02 March 2016

Inspiring an entrepreneur

Andrew Boast shares his story of working with Management student Marianne

By Development and Alumni Relations Team

Business owner and mentor, Andrew Boast

Andrew Boast is a valued member of our supporter community. As a local business owner, Andrew volunteered to provide support and guidance to Marianne, the 2012-13 President of the Royal Holloway Entrepreneurs. At the time, she was completing her BSc Management at Royal Holloway and required mentoring to help her take the next step in starting her own business. Andrew has kindly written to us describing his experience.

I still remember my first meeting with Marianne in Costa Coffee in Egham. I was mixed with emotion, both excited to hear Marianne’s ideas and nervous as I wanted to make sure I could help her. It was pretty clear after I got talking to Marianne that she had all the attributes needed to succeed as an entrepreneur: she had a clear goal, a passion for what she believed in and was driven to make her vision a success.

Management student and Andrew's mentee, Marianne

Management student and Andrew’s mentee, Marianne

I was interested to listen to Marianne’s business ideas as she explained how she was going to bring social awareness of the ethical issues in the fashion industry. She explained how some companies in the fashion industry have received criticism for not adopting sustainable methods, so it was clear that Marianne had spotted a potential gap in the market, something any entrepreneur must do. However, the hard work is in following up and making money at it.

In hearing Marianne talk, she clearly had a much greater knowledge of her sector than I, however what was so amazing about her was that she also knew what she wanted to know more about. From here I could see how I could help and it was to give Marianne exposure to a real life start-up business that was only in its infancy (now more into its teens!)

Seeing a start-up for the first time may startle some budding entrepreneurs. Most often, there’s no plush offices, you’re normally working from home and you’ve got minimal staff so you have to do all the jobs from accounting to cleaning. Having Marianne come to our fledgling company was so much fun. The team was smaller back then, but already there were the seeds of a business as my company, SAM Conveyancing, was helping move our customers to their new homes.

Marianne was able to see how one minute you’re pitching to a client who might potentially net you a game-changing injection of capital and then five minutes later, you’re suddenly having to solve a glitch in your own network which has brought your phones down. Add that to making sure your team doesn’t run out of coffee/milk/sugar/encouragement by way of catching up on your accounts in the evening and you get a brief glimpse of this glamorous life!

In our meetings together, I helped her map out and plan her strategies for developing her ideas. Any entrepreneur has to be clear about what they need to reach their goal and, once they’ve decided this they need to ‘make it happen’ and often when even securing start-up cash is a challenge.

You need to be a ‘people’ person which Marianne clearly is. One person cannot change the world but they can engage others to help them do just that. You also need to be realistic but strict regarding your targets and deadlines.

Since our meetings we’ve kept in touch and I’m delighted to say that Marianne is making great progress towards realising her dreams. She manages to fit so many things in each day – whether in working full time, doing public speaking appearances, volunteering or co-ordinating student ambassadors – it’s a wonder she manages to sleep at all!

Andrew Boast MAAT is Co-founder of Share a Mortgage and SAM Conveyancing. He launched Share a Mortgage at the beginning of 2014 to help frustrated aspiring home buyers to achieve their dreams in the midst of the continuing housing crisis. The company is aligned with the Sharing Economy and has successfully helped hundreds of people into their first homes.

Andrew’s second venture, SAM Conveyancing, provides a complete home moving service; offering all the services you require for buying a home, from conveyancing solicitors through RICS surveyors to home removals.

Marianne Caroline Hughes is passionate about the role fashion & the arts have in inspiring the young generation to be a part of climate action. She speaks publicly and blogs about sustainable fashion from a corporate social responsibility angle.

There are lots of ways alumni and supporters of the College can help our students improve their employability, such as providing a micro-placement or returning to campus to share your experience. If you’re interested in more information, please email us at alumni@royalholloway.ac.uk and we will pass on your details to our Careers Service.

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