In light of this week’s revelations universities are hiring debt collectors to chase students over unpaid fees, taking the advice of Newtownforbes’ Paul Mulhern might well be the best way out of the crisis.
Like dozens of teenagers in his position, making a few euros to fund his first year in college was all that dominated the Longford teenager’s thinking after finishing his Leaving Cert last summer.
A keen follower of the world’s largest online marketplace, Ebay, Paul began making moves to create his own scaled down version by selling affordable jewellery on the internet.
Six months and endless hours of research later, Paul’s curiously named dametro.com website is steadily becoming a hit with online shoppers.
“It was around August time when I decided to give it a go,” said a confident and free-talking Paul this week.
“I was trading on eBay, my Leaving Cert was over so I just said to myself ‘Why not set up a business and grow it from there’.”
Realising his inability to compete with some of the jewellery industry’s leading brands, Paul undertook a concerted market research drive to identify the demands of bargain-hunting consumers.
Advice and support was also obtained from local business figures typified by the likes of Co Enterprise Board chief executive Michael Nevin.
And, as he explained during an interview with the Leader this week, it was just the guidance he had been hoping for.
“I got a lot of support from the Michael and the Enterprise Board. What I needed was something different. I looked into what people wanted in terms of styles because I knew that brand names was just something that I couldn’t compete with.”
The name of his business model had to be catchy too, leading Paul to plump for the name ‘dametro’. “I am studying business and information in Galway (NUIG) so I would had an interest in that said of things,” he added.
Given his computer programming interests, initiating the website proved relatively facile when compared to other, more complex issues of setting up a new business.
“The legal side of things was hard,” accepted the son of Newtownforbes couple Vincent and Maria. “Things like being able to accept credit card payments over the net and making sure that was taken care of properly was challenging is the start up phase.”
In spite of those obstacles, Paul’s creation has more than held its own, so much so that he is one of six candidates in with a shout of being crowned NUIG Student Enterprise winner for 2013 and with it a cheque for €10,000.
“It would be great to win it,” said a smiling, but level-headed Paul. “Around 85 per cent of people shop online now and jewellery is the second most purchased item on the net after books, so it (Dametro) seems to have worked.”
Not bad for an 18-year-old fresh out of school?