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Musical flair builds entrepreneurial spirit

Posted on 14 July 2015

Will Howard, 21, from Oxford, learned to play piano at the age of eight and has gone on to build his own piano while studying Music at York. Sourcing parts for the custom-designed instrument, he plans on donating it to the Department of Music on completion. Alongside his passion for music, Will has set up different businesses every year at York, and hopes to launch his latest venture, new social network Börd, on graduation.

Will Howard

Will says: “I’ve always been passionate about music, and started playing the piano first before learning to play the trombone and sing. I came to York to study Music as I was attracted to a well-rounded course that was both vocational but also comprehensive in covering the history of music, as well as composing and conducting.

“The idea to build my own piano came about after studying the module ‘The Piano Today’. I love a challenge, and have enjoyed sourcing the parts which I’ve tried to obtain solely from the UK and have recycled other parts from three old pianos. I plan to paint it in bright colours and donate it to the University on completion.

“Throughout my time at York I’ve been inspired to set up small entrepreneurial projects each year. In first year I established a music agency, WJA Howard, representing local York musicians and helping with their promotion and marketing. After selling this, a friend and I decided to experiment and see if we could set up a profitable enterprise with just £160. We established a small t-shirt business in second year, Lyme Street, designing and manufacturing 6-8 t-shirt designs which made a nice profit.

“Right now I am in the middle of applying for start-up funding for my biggest entrepreneurial project to date – a new social network called Börd. The idea is similar to Pinterest but with live technology, designed to streamline the time you spend online by having more control of the content you’d like to see.

“After graduation I intend to move home to Oxford to develop the app full-time for 6 months. I will balance this with continuing my part-time job in remote social media marketing for Worldwide Chain Stores.”

Will graduates with a BA (2:1) in Music on 18 July.