SOMETIMES when you see someone in action you have to hold your hands up and say – WOW!
And no we aren’t talking about Neymar or Lionel Messi in the World Cup here.
Because James, like Naked Leader founder David Taylor, are inspirational people. And so it is, that Naked Leader is proud and thrilled to announce that James will be passing on his wisdom at their Leadership that Makes and Saves you Money October Conference in London, along with many other notable speakers.
His top three tips? He says: ‘Firstly, take action, as ideas are cheap and only by acting on them can you make a difference. Also, learn by doing, not just by studying and preparing. Finally keep going – if it was easy everyone would be doing it. Life isn’t a rehearsal, the time is now, it’s up to us all to make it happen.’
Those aren’t just hollow words, they are what have driven James, a modern-day Steve Jobs, on to specials deeds.
He and Naked Leader – the two parties are inextricably linked!
James founded Studentbeans – now, The Beans Group – in 2005, three years after starting a business degree at the Univeristy of Birmingham.
Among other things during his studies in the Midlands, he got involved with AIESEC, www.aiesec.org a global organisation to help students and graduates work and live abroad, fostering understanding between different societies and cultures, and developing leadership and business skills.
‘Through this, I got to meet people from all over the country and the world, and went on placements in the Philippines and Colombia,’ he says.
‘When I was graduating I wanted to give back to an organisation that had given me so much and applied for a year-long position at AIESEC’s UK leadership team. When I didn’t make it onto the team, I was devastated.’
Enter Naked Leader (@thenakedleader) – and the rest is history – as James was prompted to fashion his own vision, to shape his own future.
How? By refusing to accept rejection as a option. Simply, he was not prepared to accept failure.
He looked at the end goal, and recalls: ‘I remember thinking, “what was the real result that I wanted to achieve?”
‘Earlier in my AIESEC experience, a friend bought me a copy of The Naked Leader by David Taylor. With the simple but powerful message: Imagine if you couldn’t fail. Who would you be? Where would you go? What would you do?’
The idea was planted. He was not going to fail, moreover, he would take action, and determine his own destiny.
‘Many people advised me to get more experience first, but I was convinced this was the right moment,’ he enthuses. ‘The whole concept depended on the student market and the older I got, the more difficult it would be to stay connected and deliver what students wanted.
‘I met up with my brother Michael and we agreed to go into business together to set up studentbeans.com as a leading student website and brand, helping students save money and brands promote themselves to the massive UK student market. We had the idea – now we had to make it happen.’
Today, despite negotiating its way through the most challenging economic times in living memory The Beans Group have made it happen – and some!
The company consistently receives more than 3million visitors a month and had a team of 40 people working in north west London.
‘Whilst we continue to recruit and grow The Beans Group works on projects that empower young people to thrive,’ adds James.
‘We now provide understanding through research, conferences & events at voxburner.com and access through our biggest platform studentbeans.com for brands looking to connect with the youth market.
‘We have built the commercial arm of the business working with brands such as Google, Apple and The Economist. In November 2013 we won Digital Business of The Year at the National Business Awards which is a great testament to the team and everyone’s hard work over the years.’
Such is the clamour for James’s story he talks at schools and businesses across the UK and internationally and delivers the message – having an idea and how to make it happen.
James recalls the key moments in his journey.
1. Pounding the streets of Birmingham, selling the Student Beans idea before it even existed.
2. Hiring the first employee in September 2006.
3. Hitting 1 million visits in a month on the website.
4. Winning Digital Business of the Year in 2013
5. The big move into new offices.
6. Going mobile and winning.
7. Making international expansion a reality.
8. Proving the doubters wrong.
9. Working with so many great people in the business today.
He could not have done it without Naked Leader and many others who have helped him and he says: ‘I would like to thank David and all of our friends, family, students and stakeholders, who have believed in us and our idea and have helped us become the success we are today. What are you waiting for? Imagine if you’re not going to fail?
James’s motto concludes what so far is a wonderful story. Simply, it is ‘to make life a little more awesome’ while the company’s 25-year goal is ‘to touch the lives of 100m young people every day’.
Never mind Ronaldo and Messi, it’s entrepreneurs like James Eder who are the real heroes.