Will Peirce and Jonny Teeling - BA (Hons) Marketing
Entrepreneurs Will Peirce and Jonny Teeling have always had a desire to succeed. Ahead of coming to Leeds Met to study marketing, the pair had already dabbled in running their own businesses but wanted the knowledge university brings to take it to the next level. Will explains: “I’ve always worked in web development, right from being at school and college. I had a website that did really well, which meant I never really had to go out and get a proper job. It was during a gap year that I eventually decided to go to university.”
Jonny says: “I’ve always been into business right from being about 12 years old. I always had a passion to succeed, so I asked myself ‘what can I do at university?’ I’d already done business studies at school and college and had found marketing to be the most enjoyable part of it, so when I saw that Leeds Met offered the course and after hearing about the city’s reputation I made my decision.”
The business-minded duo struck up a friendship right from day one at Leeds Metropolitan and have been working together pretty much ever since. In their second year they set up a trips company for students and through their connections in the University, were able to promote and run their business successfully until it ran its course.
But it was during Christmas that set the spark for their new business venture. Over the 2010 festive season the duo set up Snog.com, a social networking website which uses the concept of the snog, marry or avoid game. Explaining how it works, Jonny says: “It’s like an icebreaker; there’s always people online and in reality they can be a little bit hesitant about speaking to someone, but actually they really want to know what others think about them, they just don’t always like going and asking them, so with this we’ve offered them a simple solution really. You’ve got three things you can say to them and once you’ve passed that point, you can then start talking.”
Through the power of social media, the boys were able to turn their business idea into an overnight success, as Will explains: “I signed up and posted links to Facebook and Twitter and that’s how I was able to gather my answers initially. I posted to around 500 friends and from there the word just began to spread. When we actually launched the site, it went crazy – we got 30,000 hits on the first night alone.”
To get things started the duo also took advantage of Leeds Metropolitan’s Business Start-up scheme, which helped steer them towards success. “We did our first ever interview with Business Start-Up,” says Will, “It was great to do it with people from our University as it was a safety net for us. To know that we had that team behind us really helped to keep us on track and not say anything that we shouldn’t!”
Seven months down the line and business is still booming for the boys. Jonny says: “We have around 70,000 messages sent a day and that’s just private messages. If you put the answers into the mix, then we have around 300,000 daily.”
Since setting up, the duo have taken investment in their company but are still responsible for the running and developing of the site. “We’re working towards building it into something that’s massive and something that everyone wants,” says Will. “The fundamentals of the site will remain the same, though we're looking to change and evolve it into something which makes it fun, engaging, yet simple to meet interesting people around you. We're really looking to grow this and we're only in the UK at the moment, we have the whole world to go.”
Find out more about Starting a Business with help from Leeds Metropolitan.