2020 applicants
Essex Business School

Alex and Ben's story

Two smartly dressed young men sitting on a bench outside the Innovation Centre

''CEO's of charities were crying out for innovation to bring them into the digital age.''

Alexander Slade and Ben Reeder met whilst living as neighbours on Campus. A shared passion for charity shopping and a strong entrepreneurial mind-set led to their business idea now set revolutionise the charity retail sector with an online platform. 

Alexander Slade and Ben Reeder met whilst living as neighbours on Campus. A shared passion for charity shopping and a strong entrepreneurial mind-set led to their business idea now set revolutionise the charity retail sector with a new unique, online platform. 

How did you two meet and what inspired you to work together?

Ben: We met because we were in the same flat in first-year Alex was actually my next door neighbour. He lived in the room next to me. I could hear him singing in the shower through the walls!
In our spare time we started charity shopping together.  We'd always talked about the fact that we were both interested in entrepreneurship and we were interested in starting something whilst at University - but we didn't really have any ideas on what to do. However, I had noticed that charity shopping was taking a long time. We go out for an entire Sunday afternoon and take five hours and come back with one thing that we were really happy with, but it takes a long time to find.
I was thinking, it would be good if there was something that could exceed that entire process, essentially. I discussed this idea with Alex and we thought it sounded like a great excuse to meet once a week in the pub and about how we might put it into action and yeah that that kind of spiralled into starting an actual project.

How did you develop ideas for your business?

Alexander: Initially we didn't really know what we wanted to do. We knew we were both were great friends. We knew we both wanted pursue a start-up venture, because that's what we were really passionate about. And so, we would meet every week and we would talk about anything and everything. Until one day Ben mentioned this, and we thought let's give it the green light!

In terms of developing the specific idea we immediately went with our stage one discovery phase, which essentially involved us going through every, every charity shop, so we could find. There's 13 individual ones in Colchester. We literally we went and all of them. And we said, hey, you know, we were suited and booted dressed up a little bit. And we just went and we asked questions. We pitched the idea, basically a quick elevator pitch and we said, 'would this be of use to you guys, would this be something that truly adds value to your store?

95% of them said yes this is something that could be great, so, we thought let's do this. 
We got in contact with the start-up team to see what kind of competition we can join together start- up capital and it went from there basically.