A FORMER Plymouth University student turned successful businessman has returned to his old institution to help inspire the next generation.
Paul Randall, 31, set up online furniture store Rainbow Zebra from his family home five years ago and is now on track to earn his first million.
The Business Studies graduate credits Plymouth University, which is ranked in the top two per cent in the world, for helping to prepare him for an entrepreneurial life.
Now Paul wants to give back through guest lectures as part of Futures Entrepreneurship Centre’s BETA Enterprise Programme, set up to improve students’ entrepreneurial abilities and support their business ideas at Plymouth University.
Paul, who left a potential retail career with Marks and Spencer to set out alone, said: “I had a great time at university and the course helped set me up for success.
“I now want to give back to the next generation and help others learn from my experiences – both good and bad.
“Setting up by yourself can be daunting, although very rewarding, and it’s great the university offers practical, hands-on support.”
The name BETA Enterprise stands for ‘Be Entrepreneurial, Take Action’.
BETA Enterprise helps students go on to refine their business ideas with the help of free business mentors, skills workshops, guest lectures, networking and pitching opportunities.
Paul, who is also mostly self-taught in online marketing, has spoken to hundreds of students about his journey and lessons learned along the way.
Paul, who has gone on to win the Online Business Awards (OBA) – in the Office Equipment, Supplies and Furniture category, has also acted as a business mentor.
He has also been a judge for the BETA Enterprise pitching panel, whereby students put forward ideas with the aim of securing grants of up to £1,500 from their Plymouth University faculty to help them develop their ideas or prototypes further.
Amber Strong, student entrepreneurship assistant, said: “Paul’s talks are very informative and hold many valuable learning points for entrepreneurial students.
“Paul talks about the importance of business mentors and being honest with them. He credits these factors to contributing to his own success.
“Paul also taught himself how to use Google AdWords strategically and has been able to stand out from the crowd with high quality customer service.
“Paul works hard for his success, is very engaged and modest. When we heard he had won an award we were delighted for him - he fully deserves it.”
The BETA Enterprise programme provides free start-up support for students at Plymouth University via the Futures Entrepreneurship Centre – launched in 2013 to encourage the development of sustainable business within the South West.
· For more information, visit www. rainbowzebra.co.uk
"I now want to give back to the next generation and help others learn from my experiences - both good and bad."
Paul Randall, of Rainbow Zebra
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