If you’re still staring at the picture trying to figure out where you’ve see this face...Umm... He was probably on your TV screen on shows like Dragons Den and recently The Apprentice.
Leon is not just a wanna-trepreneur but runs several businesses, most of them during his time studying at the university.
Check out my interview with him.
Photo via [BBC]
When did you first recognise that you had an entrepreneurial spirit, and what is your first memory of you exercising that business acumen?
Paper boy > Lawnmower escapades
What was your first job?
When I was 12 I was a paper boy, then I realised I could double up my hard work. Every house I went to I left a flyer saying I would mow their lawns, that made about 5 times more than my paper round!
I’ve had loads of part time jobs during school and College. My only real full time job was being a Lorry driver for a year when I was 18. ( I was the youngest lorry driver in the country at one point (you had to be 21 but I got into a scheme and was the only one to pass)
Where did you grow up and what are your fondest memories of the area?
Wetherby. I had and still have a lot of great friends from there.
Which school did you attend, did you enjoy it and how well do you think school equipped you for life beyond it?
I went to Ashville College for 10 years and Wetherby High for 3. It equipped me to be a more well rounded individual.
Which university did you go to?
Huddersifeld Uni & Melbourne Uni I chose to study Logistics after my lorry driving days I thought I would set up a logistivs company (it’s way too cutthroat and start up costs don’t make it possible) Graduated in 2009
Tell me about your businesses?
Themastermenu.com – An online Takeaway Directory & Publication business with 900 Takeaways across the UK and Northern Ireland! We also print 10,000 Master Menu brochures advertising a collection of local takeaways menus for densely populated student areas (they are the biggest consumers of fast food)
Whitepumps.co.uk – an online retailer for cheap canvas pumps
0800Divert.me – A great money saving loophole! It costs up to 20p per minutes to dial 0800 & Freephone numbers from your mobile. With this workaround you can now download the app from the app store enter the 0800 number and it pre dials a local landline number then connects you as normal. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can save the landline numbers from 0800Divert.me website (so far we have saved the nation over 15,000 minutes in charged calls
All of my businesses are advertised in the Master Menu as it doesn’t cost me anything and it is delivered to our target demographic.
What first gave you the ideas to set each of them up?
Takeaway menus were constantly being delivered when I was a student in some cases up to 30 different menus per day. It was a light bulb moment. “ all of the takeaways are separately paying for their menus to be designed, printed and distributed “ I approached them with the idea of compiling the menu amongst their competitors and delivering one thicker, glossier brochure to their target market and it was an instant hit!
Whitepumps.co.uk was set up in a heartbeat as I saw so many students wearing these cheap canvas shoes. I met with the wholesaler of Primark and agreed to buy a figure off them. I was able to advertise the pumps in the Mater Menu brochure, which proved to be a great success.
0800Divert also came to me off the back of Master Menu. We have a server that generates landline numbers for our takeaways so with a bit of Telefonymagication it was up and running in no time!
Did you encounter any major problems when first setting up?
I experienced several problems at the beginning down to inexperience. I got ripped off with the first brochures i printed. Now looking back I think I paid almost 70% more than what I pay now and still managed to make a profit on the first publication!
Most days there is a technical problem but that is part of growing a business and learning along the way
When was Mastermenu first up and running? And how did you feel the first day the website went live?
The brochures were the first thing to kick off in 2008 whilst I was at Uni. The Website was launched in 2009. Both felt amazing when we got the first takeaway order notification!
What impact do you think your age had? And do you consider it to be a help or a hindrance?
I’ve never thought of it as either.. It’s nice to know that I have experienced this kind of work now rather than working for someone else for 25 years then giving it ago.
What motivates you to get up each morning and run the businesses?
If I didn’t get up, I wouldn’t have a business.. I look forward to new challenges as everyday is different.
Who else works with you? How many staff do you employ?
5 staff including Designers, Developers, Admin, several Sales Agents and 3 Franchisees across the UK
Why did you decide to stay in Yorkshire, rather than moving to London?
London hasn’t offered me anything more than Yorkshire has, it would just be higher rates and longer commutes!. By the way we have over 150 takeaways in London and I go down twice a month.
What do you love most about the North?
Yorkshire businesses are WAY more friendly than Londoners FACT ( I can say this as I have business in both)
With university fees rising, how much value do you place on the institution for young people today?
It’s a great place to open up your social network. However if you don’t have £9k to blow on this luxury I’d give it a miss.
What impact, if any, has your appearance on The Apprentice had on the businesses?
Priceless promotion, the website crashed when it got 1Million hits during my exit show, I am regularly invited to share my business start up experience with schools and colleges (this is solely down to being on the apprentice )
What was your highlight of the show?
I got praised quite a bit for having entrepreneurial talent and flare (it wasn’t all shown but it happened) I got top sales out of 15 candidates and also did pretty well on the magazine task.
What is your honest opinion of Alan Sugar?
He would have benefited having me as a business partner so in that respect I’d honestly have to say he made a mistake.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Go for it.. learn from your mistakes along the way. Any nay sayers are just jealous!
What do you think makes a successful business person?
Someone who is focussed on the targets they set and also someone who is likeable. People buy from people so if they don’t like you or trust you, you’ve got no chance!
What future plans do you have for the companies?
We are looking to grow the proven business model in the form of Franchising as we have already sold 3 this year and they are working out really well.