Elite Professionals Article, Tech Stars Under 30: Selly Oak News

Originally Published March 2012 on Elite Professionals.org: http://eliteprofessionals.org/2012/03/10/selly-oak-news/

 

It’s March! So it’s time for my next article for http://eliteprofessionals.org/ on UK based young professionals. This time it’s Hugh Hopkins and Selly Oak News. Are you from a Brummie business looking to target advertising at University of Birmingham Students? Give them a shout 😉

 

If there is one thing that my generation have had relentlessly drummed into them it’s the amazing potential of social media. Yet actually meeting young people who have turned this potential into a viable business is a surprisingly rare experience. This is where Hugh Hopkins and Selly Oak News come in.

Hugh (the one in the pink), was in the same halls of residence as I was in my first year at uni. He’s always struck me as a highly ambitious and capable future businessman, so it was no surprise to me when I heard that, together with co-founders Nick Day and Jonathan Craven, he had set up his own business. And, unlike many student businesses, it was going places.

Selly Oak News is an online platform for student news, media and opinion. It started out as a twitter feed and now, just over a year later, it’s a fully-fledged online service complete with a vast and ever growing following.Not bad for a bunch of university students.
So, eager to find out what’s next on the agenda, I caught up with Hugh earlier this week


Tell us a bit about you and your background, what are your main interests and aspirations?
I’m in my third and final year at Birmingham University reading Business Management with Communications. In my first year I was elected the Entertainments Officer for my hall and it started a growing interest, as well as my confidence, in starting large projects and seeing them through. This also intertwined with my interest in the News and Media industry and how the internet is revolutionising the production and communication of content.
I have big aspirations, perhaps some of them are a little crazy and I’m cautious of actually listing them. I can say that it involves the creation of an international business.

In a few sentences, sum up what your company does and your role within it
SO News provides instant news tailored to University of Birmingham students on an interactive and unbiased platform. Nick Day, Jonathan Craven and I founded the business about a year ago and we’ve already managed to turn a profit. We each have specialised roles but mine is to run day to day operations of the news and just push the business forward.

Where did the idea for your company come from?
The idea came to us in a fast food shop. We were just chatting about Selly Oak and how information for students is fragmented and often out of date. Starting a news site to solve this seemed simple and since then the initial concept has grown significantly. We’ve created a platform on which we can create some truly great services and SO News is just the start.

What would you say has been your single greatest challenge in getting this far?
It’s hard to pinpoint a moment but at times it has been a challenge to keep momentum. All three of us are still students and apart from our own desire to create a great service there are very few reasons why we should start and run our own business.
What’s been your high point?
When we were awarded a £2,000 grant from Birmingham University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation centre it transformed us into a serious business. It gave us a huge moral boost, meant we could invest in producing better content and organise ourselves as tangible business.

Where do you see you and your company in five years time?
The future of SO News is highly dependent on the next few months but we aim to be the most innovative source of high quality news and media. We would have established offices in Shoreditch and launched our side projects SO TV, SO Film and SO Music. We hope by then for SO news to have gained an international audience and we would be considering expansion outside of Europe. As for myself, remaining instrumental and innovating the business.

If you could give other budding professionals one piece of advice what would it be?
Be part of a business you enjoy.

For more information on Selly Oak News or to request some advertising space check out http://www.sonews.co.uk .
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