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Natasha Francis - NEOccasion

Having graduated from Cardiff University with a degree in Business Management, Natasha Francis has launched NEOccasion - a novelty and bespoke hamper business. “I’ve been making hampers for a while now, for friends and family, and I just started it from there”, she explains. Slightly different from the traditional hamper businesses that offer wine and cheese, Natasha creates hampers full of bespoke and personalised gifts for each individual customer.

Natasha went about funding her idea by doing some research within her local council. She found out that a grant of £3,000 was available, but it wasn’t easy to apply. “It was a long process and they wanted to see a detailed business plan, that then goes to a panel of judges and they decide”, she explains. Luckily, the business idea was approved and Natasha was successful in securing the grant.

Natasha explains the process of launching NEOcassion. “I started finding potential suppliers and it was a lot more time consuming than you think - finding out who where and how I get the items was a long process. I also had to research the types of hampers I could make and how I could get started.” This presented Natasha with some problems, and finding a basket supplier was particularly difficult. “I wanted to do it in different sorts of containers, to find baskets and containers that are completely original. Like doing a beer hamper in a beer crate to make it more quirky”, Natasha explains. Luckily, after some more time and effort, she found the perfect supplier and NEOccasion was able to continue its launch.

Being the Enterprise Society President at Cardiff University, Natasha has had a close relationship with Student Enterprise from the beginning. “Neil’s given me a lot of advice about what to do with my idea”, she says. “I went to them a while ago to understand a bit more about starting a business, but it’s the hands-on part of the Society that has taught me the most.” Her advice to potential entrepreneurs is to simply go for it. “Graduates are especially in the best position with regard to the economy, and have no commitments. It might be hard - it’s certainly not going to be easy - but go for it and take calculated risks to be successful.”

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