“An Opportunity I had to take” Kelly Klein, founder of Student@Home

Student@home is an award winning social enterprise, with a mission to provide employment opportunities for students and improve technology access for the digitally-excluded in the UK. It’s founder, Kelly Klein, answers this month’s Q&A. 

Why did you start the business?

I liked the idea of having complete control over my own destiny. Yet, I also wanted to do something good and know I’m helping others with my work. I loved my role at JP Morgan, but when I saw this opportunity I knew I had to take it.

Tell us about the business?

Student@Home offers help for all ages and levels of experience, covering virus removal, Wi-Fi Set-up, data back up, email syncing, and more. For a monthly membership of £2, Student@Home clients can book appointments at any time, with students available usually within 24 hours. An hour-long appointment costs £30 – less than half the price of most IT support services. The students offer friendly, patient advice.

What did you do before you started your business and how has that experience helped your venture?

I worked in private banking at JP Morgan. This helped me with the financial side of starting this new business, which is very crucial in any business.

Tell us about a typical day?

There is no such thing as a typical day. Every day is very different. Some days I am interviewing students, reviewing their applications. Others I am spending the majority of the day training new students, recruiting new students and teaching them how to code. And I also spend time managing the call center. I always have to do a little bit of everything. My days are always quite busy but also very rewarding.

What are the high points?

Two years ago, this was just an idea. And today, we are employing over 60 people. We employ students in deprived areas, we can give them a great job to put on their CV and learn valuable skills that they can use in any future endeavors. I know I am able to help these IT students and that makes it very worthwhile. Our company has also won some awards (The company recently won support from the National Lottery, and is a Social Enterprise of the Year finalist in the National Business Awards) and that also feels great knowing that our hard work isn’t going unnoticed.

What were the low points and how did you get over them?

The business was started in the midst of a recession. It was a big risk I knew this going in. But, it was still very challenging at first getting the business going. But, I realise the progress that we have made, and I know that it was definitely worth the risk.

Marketing – tell us about a marketing tactic that works really well for your business?

Online advertisements, such as Google ads and PPC, have been successful. Over 8000 people in London per month are searching for IT online, so we are able to get a significant amount of online traffic. Flyering has also been a great help. A year ago, we passed out flyers around Chiswick and we are still getting calls a year later about these flyers that we once handed out. Word of mouth is also helpful for us. Our customers recommend us to their friends, and we also get a significant amount of calls from recommendations.

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