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James Hassan - Total Students

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Working together for part of their Economics and Business degrees, James Hassan and his friend Sam Gould scored an impressive 78% on a particular project. The task was to design and develop a business with potential for success. Realising that their idea was too good to waste, the pair decided to make the fantasy a reality.

Total Students Ltd is a national students resource website. “We address multiple areas of student life, from e-tickets, letting, job market and festivals”, James explains. The website features micro-sites for each city , including the successful Cardiff site,

James did not seek financial help with setting up the business, and explains “We funded ourselves from credit cards and savings, and the outgoing marketing costs were the biggest”. James and Sam decided that branded merchandise was a great way of promoting the business to students. “We have t-shirts, doorstops, flyers, mugs, lanyards and more!” James explains. They also used a self-taught skill to generate more of an income. “We basically offered to design websites like c-y-n-t, Bedlam, Glam and others, whose payments fed into Total Students micro sites”, James says. “We weren’t always amazing at websites - the first attempt was rubbish - but by version three it’s really looking good”.

Like any other business, Total Students has faced problems in the past. “We were once told we were little fish in a big pond and that by this time next year it would have failed”, James admits. “That was a bit of a blow, but here we are two years down the line getting bigger every year.”

Through contacting Cardiff University’s Student Enterprise, James managed to secure free office space at CBTC. “It was a great help”, James says. “It just meant we didn’t have to worry about our profit – as office space is a huge overhead – and we could get on with the business.”

Total Students Ltd has been an ongoing success, and they are now branching into other cities and launching a housing section on the website. “We’ve done a deal with a company that loved the idea; they’re paying for the whole thing for a percentage cut”, James explains.

Securing work with the Cardiff nightclub, Vodka Revolutions, was another great success for Total Students, and one that James won’t forget. “We got the meeting with the manager through contacts at Revs from previous DJ work”, he explains. “Once the meeting came it was scary as hell, but he liked the idea and went with it.”

With Total Students continuing to grow, James has some sound advice for other budding entrepreneurs. “Always take risks. My parents always warned me our ideas were too much of a risk and that it wasn’t worth it, but just do it. You don’t have enough to lose, so be brave and follow your ideas until the end”, James advises.

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