The idea of a start-up has undoubtedly come across the minds of many students during their years of study. While most would not attempt to bring their concepts to reality, there are the occasional few who braved the risk, dedication and difficulties of running an online start-up. For two Warwick freshman, the hard work paid off, landing them in the lucky 10% of successful online ventures.
Zach van Driel and Bruno Banks were only in their first year of attending the University of Warwick when they saw an opportunity to pursue a rather unique university experience. Fashion-savvy Bruno and talented website designer Zach saw the opportunity to harmonize their different skillsets to fulfil their entrepreneurial desires. The Bow Tie Guys, first launched in June of 2014, has sold thousands of homemade origami bow ties, brooches and pocket squares since the start. Their quirky designs and unique vision attracted a community of like-minded individuals, and their custom-design service proved to be a critical selling point for the budding business. In tandem with their product aesthetics, their site also displays flair in its layout and designs, which captivate their audience.
When asked the most difficult aspect of juggling university work, a social life and their online business, both of them immediately mentioned “setting your priorities straight”. The pressure of unforeseen bulk purchases, maintaining a social life and keeping up with a hectic lecture schedule, they admit that time management is one of their biggest struggles. For instance, it does not come as a surprise that time dedicated to a start-up leads to a decrease in down time with friends in order to keep up with studies at the same time. Thus, set priorities become the foundation of how time is allocated.
To tackle the problems with time management, the two entrepreneurs credit efficiency. For Zach and Bruno, this could mean watching lectures while folding or choosing between hiring or not hiring help in constructing the bowties. On the whole, however, they are proud to have done this fairly well. To aid their entrepreneurial skills, they also attended a series of talks and seminars presented by various societies in the university, which they highly recommend to all students.
Zach and Bruno believe that the key to starting an online startup is to find a gap in the market, as there is great difficulty competing in a saturated market as a low budget start up. For Bow Tie Guys, their target market proved to be their window of opportunity. For those open-minded individuals who strive to identify themselves with anomalous fashion accessories and stand out from the crowd, finding the perfect bowtie to compliment their personality proved to satisfy their needs. Their success proved that their instincts in catering to this market were right.
Connections proved crucial to Zach and Bruno over time as the business grew. In particular, they began to increase exposure to their business by previously connecting with an individual owning multiple fashion blog integral accounts, on which they have agreed to feature Bow Tie Guys’ products. This move will definitely bring in numerous potential customers. “You will never know how people you meet now may help you grow your business in the future,” Zach and Bruno say. Even to those whose interest lie beyond entrepreneurship, this insight could be applicable to most university students.
Both Zach and Bruno will be graduating from the university this summer, and while they will have to make some tough decisions regarding the direction of the business, we hope that Bow Tie Guys will continue to grow and become a prime example of successful start-ups. Who knows, this success story could encourage many to pursue their creative and entrepreneurial aspirations.