Entrepreneurial journeys: Spencer Barber-Harris
Spencer Barber-Harris, 20, is a first year Chemistry student at the University of York and a co-founder of Nnamdi.
As a new startup, Nnamdi is positioning itself as the one-stop-shop for printed clothing and merchandise for University of York clubs and societies with plans to expand to other colleges and universities in the future.
In advance of starting a degree in chemistry at the University of York, Spencer Barber-Harris spent his gap year as an intern at Proctor & Gamble researching chemical formulas for detergents. He soon realised that his future didn’t lie in chemistry, but he still wanted to pursue his degree course, while following his dream to become an entrepreneur at the same time. He’s also recently become President of the Entrepreneur Society at the university.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Combining my studies while starting a business is a bit of a juggle but I love providing value for people and I believe Nnamdi fills a gap in the market.
“Currently, each individual club and society is doing its own research into printing companies and trying to find the best deal they can. Some manufacturers charge extortionate prices and it can be a minefield working out not only the best price, but the type of print and/or embroidery needed as well as sourcing good quality material.
"So, our idea is to create a single online location where clubs and societies can visit. We will do all the work for them in terms of sourcing the clothing, creating the design, ordering and delivering it straight into the hands of the students.
“We set up the business in January and officially opened for business in May.”
Spencer is one of three co-founders and he believes that working closely as a team has been a key factor in his own entrepreneurial journey.
While he specialises in sales and customer experience, Samuel Humphrey, a second year computer scientist student, also at the University of York, deals with the website side of the business, while the director and visionary of the business is York alumni Mohammad Ali, founder of Opulence Growth in Bristol, which provides advice and training for new entrepreneurs.
“Mo is an incredible mentor and provides the experience we need behind the new brand. I may have great ideas, but I don’t know how to achieve them. Mo has the knowledge to help us get our vision to market.”
“The hardest part of my journey so far has been visibility, getting the word out there and really convincing people that we are here to help them and make their lives easier.
"University societies have had their systems for a long time, so trying to convince them that our way is easier, better value and more cost effective is difficult.
"We’ll feel much better when we get our first few clients on board. We can then start building case studies to show the value we can offer.”
Words of advice
“I would definitely say that starting a business is best done in a team and not on your own. So many people do it on their own and that may be fine for them. However, I know my strengths and I leave other people to their strengths.
"Everyone at Nnamdi brings something unique to the business. It means we can focus our time on what we’re good at and develop more efficiently.
“I would also advise any students, like me, interested in starting their own business to take advantage of the many enterprise events put on at the University of York. And turn up even if you don’t feel like it. I met my business partners at an event I almost didn’t go to!”
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