Young Entrepreneurs: Britain’s Harry Beard
Harry Beard was only 16 when he started his own company - OPEN.
Harry’s first success came early. At the age of 15, Harry opened his own clothing company. In just two weeks, his first release sold out, from which he earned around $650. His clothing brand eventually lead to a successful pop up shop in London. He realized he had great potential in entrepreneurship when he saw his favorite Youtubers had started wearing clothes from his brand.
His early success from running a clothing business brought him some local attention; a local newspaper wrote to him asking for an interview. At the age of 16, Harry decided to have OPEN become a digital marketing agency which helps promote and market for businesses through social media and other digital means. He started working with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in his local area. Harry started small, partnering with a local restaurant, who contacted him after seeing that he had 7,000 followers on Twitter for his clothing company. Harry’s success in marketing rapidly grew thereafter; he is even in talks with one of Ireland’s biggest banks and a number of globally renowned businesses and universities. Harry states that his company’s triumph comes from positive word of mouth that his clients have passed on; he has never had to market for OPEN.
OPEN unlocked numerous doors for Harry. He was named in Ernst and Young’s Top 10 student entrepreneurs and went to pitch to them at their London office. He was then voted as the UK’s 2nd best student entrepreneur after his pitch. The rigorous competition focused on several aspects of running a business such as complex problem solving, creativity, cognitive flexibility, emotional intelligence, and collaboration. Harry had to pitch to a group of professionals, and placed second in the competition. Harry started gaining prominence around the world and began to travel to different places to give talks, usually on the theme of Generation Z and marketing to Generation Z. He has spoken at some of Europe’s largest hackathons and tech conferences; some of these include the Northern Ireland’s Future Summits and Digital DNA. This year, he has been asked to speak and mentor at Northern Ireland’s biggest tech event and he will be speaking in London twice before the end of this year. Harry says that his main message to the audience is revolved around the fact that he is a Gen Z specialist and how he runs a number of campaigns, including one where he reached 5 million Gen Z members for only $30.
Since the competition, Ernst and Young have helped Harry a lot. Their network has allowed Harry to meet with people from some of the world’s biggest companies giving him a great insight that many students don’t have. Harry loves working with innovative companies. He has worked with, and still works for: Amazon Best Sellers, companies who have products in high street stores all across the UK, celebrities, and a number of big charities. Harry was even able to market for a charity celebrity basketball tournament, which sold out over 25,000 tickets at London’s O2 arena. That being his first major charity project, was a matter of great pride for him.
When asked why OPEN has grown to the size it is after it started by chance, Harry explained that one reason is: Generation Z. While there are numerous agencies to go with, in OPEN, you are dealing with a teenager rather than an adult. Teenagers, in Harry’s perspective, are able to give very relevant and effective marketing advice. All of his team have learnt by doing. Not only that, but the rule book doesn’t apply to this Gen Z firm! Nobody in the company has a marketing degree, so they have a unique position which is firmly “out of the box,” or “off the wall,” as Harry says.
While Harry is still a full-time student, he has big aspirations for the future. He hopes to earn a seven-figure revenue for OPEN and have around 2,000 clients by 2021. When he first launched the company, he was the only one working; but now he employs five part-time workers. Interestingly, these employees, between them, can speak in ten different languages, making it easier for the company to market companies both globally, and in very diverse areas - such as London. Currently, OPEN is has offices in England, but Harry is looking to expand the brand to Northern Ireland with a Generation Z specific consultancy called Future Labs.
Harry continues to inspire hundreds of young entrepreneurs as he gives his speeches across the Europe. When asked if he has any advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs, he suggests: “Start. If you have an idea when you’re young, you cannot lose - so let your idea come to fruition. If it goes wrong, people will only commend you for trying because you’re young, and if it works, people will see that as a better achievement than most successes, because you’re young.”
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