National Business Awards

This morning I heard from the Innovation Centre that the University of Exeter has been shortlisted for the Duke of York Award for University Entrepreneurship. This is a great achievement for all areas of the university that have worked tirelessly to improve the support of students with business and product ideas. It is also a special moment for the Innovation Centre which has been one of the key partners in the this development of entrepreneurial provision at the university. I had the fortune of see this first had during the Exeter Start Up Weekend in July, where the university had clearly invested a lot of time and money into a fantastic conference to enable current and former students develop their business ideas within 54 hours before pitching them to a group of business experts.

National Business Awards

This shows how far the support for entrepreneurs has come during the time that I studied at the University of Exeter (09-12), where even basic provision was hard sort for. As an entrepreneur at the university you can now find support and help everywhere from the Careers Centre and Ignite at the Students’ Guild to specially tailored advice by business experts at the Innovation Centre. The appointment of a Student Entrepreneur in Residence enables students to approach a former student who has experience of running a business while studying a degree, this is invaluable as balancing your workload, business and social life can be an isolating challenge.

To know that there are students just like you, dedicating their spare time to start a business while at university is undoubtedly a liberating discovery – indeed, while individual businesses are different in what they produce the core components of a business are often very similar. Student entrepreneurs therefore often face the same challenges, whether it is cash flow, holding too much stock, product development, quality control, sourcing products, advertising, client experience, profit margin, scalability to name a few. If you are a student at the University of Exeter who has, or is thinking of, starting a business don’t hesitate to get in touch with . You can find out more about National Business Awards Finalists on their website.

In terms of MGR Music Tuition I have been continuing to launch new websites across the UK, most excitingly for me releasing the Guitar Lessons York website, following drum, singing and piano websites released in York and where we already have a large group of active music students and talented teachers. It has been an extremely busy time in terms of the infrastructure of the business, having moved all the websites onto a Virtual Private Server (giving me far more control over the hosting and management of the website, preventing them from crashing due to unwelcome updates).

In addition, I have spend the last few days adding a server monitoring service to these VPS. This will enable me to record all the server data, including any downtime of the server or websites – in which case I will be notified by a call/sms/email depending on the time of day so I can jump in to ensure that the website never go down without me knowing about it. If you run a busy website, whether eCommerce, news or social facing it is critical that your website downtime is extremely low (as noted by Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network film: “let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everyone else, we don’t crash EVER! If those servers are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed! Users are fickle…”. Therefore as any business builds up, investment in safety guards and contingency plans, is a wise choice (and perhaps highlights a gradual change within a business from a start-up to a more mature going concern).

As such here at MGR Music Tuition it has been a year of re-investment into the business, to ensure that I can keep it growing in a manageable manner by laying strong foundations to build upon. I hope to see the results of this in early 2016 and as ever I will keep you updated with my progress!

Posted under Business Innovation, Innovation Centre

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on August 6, 2015

How to Make Money From Websites

It is a question that I often get ask, indeed, one that I often pose to myself. “How can you make money from websites?” Or the rather more general “How do I make money on the internet?” In todays world there are literally billions of people on the internet, just waiting to spend their hard earned cash on everything from everyday items to luxury gifts there must be certain categories of business model that cater for these. There is a market for everything on the internet – so how can you capitalise on it?

Well broadly from all my experience in running an online business for the past five years there are basically 10 ways to make money from running websites on the internet (and to date I have only be successful in one method, in a small niche market). Here is the low down on how to make money from a website;

1. Advertising – literally the answer to every question I ever asked to a student with a business idea when I asked “how are you going to monetise it?”. The truth it unless you are Google or Facebook you are not going to be able to generate a primary income, comparable to your best friends that have just secured corporate jobs in London, from having pay-per-click adversing on your website. Even websites with thousands of hits per day will struggle to make more than a few pounds from their blog – think of similarities in Spotify for musicians. Pay-per-click is great but won’t cut it.

2. Sell Advertising – the second most common answer when people understand the financials behind pay-per-click adversing. This is a tough sell, you will need to approach a company and ask them to redirect X% of their adversing budget to your buy advertising space on your website. My question is to you – have you got the stats to back up your claim that adversing on your website will increase their businesses sales by X% or is X% more efficient than their current adversing? Without the stats why would any company risk the investment in advertising on your website? Still once you have built a brand it can be a great source of income providing that you keep adding value to the paying business.

3. Email Marketing – also known as list building. I have several books on this at home but am yet to read them – the old style internet entrepreneurs swear by them, but for me personally I have little knowledge in creating massive mailing lists & how to monetise them. Therefore I would give this as a neutral idea as I am not qualified to comment on it – read more by Googling “how to create a list building website”.

4. Create a paid board – job websites are a great example of this. Essentially people pay to be connected, whether it is employers paying to access employers (or visa-versa), plumbers and house owners or any other connecting of people. If you generate a good niche website that performs better than any other within that area of the market you can generate a great income – indeed, here at the Innovation Centre Environment Job is an example of this model.

5. Affiliate Marketing – the idea that if an individual goes onto a buy a product advertised on your website, having clicked on that link, then you receive a % of the sale price. Again a great source of passive income, but painfully low in terms of money coming in. Indeed, you are at the mercy of the product being so good people want to buy it. Possible but again a hard sell.

6. Sell Your Own Product – this tends to be the most profitable way of making money on the internet. Having a great product in the first place and using the internet as a marketplace for that product. The website therefore is only the shop, rather that purpose of the entire business. I have known students at the University of Exeter to make a decent secondary income – and at times primary income – from selling great products from their websites (Young Ones, Mammal Swag, Jollie’s Goods).

