Making Money: Part 1

In the first of a two part series The Tab talks to a Computer Science student making big money designing websites and an Engineer who sells lightbulbs.

business EcoNutters Fred Brewin lawrence bayhnam Object Reload Limited Queens' Siana Bangura

Mateusz Drozdzynski is a 3rd year Computer Science student from King’s. He also is the Director of Object Reload Limited, a web design and software development company, and its sister company, Object Reload Polska, the offshore branch in Poland.

Photo by Fred Brewin

“Imagine you came up to me with an idea for a social network where you could share photos and messages with your friend. What we’d build for you is Facebook. We specialise in helping startups launch their products without having to assemble a full development team in-house.  My job is to qualify leads, pitch to customers, build the long term vision and the strategy of the company.

“I learnt how to write simple computer programs when I was 13 and starting doing first freelance gigs when I was 15. Two years later I realised I could probably shuffle studying for my A-Levels with working part-time, so I applied for a position at a software company.

“I became one of their top managers and software developers. I was already earning more than my school principal but my salary was correlated to the number of hours I put in and with university starting my own company seemed like the best plan.

“Fortunately, I designed my company so that from day one most administrative tasks can be easily delegated.

“In term time making sure existing customers and all our employers are happy, as well as overseeing operations means replying to emails twice a day, a few conference calls a week and an occasional business lunch here and there. It’s probably rowing that takes up most of my free time rather than running a company.

“I don’t pay myself a salary, so most of my assets are not liquid. I’m a sole shareholder of my company and also have minority shares in a few other startups. Neither however makes me rich per se unless these companies are acquired or float. I make a fair amount off consulting and dividends, most of which is either reinvested back into my ventures in one way or another, leaving a couple of thousands to splurge on Apple products, car lease, going out and generally enjoying life.”

Lawrence Baynham is a 2nd year Engineer from Queens’.

Photo by Siana Bangura

“Until the exam stress hit, I was running an online eco-store called EcoNutters, specialising in products which not only save the environment but will save money and pay for themselves within a year. Obviously I care about the environment on a personal level but, being a bit of a moneysaving geek myself, I want customers can be assured that by buying a product they will save money – that’s the point. EcoNutters will be open again for business on 27th June.”

“It all started with the dimmable CFL (compact fluorescent): there was – and still is – a gap in the market for energy saving light bulbs that dim with normal dimmer switches. I have been lucky in that I have had resources available to me from my brother’s street lighting company, including employees in China who know who to talk to when it comes to lighting. I’m now expanding into LED lighting, including spot lights and lighting strips which I hope to sell directly to consumers and also to electrical contractors.

“My room (and often my room-mate’s room) was filled with light bulbs, boxes and bubble wrap (bubble wrap, by the way, is really hard to keep hold of – it’s always tempting to wrap someone up and bundle them down the stairs).

“My current position in the market has allowed me to get to know the technologies and their limitations, putting me in an ideal place to develop methods to overcome these: I don’t want to just  import and sell, but to to develop the existing products and also to innovate.

“The lighting industry is going through a transformation – the market pull for more energy efficient lighting (due to both rising energy prices and legislation) along with the technology push from LED and high efficiency fluorescent lighting is creating opportunities for technically minded entrepreneurs to get a slice of the action.

“Over the summer the product range of EcoNutters will be expanding and I will be hoping to set up some business to business relations. I’ll also be exploring an idea for a product that I have had, aimed at students, which involves beer. Watch this space…”