Young entrepreneurs: Makaela Richardson, Free the Fresher

Having worked two jobs to fund her start-up, this 21 year-old's subscription box service now has over 10,000 customers and is set to generate £2.5m

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Name: Makaela Richardson
Company: Free the Fresher
Age: 21

The life of a university student is an expensive one, especially without financial support from parents.

This was the situation that 21-year-old Makaela Richardson found herself in when, against her parents’ wishes, she chose to switch from studying for a law degree in Reading to gaining a business studies degree in London.

Struggling to get settled in the capital with higher costs of living, Richardson wondered why it was so difficult to get all the student essentials at a reasonable price. The enterprising student decided that, if no one else would provide such a useful service, she should do it herself.

So in April 2016 – after some heavy research and a lot of positive feedback from fellow students – Richardson launched Free the Fresher: a subscription service delivering university necessities such as stationery, kitchenware, bedding, and even ‘hangover kits’, directly to students’ doors.

Depending on the package, each member pays a one-time fee of between £50 to £75 to receive three boxes throughout the year along with exclusive discounts from brands such as Nandos, Amazon, Co-op and ASOS.

When it comes to demand for Makeala’s business, the numbers speak for themselves. Within just two months of launch, over 3,000 students had signed up to the service and, by the end of its first year of trading, Free the Fresher boasted over 10,600 members.

Fuelled by £6,000 of her own cash – which she made made during the university summer break from working 9am-5pm in a HR department, as well as waitressing each night from 5pm until 1am – Richardson now employs five staff and her company is already profitable.

With £2.5m turnover forecast for 2017, and investors keen to take a slice of the Free the Fresher pie, 2017 looks set to be an exciting year for this self-made entrepreneur.

Proof, if any was needed, that you can start a successful business while at university.

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