7. Sell a service – if you don’t have a product then selling a service, yours or someone else’s, will fulfil the same goal. In my instance I originally sold the service of “guitar lessons” before graduating to sell the service of “guitar students” to other teachers across the UK. Done correctly it can be a really lucrative form of income.

8. Paid Content – I have known of a few businesses at UOE that have created a website/app model around people paying for content. Indeed, there was a very interesting medical business that wished to gain students as subscribers for their exam-revision tools that looked promising. If you can explore a niche where (i) quality information is needed promptly and (ii) few other sources provide it for free it can work well. However, I would look at the examples of newspapers that have gone to a paid content model – The Sun for example – that must find it hard to compete against the many media outlets that can generate the same stories and place them online free.

9. Sell the website design – if you have designed the website yourself then sell the design to other people. This is great way of making money and you can continue to run your own website as it normally is, while advertising at the same time that people can buy the template you have designed should they like it!

10. Sell the website – literally the design, domain and content. I have heard of websites being sold for £100,000, if they boast great traffic in a field that a new company wants to get into – essentially they snap up the pre-existing website than take months to build up their own one. Having tried models 6, 7 and 9 I thought I would give model 10 a go this summer! Therefore I have created a website that goes after one thing…website traffic. I have no idea if anyone will ever want to buy it, but with over 44,000 searches per month in a low competition are of the market hopefully with a solid domain name I can get 20,000 hits per month on the website. Imagine being one of the definitive sources of information in this area of the market – I am sure that will be of interest to a company somewhere. However, trying to avoid the “if I build it, they will come” attitude I will try and monetise it in secondary ways with a collection of all the above methods. From this I will be able to feedback over the next three, six and twelve months – what really is the best way to make money from a website.

Posted under Innovation Centre, New Project, Student Businesses

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on June 27, 2015

Tags:

Exeter StartUp Weekend 2015

The Innovation Centre is excited to be holding its first Google Startup Weekend this summer. Held between July 17 – 19th 2015, the event will be an opportunity for students with early stage business ideas (or no ideas at all!) to become part of an intense weekend designed to launch real businesses. Startup Weekend is a global phenomenon – 54 hours of fast and furious prototype development through to exploring potential markets and pitching. It’s an unparalleled opportunity to build lasting relationships with co-founders; mentors, and investors.

Whether you are the next big Tech thing, Food and Drink idea, social enterprise, Renewable Energy, Retail product, arts organisation or budding Start-Up Entrenprenuer then Exeter StartUp Weekend could be the place for you to launch. Calling on former University of Exeter students that have gone on to create businesses, including Stew Noakes (QualiTest), Tom Carrington-Smith (The Eleven), Ben Tyson (Born Social) and myself (MGR Music Tuition LTD), to help get your business ideas off the ground the StartUp weekend will be an event not to be missed.

10603716_336384836547932_4911450039201381895_n

It terms of my week here at MGR Music Tuition it has been busy as ever, updating the music websites to make the mobile friendly (thanks to Google’s new algorithm – read more in my “Google Mobile Update” post). I am currently managing to update two websites a day (taking 1 & 1/2 hours each!) – so it will be 50 day process to get all the websites updated! We have also managed to launch two new websites this week; Piano Lessons Norwich and for the fantastic Andy Smith, who is the current singing teacher we work with in Reading, a second website Piano Lessons Reading to enable him to tutor piano students of all ages and ability in Reading. However, the big challenge in the coming weeks will be to ensure that the speed at which I can hire new teachers will match that of the new enquiries coming in!

Posted under Business Innovation, Events, Ignite, Innovation Centre

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on May 15, 2015

Tags: ,

Week Seven

Wow, what a week! I met eight students with business ideas in a jam packed few days, before heading off to Instabear’s launch party on the Saturday! The Polaroid Instagram printing service will be live very shortly so make sure you sign up here! A highlight of the week was sitting down with the Young Ones co-founder Chris Rea to talk about how he can move the business from the UK’s top selling university inspired Onesie company to the new university outfitters, competing against the likes of Jack Wills, Superdry and Topman. With some great products in the line-up to be released over the summer & the possibility that the Young One team will go full time next year watch this space, you might just be seeing a new high-street clothing brand being born!

Young Ones – one of Exeter University’s top exports!

Another highlight of the week was meeting Tom, a first year student who had started a soap business early last year to win a bet against his friend. Having sold his own brand of soap on London stalls, generating a more than decent income, he is now preparing to launch his second business in Exeter! What this will be we let you know as soon as we can! I also met with a student who has a cracking idea for a new piece of skiing equipment, top secrete at the moment but once they are ready to go public you will hear more about it hear first! Additionally there were a few other pipeline businesses ideas this week that the Innovation Centre will help to incubate and develop over the next few months before their launch – I will keep you updated!

If you have a business idea, no matter how early come an visit us on campus up at the Innovation Centre!

My week away from the SEiR role saw the launch of Guitar Lessons Coventry, Guitar Lessons Plymouth and Singing Lessons Leeds thanks to my fantastic team of copywriters, while I began to start the process of hiring teachers for the Guitar Lessons Norwich and Guitar Lessons Belfast websites respectively. With enquiries coming in from all over the network guitar, singing and piano websites I am trying to hirer teachers as quickly as I can to fulfil them! Hindered slightly however by having an excruciatingly painful back I was reminded not to work too hard, seriously I have met so many people in their mid-40s that have made millions and burned out, damaging their health irretrievably in the process. It is very easy to work too hard on your own business, while juggling a degree, social relationships, other part time jobs, yet you can’t buy your health back once you made your money – live in the present & chill!

Posted under Innovation Centre, Instabear, Young Ones

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on February 17, 2013

Tags: , ,