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Young Entrepreneurs: Tom Hatton, RefME

The founder of an award-winning referencing app which has grown quicker than Twitter in its first year, could 24 year-old Hatton be the next Jack Dorsey?

Name: Tom Hatton
Company: RefME
Age: 24

Tom Hatton is the CEO of over 30 employees, has an app which has grown quicker than both Twitter and Pinterest in their first years and, remarkably, is still yet to celebrate his 25th birthday.

Aged 16, Hatton planned to become a rock star in a band and says it was the experience of being part of “one big hustle” – booking gigs, organising rehearsals and managing money – which ignited his entrepreneurial spirit. While the band “wasn’t meant to be”, the young entrepreneur then launched a small digital agency; T and Biscuits, which built apps and online campaigns and it was time spent experimenting with apps that led him to his current venture RefME.

“Taking the search out of research”, RefME allows you to create a citation with one click, in any citation format for any source. Users can scan a book or journal barcode and the tool then generates a reference; crowdsourcing information to make the process of referencing work fully automated, “simple and accessible”. One of the biggest pains for university students worldwide, Hatton’s referencing app has certainly struck a chord with the student community and, in a little over six months since launch, has amassed over 700,000 users and 14,000 fans on Twitter.

While the business’ current focus is on growth, Hatton asserts that he “knows exactly how to make money” and recent milestones indicate that the young start-up is making waves in all the right places. Hatton’s app is currently listed on the App Store as one of the ‘Best New Apps’ and last month was awarded the prestigious title of British Mobile Start-up at the Mobile World Congress.

Although the company has achieved a great deal in such a short space of time, Hatton is humble when it comes to business success and says that one of the biggest moments for him was being sat on a bus listening to students recommend the app to each other. He’s also quick to stress that starting a business isn’t for the faint hearted – new businesses should actually be called “start-ups and downs”, according to Hatton, as “it is one big rollercoaster”.

With the publishing market valued at $151bn and “ready for disruption”, Hatton’s innovative education tool looks set to go far. Could we have the next tech mogul in our midst?


(will not be published)