BU graduate inspires budding student entrepreneurs

Posted on Wednesday, November 28 2012

A BU graduate who set up an award-winning digital agency was back at the university to offer budding student entrepreneurs advice on starting up a business.

Gary Seneviratne set up digital agency Adido with four fellow BSc (Hons) Computing students at Bournemouth University in 2003, while they were in the final year of their course.

The idea came while they were sat in a Winton pub, and they set up office in their student house.

But the company, which services clients from London to Bournemouth, will turnover £3 million this year and has won various awards – including Entrepreneur of the Year at the Dorset Business Awards 2011.

“I think if I can do it, anybody can,”said Gary, 32, who lives in Poole. “A lot of it is about belief and motivation – you can do it if you have a vision for it.”

He added: “I believe in finding something you are really passionate about and that really motivates you, because that will keep you going.

“There are highs, but there are also downs, and so you need that motivation and that vision to drive you. You need a reason why you are getting up and spending all this time and money.”

Gary spoke to students and staff at BU’s Executive Business Centre (EBC) about starting and growing a business.

His advice included getting outside help from mentors and people who can fulfil the roles that you’re not so good at, and not being afraid of failure.

“Failure is the first action in learning,”said Gary. “You are going to make mistakes and fail in a lot of things. You have got to accept that and not let it stop you from achieving.”

He added that it was also important to make sure that you can switch off from work and have a good support network both in business and in your personal life.

Gary – who has now also set up an ethical gemstone company Nineteen48 and owns a mine in Sri Lanka – said that he enjoyed coming back to BU and sharing his knowledge.

“It is good to be back and it is important to give back to your community. It is always good to support people and help out. I remember the guys who helped me out at the beginning.”

This includes some of his BU lecturers, who introduced him to Adido’s first client and gave them personal recommendations.

“Two of them said ‘I know of a business who needs what you do’, and they were our first client. It taught me the value of building networks.”

The talk was organised by the Centre for Entrepreneurship, a BU project run at the EBC.

Mark Painter, manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, said: “The BU Centre for Entrepreneurship is here to support and encourage enterprise and business growth.

“Organising these types of events enables students to meet inspirational business owners like Gary and to hear how they approach the many challenges of running a successful business.

“I think it is even more relevant and beneficial to students when these thoughts and experience are being shared by a BU Graduate.”