the UK didn’t really offer any bobble hats, and at the time there was a huge craze sweeping the nation for bobble hats. We had some samples made, got some feedback, bought 250 and sold them on a pop-up stall in about a week. The rest is history.’
What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs trying to get an idea off the ground?
‘It may sound a little cliche but just go for it! There is no substitute for learning by doing, so I’d recommend any young entrepreneur to just get their product out there, and try and sell it. Your customers will soon tell you if it’s a good or bad idea. However, I think when starting out it’s important to mitigate the risk as much as possible. Why start out buying 300 products when you could buy 20 and test the market? If it goes well, great - buy some more.’
Talk us through your vision for the future of PieBoy…
‘We want to be the UK’s best University clothing fashion brand. We want to be recognised for our better products, more engaging brand communication and having fun!’
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be doing today?
‘Interesting…Ideally I would be travelling around the world, getting lost, experiencing new culture, eating different foods and meeting new people. I love it!’
What was your first ever job?
‘When I was a kid I used to do odd jobs for our neighbours and other people in the area for a few quid here and there, but my first proper summer job was a bit of a dream. I worked for a British soccer coaching company in the USA, coaching American kids. It was pretty awesome to get paid for doing two of the things I love so much in life: travel and sports.’
What’s top of your bucket list?
‘Getting lost in South America for several months. I did something similar a few years ago in South East Asia when I was between ventures and I loved it.’
Why do you think UK students don’t wear their university stash with pride like they do in the US?
‘I think there are a few reasons. The US model pays a lot more attention to their stash and see it as a great way for students to promote their University and also create a very viable and stable revenue stream. This emphasis has led generally to more choice and better products to what’s available in the UK. However, with the University funding cuts and hike in UK tuition fees, Universities are really starting to take a good look at all their commercial activities to raise other revenue streams. Change could be on the horizon!’
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a young entrepreneur?
‘There have been a few. Starting out by yourself can be quite daunting, especially when most of your peers are in stable careers and jobs. I think getting plugged into that enterprise network who understands and appreciates what you do is important and can help propel you along.’
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
‘An ever growing to do list! Jokes aside, doing enterprise can be amazingly rewarding, empowering and fun. It really allows you to get creative and gives you that freedom to do what the heck you want! Thats what get me up.’
What’s been your proudest moment?
‘There have been a few to be honest. Getting accepted into Entrepreneur First was amazing, and being invited to 10 Downing Street as a result of this was a privilege. Winning awards such as Shell LiveWIRE or the Manchester Business School pitching competition have also been amazing. Or quite often it just makes me proud/happy to see people I care about do well. My 6-year-old nephew who I occasionally show the odd trick to from my coaching days won his footy match the other week! Go Olly!’
I’m watching: Into the Wild
I’m reading: Steve Jobs’ Biography
I’m listening to: Foster the People
I’m surfing: TechCrunch