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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre

Weekend Box Club

Founder: Andy Stephenson (Software Engineering, 2010)

Business start date: April 2013

Number of employees: 10

Website: www.weekendboxclub.com

What does your Business do?

Weekend Box provide educational and fun activity boxes for children aged 3-12 on a subscription through the post. Boxes contain a mix of activities, such as arts & Crafts, baking, planting/up-cycling as well as STEM activities for older children.

Our boxes contain everything you need to get going and have fun over the weekend and are delivered right through your letterbox.

What made you decide to start up your own business?

I didn't get on with my boss and thought I could run the company better than he could; so I quit my job and gave myself my 2 months’ notice period to think up a new business.

At the time, I was looking for gift ideas for my niece and nephew - I wanted to fund something educational yet fun, something that would help teach them about the world and something delivered on a regular basis so they’d remember me throughout the year. I couldn’t find anything, so I started Weekend Box.

What impact have you achieved to date?

As a business, Weekend Box has helped deliver over 1 million hours of quality time to families around the UK and more latterly around the world.

In our short history, we’ve been invited to Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament 4 times to advise the government on how to help support entrepreneurs.

In 2017, Andy featured on billboards across the country as part of accounting giant Sage’s brand-builder advertising campaign.

Richard Branson described Andy as “reminding him of his younger self” in his latest book “Finding My Virginity”.

What challenges have you overcome along the way?

Where to begin?!

Starting and running a business is all about learning from your mistakes and trying not to repeat them. We’ve been on the verge of running out of money (more than once), been up packing PVA glue sachets at 2am and regularly had the urge to throw the towel in and going back to be being an employee.

What continues to keep me going is working for a great cause, the people I work with and the fire in my belly. It’s cheesy as hell but if it was easy, everyone would do it and that’s what sets us entrepreneurs apart.

What is your key tip for Durham University students and graduates currently in the process of setting up a business?

Stop thinking and start doing!

Business plans are all well and good, but until you start making something and selling it you won’t know what details actually need to go in your business plan, nor how quickly or slowly you’ll grow.

Business plans are simply used to translate what’s going on in your head to someone else, but you only need to write them when you’re raising money (which, by the way, you shouldn’t do until you’re selling a product and making money yourself).

Go out there, make something and have some fun - remember to learn from your mistakes and also that nothing lasts forever, so if you’re losing energy or passion for your idea it may be time to put it to one side and try something new.

But don’t ever go back to being an employee!