Starting a Start-Up whilst at University


Great ideas come in all shapes and sizes, and launching your own business might sound like the sort of idea that might appeal to you once you graduate. It can not only be a great learning experience but also gives you an opportunity to learn about yourself and meet some great people along the way.

Simon, founder of Boardmann, who has designed an Ironing board that helps iron clothes twice as fast, tells us about his journey from an idea to getting a product to market.

How did you come up with the idea?

“I’ve always had an interest in fixing things and solving problems. I graduated with an
engineering degree from Manchester University and spent my first few years of my career working in product development. I’ve always worn shirts to work as I like to look smart, but like many people, I hate ironing. I used to spend an hour or more on a Sunday evening ironing shirts for the week. That got me thinking about how I could improve on the design of the ironing board to make ironing easier”

Tell us about your start-up journey so far?

“I started looking on the internet to see if I could buy an ironing board that was shaped for ironing shirts but couldn’t find anything. So two years ago, I spent a weekend building a prototype of my design out of wood. It was pretty rudimental, but it worked really well. I used it for a few weeks and tweaked the shape to make improvements. I soon found I was ironing my shirts and t-shirts in half the time and it worked well for other clothes too!“

“I convinced a friend make up some artwork for the board cover and put a basic website together. I had the cover printed and stapled it onto my wooden prototype. I then spent a lot of time looking for manufactures and pitching my idea. I eventually found a business partner with experience in manufacturing and importing products from the far east and worked with him and a factory to complete a manufacturing prototype.”

“Since finishing the prototype I’ve spent a lot of time refining the branding and design as well as testing the product in order to get the board ready for launch. It’s been a slow process that’s taken much longer than I expected. The product is ready for launch now and I’m currently pitching it to retailers so you should see it in the shops later this year.”

What advice would you give to someone looking to launch a start-up?

“It can often be lonely if you’re launching a start-up on your own. I really recommend
speaking to other people who are working on start-ups. It can really help keep you
motivated and offers other people to bounce ideas off. There are a lot of co-working spaces around where you work on your own but with a community of likeminded people. It’s also worth hooking into charities such as TechMCR who specialise in helping support start-ups and matched me with a mentor which has been really valuable help.”

“If you’re thinking about launching a start-up, I would say go for it. It’s been a really good experience for me, I’ve met a lot of interesting people and made some great connections.

Don’t be fooled into thinking is quick and easy, it’s hard work and takes a lot of time, always have a plan and take all the free help and advice you can get along the way”

Boardmann is launching later this year, if you want to find out more, visit