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Home > Life Stories > The Web-enabled Entrepreneur - UK - 2

The Web-enabled Entrepreneur - UK - 2

The work of Hart (2009, 2011) and others on immigrant entrepreneurs in the USA and their significance in high-tech business start-ups has noted that a key factor in their success is the early adoption of internationalized approaches to their business. This factor is also found amongst the web-enabled entrepreneurs in the ELIE project. These are businesses that could be based anywhere; they are working in many parts of the world, with the web enabling communication, data and money transfer in real time. In many instances the rationale for setting up in the UK as opposed to anywhere else in the world is emotional ties. So we have a number of participants who wished to stay in the UK to be with spouses or partners who are English, but had business interests largely based overseas or they have settled here and developed a business without borders; maintained and managed via the Internet. These businesses are not necessarily technology-based businesses, web-enabled businesses in the ELIE sample included creative networks, events management, graphic designers and architects as well as software developers and online traders. The case study below was chosen because through its automatic and very successful use of Facebook as a tool of business development it may represent a new direction for web-enabled entrepreneurship. The functionality of social networking for this young entrepreneur; and for others like him, is such that Mr S did not even consider any other means of organising business.

Mr S was born and brought up in Cyprus, being educated there and speaking Greek as his first language even though his mother is English. As he has relatives in the UK he decided to study here, and as his English speaking was up to ILT level 7 he thought he would be able to manage to study and live here with no difficulties. While still living in Cyprus Mr S started running themed event nights for British visitors to the island and these were very successful. Mr S came to the UK to attend university and immediately noticed that there was a significant Greek-Cypriot student population in the area surrounding the large nothern city where he was studying (around 6000). He had good networks in the Greek-Cypriot community and decided that the themed nights he had organized for English visitors to Cyprus would work equally well as Greek-themed nights for the Greek-Cypriot student community in the city.

He says that when he first arrived in the UK he found his English was not really at the level he needed for establishing a business, or for studying, and that he struggled to understand conversations. For about a year he relied on friends to help him out with his business activities; he would tell them what he wanted doing and then listen as they arranged things for him. This was especially important with the technicalities of arranging venues and the complexities of licensing regulations. Also, being based in the North of England he found northern accents difficult. However, his business rapidly expanded to other cities in the UK and is now expanding across Europe.

This business is entirely marketed and managed via Facebook and the regular large events attract audiences of up to 600 with a wide range of young people from many backgrounds and nationalities attending. Mr S uses the networks he generates by Facebook to snowball knowledge of events and venues to a wide audience. He also uses Facebook as a tool for communicating with customers, through posting on their SNS and setting up links to his related events. He is further developing the business into more general events management, also through Facebook, and this new venture is also attracting clients. Mr S has effectively franchised the business model and as a result the brand name now has a presence in eight UK cities plus Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus and is expanding into the Balearics.


Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
© 2011 ELIE Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.