With the sluggish British economy, it’s never been more difficult for young people to get a job. In fact for many graduates and teens, finding their way into employment can often feel like an impossible challenge rather than a right of passage. Factors such as the government cuts, economic recession, the closure of many High Street chains and up to 100 candidates applying for each entry level vacancy have left as many as 1.1 million 16-24 year-olds currently out of work in the UK.
Despite research that suggests a 21% unemployment rate for this age group, there are still many ambitious young people who are creatively making their way in the world. Their persistence, initiative and success in times of such economic difficultly are doubly inspiring. Here are some of the top young entrepreneurs to look out for this year and the dynamic, forward thinking companies that have seen them make their fortune:
As a young mum herself, Fiona Wood was constantly on the look out for natural skincare products to help ease her children’s allergies. Surprised to learn that there was a distinct lack of natural products on the market, Fiona set about creating her own. After having her ideas supported by mums up and down the country in the Barclays ‘Take One Small Step’ business competition, Fiona opened her company Naturally Cool Kids and has released six skincare products to date which are on sale in 20 different retailers including Tesco and John Lewis. (www.naturallycoolkids.com)
Helen McAvoy and Naomi Kibble
This Cardiff based duo have recognized the popularity of cocktail consumption and looked at how they can create a cocktail product that can be used in the home. Cue Rocktails – a frozen cocktail in a pouch that the pair have spent £20,000 developing. By tapping into this already saturated market with a new and exciting product they have secured an impressive deal with major supermarket chain Sainsburys and are looking to expand in 2012. (www.rocktails.co.uk)
This 23 year old is the founder of the largest jewelery training provider in the UK. The premise behind her company, London Jewelery School, involves holding classes in which people can come to learn how to make all sorts of intricate jewelery products. Jessica took a risk in order to pursue her ambition by leaving her job at the age of 20. But since then her vision has gained publicity and interest and has expanded from one class a month to 50 classes a month throughout the year. (Londonjewelleryschool.co.uk)
Josh Magidson and Ed Green
This hungry duo began their online takeaway business after graduating from university themselves back in 2006. The premise behind their website Eatstudent.co.uk is that students can browse local takeaway menus online then have food delivered directly to their halls of residence. This is a concept that is fairly well known now, but recently the pair have sold their original idea to internet giant JustEat for a humongous £500,000. (Eatstudent.co.uk)
Michael Korn has spent four years perfecting his simple yet inventive product Kwick-Screen and is finally reaping the rewards. The Kwick-Screen is designed to be a portable room divider, originally designed for patient privacy in hospitals. The retractable and convenient product has consequently been rolled out in other venues such as exhibitions, universities and offices. After winning the Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur award back in 2011, Michael is living proof that the simplest of ideas can create huge success. (www.kwickscreen.com/)
Josh Buckley, a Kent-born 19 year-old, has found massive success in his company MinoMonsters – a game similar to the hit sensation Pokemon that involves swapping and battling pet monsters. Currently the CEO of his own company, Josh sold his first company when he was 15 for an impressive six figure sum. From then on he has gone from strength to strength in the mobile gaming business and is set for a prosperous future. (minomonsters.com)
The iPhone app market is a massive and lucrative source of business and ex-lawyer Maria Constantinescu has tapped into it with her innovative app design SlickFlick. The idea behind SlickFlick involves using photos from the phone to create a storyboard and encourages users to be creative in terms of electronic photography and filmmaking. By targeting the phone and film industry directly, Maria is successfully building a niche market for her free app. (www.slickflick.com/)
Imogen Reed is a freelance writer and journalist in the UK.
Top photo by lmelenchon via morguefile