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ElephantBranded student entrepreneur bags John Lewis distribution deal

A student entrepreneur behind ElephantBranded, which supplies ethically made bags and related products, have secured a distribution deal that will see their products go on sale in John Lewis stores from next month.

The company, which is supported by the SETsquared Partnership's mentoring programme, is currently featuring in the BBC Three series Be Your Own Boss, which is presented by Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed.

The John Lewis distribution deal comes after ElephantBranded won SETsquared's Uni Popshop competition in June. The company beat five other teams of student entrepreneurs by generating the largest profit in a single day's trading at Spitalfields Market in London.

ElephantBranded founder James Boon, an architecture student at the University of Bath, set up the business after he was shocked by the state of basic school equipment while travelling in Africa and Asia.

"The support provided by SETsquared, including mentoring and its student entrepreneurship events, has been invaluable in helping me develop ElephantBranded and in boosting my skills in running a business," he said.

SETsquared partnership director Graham Harrison commented, "ElephantBranded shows how it's possible to start an ethical business and build it from the ground up without compromising your ideals. We look forward to seeing where James and the business go next."

Boon is also a member of the Intuit100Up, a group of 100 "high-potential" start-ups from across the UK. The group is the result of a joint venture between Intuit and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), with support from the National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs.

At the recent Mentor Match-up lunch, hosted by new business and enterprise minister Michael Fallon, members of the Intuit100Up were paired with trained mentors from the BIS Get Mentoring programme.

"The Intuit Mentor Match-Up was a great success," Boon said.

"Still in our first year of trading any advice and guidance makes a big difference and our mentor has given the ElephantBranded team a lot to think about, which is fantastic!

"ElephantBranded were fortunate enough to be introduced and chat to MP Michael Fallon: a great opportunity for me to share ElephantBranded's recent exciting announcements and hear his views on UK start-ups."

Mark Little, Intuit vice-president and UK managing director, commented: "Intuit is committed to helping young entrepreneurs realise their business dreams and the 100Up, which brings together the stars of the future to share ideas and advice, is central to that commitment. We are delighted to be continuing our relationship with BIS to provide expert mentoring to our young 100Up members and help them make the leap to get their companies off the ground."

By Andy Jowett

ElephantBranded student entrepreneur bags John Lewis distribution deal
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