Alex Dixon is currently placed at HomeServe plc with the New Entrepreneurs Foundation.
I spoke to Alex about how he got into entrepreneurship, previous businesses, running a start-up in the university and his experience working at HomeServe plc so far.
Below is the full interview.
Hi Alex, Its great to finally have you on YHP, how are you doing today?
I'm great thank you very much. I am in Atlanta at the moment (I'd love to pretend that this is because of a fancy business trip but really I am on Holiday!), the weather is great and I am sat outside in the sun.
Before we move on, could you quickly give us some background information about yourself so that the YHP audience can get to know you better?
Sure. I am 23 and grew up in Derbyshire, studied at the University of St Andrews and am currently placed at HomeServe plc with the New Entrepreneurs Foundation.
One of my biggest passions is running - I'm not the quickest, I can't run the furthest but I love it. I am currently training for the Edinburgh Marathon (May 2012) so I'm running about 30-35 miles a week which gives me a lot of time to consolidate my thoughts and unwind.
Tell me about your experience growing up, were you more academic or entrepreneurial?
I think you can be both - I tend to do well in everything I do, not because I am talented or ludicrously hard working but because I enjoy it. I firmly believe that you'll be good at what you enjoy.
So you graduated from University of St Andrews, tell me about your experience there?
I graduated with a First Class MA (Hons) in Management - I don't often get to write my degree class, so please excuse my self indulgence! Don't let my degree deceive you, I was much more likely to be found in a pub or running an event than in the library.
What would you say was some of the key things you took away from your university experience?
Bobby Jones once said "I could take out of my life everything except my experiences at St Andrews and I would still have a rich, full life" and I don't think I could put my sentiments more eloquently than this. If I had to single out two things I have taken away they would be:
A great group of friends. St Andrews is such a small place that you get to know hundreds of people and you get to know them really well.
A passion for 'making things happen'. There is no better experience than standing in Tesco and overhearing somebody saying how great your last event was.
Did you get involved in anything entrepreneurial during your time at the university?
I was always up to something. I got involved in a lot of societies, eventually running the Charities Campaign which had over 200 student volunteers, organised about 50 events a year and raised just short of £100,000 for 6 student nominated charities.
I also ran a lot of events off my own back. My strangest venture was perhaps my brief stint as a boxing ring announcer - where I'd go around businesses selling shout-outs. It was lucrative but the amateur boxing circuit of East Fife was not really my scene - after spending three years with braces I value my teeth far too much!
Tell us about NEF, why did you decide this was the next step for you, what was the process?
I was going through the pre-graduation drudgery of applying to consultancies; and this programme jumped out as something completely different. Entrepreneurship is a fancy way of saying 'I want to do my own thing' and this programme lets you learn to swim before jumping in at the deep end.
How has the experience been so far working at HomeServe?
I have lots of experienced colleagues at HomeServe so I have had a great opportunity to learn from them. Alongside this I have been given a lot of responsibility and autonomy in my work, which has been fantastic.
What are some of the key things that you’ve learnt so far from working with Richard Harpin?
Have an idea - then have focus and commitment to it.
Make tough decisions before they become tougher decisions.
Business and life are not separate entities so help yourself and your employees to find the right fit.
Is this something that you would recommend to other aspiring entrepreneurs? What’s the value in it?
Absolutely. The programme is a perfect mix of experience, learning and networking. The most valuable aspect of the programme is definitely the other New Entrepreneurs. Everyone has such diverse skills and is always willing to lend a helping hand.
What would you say has been some of the key things that you’ve learnt along the way?
It's all about people. Whatever your company does your end user is always a person. Evaluate your decisions against this assertion.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own business?
Make friends and look after people.
What can we be expecting from you in the future?
I can't say with certainty 'What'. I can say with certainty 'It is going to be great'.