A young entrepreneur's story: from Young Enterprise to startup

Young entrepreneur and Simply Business intern, Gina Cesman, tells us about Young Enterprise, the programme that lead to the founding of her company.

She’s also let us in on how small changes can make big differences and her inspirations for the future.

Young Enterprise: creating a generation of entrepreneurs

When my school first told us we would be participating in Young Enterprise’s Project Business scheme, I was a little ambivalent. A year on and things couldn’t be more different. Young Enterprise is an annual competition where teenagers create and run their own company. For some it’s just another school project, but for us it was a real business venture.

The project gave us space to explore innovative and creative ideas, and it was through this process that we created our company Packit.

PackIt: a gap in the market (the 5p bag charge)

When we founded Packit we wanted to explore whether we could discover a problem and then develop the solution. After months of product testing, market research and product development, it became clear that things weren’t working as well as we’d hoped they would.

That was until, with perfect timing, a new problem was created for us: the 5p bag charge.

When the charge was introduced, Packit realised there was a gap in the market that needed to be targeted. Although bags-for-life were already providing a passable solution, customers often forgot them, and that’s before you even take style and efficiency into account. Enter Caddi.

Caddi was born as a stylish, efficient way to store your plastic bags whether it be at home, in your car or anywhere on the go. Made from neoprene, the Caddi is able to hold six plastic bags or three bags-for-life. With a keychain at the top, Caddi can be clipped to your keys, shopping trolleys or anywhere else you like. Storing plastic bags has never been easier and more accessible.

From Caddi to Doggi

On a roll, we explored other options for Caddi and realised our product could have another use. Soon after product testing we released Doggi and took the markets by storm. The concept - and the name - was simple. While pooper scoopers have been around for a while, the market was crying out for an easy, stylish way to store and transport dog bags.

Doggi has undergone huge transformation from when we first conceived it, from a functional but lifeless dog bag holder to a fun, slick one. Doggi also has a metal clip which can be attached to a dog’s lead and is sold with two rolls of recyclable plastic pooch bags.

Packit now consists of Benjamin Fraser, Nathan Conn, Sam Kahn and myself. Most recently we’ve been in contact with the Arcadia group and were informed that “the company has real legs” by CEO Ian Grabiner.

Packit is currently in negotiation with the UK’s largest food chain supplier and merchandise retailer about stocking in over 200 stores. We are continuously growing and evolving the brand, following the latest trends to compete with emerging markets and always ensuring the customer’s experience is quick, easy and simple.

My inspiration: Skinny Dip

When I’m asked about my inspiration as an entrepreneur, there’s one company that always springs to mind. You may know them from their Dragons Den’s pitch or their new store in Carnaby Street, but like Packit, Skinny Dip found a lack of stylish and functional products in the market and set about solving that problem. Their area? Phone cases.

The company was founded in 2011 by James Gold, Richard Gold and best friend Lewis Blitz after a ‘casual conversation’ over the launch of Apple iPhone cases consisting of only three colours, black, white or grey.

The boys, all 18 at the time, set out to design quirky phone cases that would shake up the market and took their ideas to Dragon’s Den.

The trio was able to win £120,000 from the BBC2 show as well as investment from Entrepreneur Peter Jones in exchange for a 30% stake in the company. Skinny Dip now has exclusivity to stores such as River Island and Topshop, as well as their own store in Carnaby Street in London.

The brand has since expanded their range, building to a total turnover of £1.1 million.

We have always seen our company as on a similar journey to Skinny Dip.

Like them, we are injecting style into a boring market and making it exciting. When we met with Richard Gold, Co founder of Skinny Dip, he told us that when they first went on to pitch to The Arcadia Group, things didn’t quite go according to plan.

When they came to show their test products, the CEO saw an unattractive grey bag on the table and said that the packaging was absolutely awful. It wasn’t the most encouraging thing to hear, but like Richard we’ve learnt that the customer has to have an exceptional experience of your product and it always has to be quality down to the last details.

This article is written by Gina Cesman, an intern at Simply Business.

Fledgling entrepreneur with a similar story? Let us know below.

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