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I met the Queen after starting my first business in high school

Thought Leader

I met the Queen after starting my first business in high school

The school tuck shop has been upgraded. Meet the person who turned his business class boredom into an idea that got royal attention.

 Bejay and The Queen talking .png

Name           Bejay Mulenga

From            London

Business      Supa Academy – training young people in business.

 

Bored. In the classroom. We’ve all been there.

 

School can be uninspiring for some 14 year olds. But my business class became the biggest frustration. We were shown all these stories of amazing things people were doing in business and yet all we learnt was theory. I didn’t feel like I was taught to do anything myself.

 

I’d had enough. Along with a group of friends I asked the head teacher if we could run our own tuck shop within the school to learn the practical side of business. It was difficult to convince her we weren’t just messing around. But we proposed this as a business studies project, and kept persevering. 

 

It took two months to convince her. But in that time we really clarified the idea and knew the benefits of doing it. Then Supa Tuck was born.

 

The start of Supa Tuck

 

One thing we learnt after launching Supa Tuck is that our school had a huge black market.

 

But I loved it. From sourcing the sweets to deciding when to sell them and how much for, we ran everything ourselves. After a while it was doing really well. I didn’t hold back. The idea worked at our school – so why not other ones? Around the time I was finishing off my GCSEs I started to build a legacy.

 

DSC_1827.JPGI went directly to local schools and gave pitched my idea to the head teachers there. Our business model was proven to work, and slowly we got other schools to agree to student-run franchises. The Supa Tuck brand was getting recognition and respect, so I went kept going bigger. By the time I was 18, there were 100 schools and over 5,000 students that had their own Supa Tuck experience.  

 

Evolving into Supa Academy

 

The success of Supa Tuck showed me that a lot of young people have the right ideas for business. They just needed a place to learn what to do next.

 

By the time I was 18 I felt like I had grown up a lot in a short space of time. The values of the first Supa Tuck audience had changed, and I wanted to continue to fit the needs my friends now had. I needed to take the business to its next generation.   

 

Stepping away from what I was comfortable with was a huge challenge. I’d gone from being in secondary school straight to working with people in them for years.

 

I stared at a blank canvas. I could start the next stage anywhere in the country. So where should I go? What do I do there?

 

I launched Supa Academy alongside my business partner Liam Tootill, to teach young people about business in a practical way. With Supa Academy, I wanted to stop others having the same feeling of frustration I’d had in my business studies class. I did this by setting up training sessions and a pop-up ‘SupaMarket’ that would be run by the young people that attended. We had amazing response and brands such as Facebook, Barclays and Pepsi got involved. I felt like we were making a big change.

 

Meeting the Queen

 

Asking your head teacher to start a tuck shop can result in meeting the Queen. Who knew?

 

In 2016 I won the Queen’s award for enterprise promotion after the work I’d done with Supa Academy to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs and accelerate their careers. I was amazed to find out I’d won! If Supa Tuck never happened I don’t know what I would be doing now. It completely changed my future. But I’ve always been keen to work with people and see the impact of what we’re doing.

 

I am announcing the next stages of Supa Academy with new programmes in the coming months with diversified offerings for different types of young people. You can sign up for the announcement here.

 

Want advice on starting your business as a young entrepreneur? Comment below with what you need help with and we’ll point you in the right direction.