He may only be 19, but SEO Expert Anay Patel has already founded and worked in various start-ups. He launched his own web design company Inspiri.co two years ago, and is very excited about his upcoming venture Launch-A-Preneur, a unique platform which aims to help young entrepreneurs improve their interpersonal and business skills. Indeed, Launch-A-Preneur sounds as full of promise and potential as this visionary young entrepreneur.

Interview

Q. You had your first part-time job at 16, but hated it and quit. What was the difference between this job and the start-up internship that you did and loved?

A. My part-time job was a zero-hour contract at Sports Direct, where they were rude and didn’t value their employees. It took me an hour to get there, and it only paid around £5 an hour. It just wasn’t worth it!

The 4-month internship I did, however, was a brilliant experience. It was in a start-up company, and I was valued as an employee – I worked closely with the CTO and we remained in contact after my internship  finished. I was in a marketing role, but in a start-up you have to be an all-rounder and everyone has to muck in, so I got to do all sorts, and was entrusted with a lot of responsibility. The CTO taught me about web developing and programming. I had to speak at a big launch party, and I really noticed how it helped my confidence when I went to university, in comparison with others who seemed very nervous about public speaking. It was an invaluable experience.

Q. Can you tell me a bit more about Inspiri.co?

A. I formed Inspiri.co during the final phase of my internship, with help from the CTO. It was very difficult to secure clients at first because, understandably, people want developers with lots of previous experience. I was turned down several times before I found a client via my cousin. I started off creating a website for a cake shop and for a property development business. Once I started building up my portfolio, people came to me by word of mouth. It’s so easy to make money from website design when you understand the tech aspect. I can make £400 from creating a website, compared to my £5 an hour at Sports Direct! It has kept me going for a good two years now, while I’m at university.

Q. And do you enjoy it?

A. Yes, I do. I love that with every new website, it is always different. And I’m improving every time – there is always more to learn and enhance in terms of functionality and design.

Q. Launch-A-Preneur is your next big project. How are you expanding it and ensuring its success?

A. It’s an online incubator for young entrepreneurs. Launch-A-Preneur is unique from any pre-existing platform; its USP is that it is specifically tailored to the individual entrepreneur. You log in and you have a personal report on your skills progress, along with access to mentoring, teaching, motivational videos and more. I have partnered an Instagram account with motivational posts. Lots of people have contacted me via LinkedIn and I have secured lots of entrepreneurs who will blog and contribute. It’s going to be good!

Q. What is the business model for Launch-A-Preneur?

 A. Everyone expects to have to pay when they register, but for now, it’s free! I might start introducing a subscription system down the line, but at the moment I am focusing on attracting the market. I won’t use advertisements, because I hate them! I am looking into sponsorship, because if there is a way I can support the venture without ruining the user experience, I will do it.

 Q. You have evidently done well before and during your university degree – is it possible to become an entrepreneur without having a degree?

A. That’s one of my life debates there! Initially I chose to do a degree for my family’s sake, but I also have a personal motivation. I have dyspraxia and dyslexia, and people doubted that I could even get through my GCSEs – to secure a university degree would prove how capable and motivated I am. Despite the distractions at University, I know that time is precious so I am determined to stay on track.

Q. Do you think age is important in entrepreneurship?

A. Often I am the youngest at entrepreneurial events, and although they don’t say it, it’s obvious people don’t respect me as an equal. But you can become an entrepreneur at any age. An important lesson to learn, however, is that if there is a business idea that isn’t working, you need to move on. It’s common to become emotionally attached to a project, but if it’s not making money, you have to let it go and move on to the next thing.

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