Three university of Edinburgh graduates who gave up marketing and banking jobs to start a fancy dress business, which is well on the way to becoming a global phenomenon, will be sharing their tips for entrepreneurial success at the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) Student Enterprise Summit 2012, at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on March 22.
Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), SIE works with Scotland’s higher education institutions to increase the number of students who consider entrepreneurship a real career option during and after their studies.
Speaking at the SIE Student Enterprise Summit, Gregor Lawson, who founded Morphsuits in 2009 with his then flatmates Ali and Fraser Smeaton, will reveal how they transformed a simple business idea into a global company which reported sales this year in excess of £11million.
Explaining how the idea came about Gregor Lawson said, “We were at a fancy dress party in Dublin and one of our friends turned up in an all in one lycra suit. The reaction he got was amazing and we had all had enough marketing experience to know that a reaction like that to a product is pretty special.”
The young entrepreneurs invested £3000 in sourcing an initial quantity of stock and in their first year they made sales of over £1million. “'It was really exciting to see the business take off so quickly” said Gregor. “We realised that we had a great idea on our hands and we wanted to ensure we made the most of it.”
Today, the Edinburgh based company sell millions of Morphsuits in over 70 colours and patters including themed mummie, ninja and zombie suits, around the world. They have fulfilment warehouses in London, Europe, South America, North America, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
“We are have grown enormously but there is still more to do. We now have over one million facebook fans and we want to continue building that fan base this year by stretching into new markets. We will be launching Police, Spartan and Gangster Morphsuits this year and we also hope to secure some retail contracts.”
Revealing his advice for start-up success, Gregor said, “Keep your idea simple and don’t get bogged down in complexity. Get good people around you who you trust implicitly and ideally get on well with. Ensure there is a breadth of skills so you can reduce the risk.”
Other speakers sharing their advice with students at the SIE Summit include Jim McColl OBE, chairman and chief executive of Clyde Blowers Capital; Mel Young, President and chief executive of the Homeless World Cup and co-founder of The Big Issue (Scotland); David Bunton, co-founder of Biopta; and Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne founder of Genius gluten-free food range.
Explaining the purpose of the day, SIE chief executive, Fiona Godsman said: “It’s a fantastic day for the students, which brings together inspirational speakers, challenging activities and great networking opportunities with other like-minded young entrepreneurs, professional advisors, and business community representatives. Helping and inspiring students to become more entrepreneurial is what this day is about and we are delighted to have such a strong support from Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs.”
Issued on behalf of SIE by Jen Nash, Panache Communications Ltd. Tel. 07971 466 220 e. firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively please contact Scott McKellar at the Scottish Institute for Enterprise on t. 0141 330 8788 or visit www.sie.ac.uk
NOTES TO EDITORS
Established in 1999, the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) is the national organisation for promoting and supporting enterprise and entrepreneurship in Scotland’s universities. SIE aims to foster a culture of entrepreneurship among students in Scottish universities by equipping them with the enterprise skills, and providing the support and resources for students to start up and grow their own business or social enterprise.
With funding from the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), SIE works with all nineteen of Scotland’s higher education institutions to increase the number of students who consider entrepreneurship a real career option during and after their studies. A dedicated team of SIE advisors help students discover their entrepreneurial talent through hands-on learning opportunities, activities and events which are delivered through a network of student Interns and enterprise managers located on campus.
SIE also provides ongoing advice once a business has started trading and commercialisation support for ventures which have the potential to become high growth businesses. 15% of students who contact SIE go on to form a business and of those, up to 20% have the potential to be high growth. In the last ten years, SIE has supported the filings of 63 patents and 24 trademarks. Many companies that receive patent funding go on to develop international patent portfolios in Europe, Japan, USA and elsewhere.