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The most successful student businesses

Warm cookies, like those sold by Insomnia CookiesWe take a look at some of the world’s most successful student businesses, from Facebook to hot cookies.

The tech giants

Facebook’s rise from university bedroom project to world-conquering giant became almost as well known as the site itself when The Social Network was released in 2010. But it’s far from the only technology business that has more than paid for its founders’ tuition fees. Tech businesses are some of the most successful student-started businesses in the world.

In fact, Google started out as a research project by its PhD-student founders, not becoming a business until two years later. Michael Dell - founder of Dell Computers - started his business selling computer upgrade kits in the first year of his degree.

Some businesses even start specifically to cover the costs of university. The Million Dollar Homepage was started by a student from Wiltshire, with a simple idea he hoped would ease the costs of uni - and who ended up making more than the million dollars he was hoping for.

f you’ve got the necessary skills, tech businesses can be a good option for a university business, as they can have a very large potential market and use skills that most people don’t have. They’re also easier to run without a large space or lots of expense: often, all you need is a computer and an internet connection.

But that doesn’t mean that you need to be a computer expert to run a student business. If someone will pay for it, then you can make a business from it.

Unusual student businesses

Sometimes, the best business ideas are the most unusual. A student at the University of Pennsylvania in America started the late-night cookie delivery service Insomnia Cookies when he found the usual options of pizza or Chinese food didn’t satisfy his sweet tooth. He’s now running a chain of 20 cookie-delivery services across America.

Closer to home, Exeter geography student Tom Ellis found success with a business a long way from the student lifestyle - importing champagne into the UK. He stumbled across the idea after tasting Leroux-Mineau champagne and learning that it was not yet being sold in Britain.

These success stories show one thing you can do to come up with a great idea for a student business: keep your eyes peeled for unexpected opportunities!

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