Graduate: Matt Roberts
Course: Marketing, graduated 2005
Bean2Bed sells UK manufactured bean bags with guest beds inside them. They turn from a bean bag to a guest bed in just 30 seconds.
How did you get started?
The Bean2Bed concept was born in the dorm rooms of Aston University in 2005. I, and fellow Aston graduate Max Bauer, had a lack of guest beds for visitors one weekend. 'If only that bean bag in the corner could flatten out so that someone can sleep on it', we thought.
This idea turned into reality thanks to dogged determination and with the help and support of Aston friends, lecturers and even using the halls of residence as a stock room!
Along there way there has been blood, sweat and tears as well as incredibly steep learning curves. There have been lows including: having stock stolen overnight at the NEC, material suppliers going into liquidation and a courier firm (no longer in operation) accidentally air mailing six of our products to Ireland at a cost of over £3,000! However, the team have always remained positive and overcome the hurdles and had some great highs. These include: our first large order from a multi-national company, our first celebrity order, a Channel 4 documentary about our business as well as numerous business awards.
How has your time at Aston helped you and your business?
My time at Aston University was immense. Studying at Aston brought me to a city that I love and made me some lifelong friends. My Marketing degree taught me a great deal and the placement year was great fun too.
A degree from Aston is like a gift that never stops giving. I am still in touch with several of my lecturers who have been a great source of advice and support. The alumni and other events that I have attended since graduating have always been extremely well organised and worthwhile. It's just great to see the campus facilities improve and prosper every few months and the university, rightly so, climb up the league tables each year.
How is the business going and how are you finding being an entrepreneur?
Everyone at Bean2Bed is ambitious and keen to grow the business internationally. The dream is to have a Bean2Bed in every home and a worldwide brand!
Our initial milestone was to break the dreaded five year barrier where the majority of new businesses fail. Now that has been achieved we're looking at the decade mark.
Running your own company is fantastic. The opportunity to set your own agenda, react quickly to make things happen and control the destiny of the business is just great. My only gripe would be that it is very difficult to 'switch off'. There have been some great moments over the years. For me the best moment was getting the seal of approval from the London Wasps RFC team when we kitted out the relaxation area at their training ground.