Technical trio has talent
How three enterprising young people from Hull turned a business idea into a reality
Left to right: Oliver Wilson, Andy Selby, and Alex Lancaster, the co-founders of Xuro Computers.
Oliver Wilson has always been into computers.
Since about the age of ten he has enjoyed taking them apart and putting them back together again to find out how they work and what all the different electrical components do.
As his knowledge grew, he began to do small jobs for friends and family and upgrade their desktop computers by installing newer and faster components to ensure their PCs could run the latest software.
Then, in September, he decided to turn his hobby into a business by setting up Xuro Computers in partnership with his friends Andrew Selby (who handles sales and finance) and Alex Lancaster (who deals with marketing).
The enterprising former pupils of Malet Lambert School now run the company from the home of Oliver's mum and dad in Garden Village.
They have an entire room dedicated to Xuro-related matters which is equipped with two computers and desks, a coffee table to hold meetings around, and a filing cabinet bought specifically as a place to store their invoices and purchase orders.
Looking back at how it all started, Oliver (17), said: "We were at a party one night and got talking about jobs and what we'd like to do after we left school.
"Most of our friends and people we knew were getting part-time jobs but we decided to be different and create our own work.
"We had a meeting the next day and decided on the company name, a logo, and the main aspects of our business plan."
Help at hand
Setting up a new enterprise can present a range of challenges for anyone, but Oliver, Andy (17) and Alex (16) sought out as much help as they could find in the early stages of their venture.
They gained advice from Hull City Council's Youth Enterprise Team, and they were supported with a £1,000 grant from the John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank (see info box opposite).
Xuro's aim is to provide fully-customised and affordable computers that meet customers' budgets, along with high levels of customer service and a reliable upgrade service.
"We are really grateful for the grant and the advice we have received so far as it helped us turn our ideas into a reality," adds Oliver.
"At the moment we are all studying various subjects at Wilberforce College and we run Xuro part-time on top of doing our course work.
We're going to keep developing the Xuro business and hopefully it will continue to grow steadily over the next few years." The company's website is up and running and the team are taking orders.
Young entrepreneur Richard Myers of Hull-based HWS Hosting is acting as their business adviser, and they have also had the help of Yorkshire Women's Enterprise Champion Maureen Foers OBE, along with the continued support of the Hull Youth Enterprise Partnership.
Meanwhile, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week held in November, they passed on some of their business ideas and tips to primary school children from Hull at a 'Make £5 Blossom' event which was held to enable children to learn business skills.
"Oliver, Andrew and Alex have a sound business plan and they have the skills, teamwork and determination required to make the business grow," says Charles Cracknell, Hull City Council's Employment and Youth Enterprise Manager, and the holder of the Queen's Award for Enterprise Promotion.
"We are committed to supporting and nurturing the talent of young entrepreneurs and I encourage any other young people in Hull with business ideas and ambitions to contact us for help and advice."
The John Cracknell Youth Enterprise Bank was set up in 2003 and in 2009 received a donation from the late philanthropist and businessman Jack Brignall MBE to support young people from east Hull.
It has so far supported more than 150 young entrepreneurs in Hull, including helping them buy business stationery, photography equipment, bicycle repair equipment, chocolate making equipment, dance costumes for local bands, and hairdressing equipment for mobile hairdressers.
For more information about this and any of the above visit www.youthenterprise.co.uk or www.gew.org.uk
For more details on Xuro Computers visit www.xuro.co.uk
Badger on board
Former stars of the BBC TV series The Apprentice have pledged to inspire a new generation of young entrepreneurs in Hull.
Businesswomen Ruth Badger (pictured right) and Claire Young (pictured left) have become patrons of the Hull Youth Enterprise Partnership, a body which encourages and develops the talents of young people who have ambitions of making their mark in the business world.
"I love visiting Hull as it's an enterprising city and I really enjoy sharing my journey with budding young entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in the business world," said Ruth, who will pass on advice and tips to young people in her role as a patron.
The pair also spoke at this year's Global Entrepreneurship Week, which included a wide range of activities and business challenges for children and young people at venues across the city.
There were motivational speeches from special guests including Len Wardle, chair of the Co-operative Group, shadow chancellor Alan Johnson MP, blind mountaineer and explorer Miles Hilton-Barber, and Abhimanu Kudasamy, the High Commissioner of Mauritius.
"The week is a great opportunity for young people to develop their enterprising ideas and learn new skills," said Cllr Christine Randall, who is responsible for Education and Children's Services.
"We want to encourage young people to set up their own businesses to grow Hull's economy and attract further investment."
Supported by Hull City Council, the week was sponsored by St Stephen's, The Co-operative, Arco, KC, and BP, as well as young entrepreneurs KH Smilers, Force-7, HWS Hosting, and Amanda's Blue Orchid.
For more information visit www.youthenterprise-hull.co.uk or www.gew.org.uk.