James Eder is Founder of The Beans Group, a company who have been on an exponential growth spurt since their inception as studentbeans.com in 2005.

James started the company at the age of just 22 while in his last year at University, and their flagship site studentbeans.com is now officially the nation’s top website for 16-24s. He sits on the board and is non-executive director for a number of youth, tech and education based companies – and in the last two years has founded two new companies Causr and FriendlyFriday.

James is invited regularly to speak on the global stage on subjects including marketing, entrepreneurship and establishing a successful brand.

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In this episode we talk about:

  • James’ Student Beans journey, from conception at university to today’s most popular website for 16-24 year olds in the UK
  • How he absorbed his entrepreneurial ambition from his family and school initiative Young Enterprise
  • He reveals his relentless work ethic in the startup phase of Student Beans, how to develop his sales pitch and testing ideas
  • His core belief of starting with value and following something you are passionate about.
  • James also reveals his latest start-up business and how it could revolutionise the way we network


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  • “If it’s your idea and you believe in it, and you’re willing to do what other people aren’t, you’re going to succeed when others won’t”
  • “What success is, it’s not over night, it has been incredibly hard, and generally sometimes I wouldn’t wish on anyone what I’ve had to go through”
  • “Instead of work life balance, it’s life and whether you’re enjoying it or not”
  • “When you’re in the hospital and there’s a flat line on the monitor it means the person’s dead. A lot of us are afraid of putting ourselves in these situations, or speaking to that stranger or trying to get investment, or starting an idea- and  that’s when your heart’s racing and you’re alive
  • “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”
  • “I don’t believe in luck, but the harder you work the luckier you get”
  • “Fortune meets opportunity  when you’re ready for it.  
  • “My world view is that there is opportunity absolutely everywhere’
  • “It’s about taking action and making decisions. Not making decisions paralyses businesses”  
  • “Imagine if you couldn’t fail. Who would you be, what would you do, and where would you go”
  • “Framing positively, what you think the outcome is going to be is unbelievably powerful” [Rebelhack]
  • “You look back in life and you see how the dots join”

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Links & People

Hexjam http://www.hexjam.com/
‘From Good To Great’, Jim Collins  http://amzn.to/1SJiDGt
‘Built To Last’, Jim Collins http://amzn.to/1YQwWYh
Causr http://www.causr.co/
The Alliance written in part by Reid Hoffman http://amzn.to/1YQx7mp
StartUp Britain http://startupbritain.org/
Tenner (Ollie Barrett) http://www.tenner.org.uk
The Naked Leader, by David Taylor http://amzn.to/1SJiZNz
AIESEC – Youth Leadership Organisation  http://www.aiesec.co.uk/
Travis Kalanick (Uber)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travis_Kalanick

Time Stamped Notes
  • 00:02:58 – His days at a call centre having to make 250 calls a day helped build a thick skin and get used to people saying no
  • 00:03:07 – Weren’t allowed to hang up the phone before you had at least three no’s
  • 00:05:13 – When 17 first entrepreneurial experience through the Young Enterprise initiative at school
  • 00:05:30 – Worked with Anthony Eskinazi who founded  Justpark, and Musar Tarrick who is head of Global Social for Apple
  • 00:06:37 – Brand Manager for Yellow Pages while at University      
  • 00:08:36 – Co-Founder and brother Michael Eder came up with the name Student BEans
  • 00:09:37 – The power of a ‘name’ when starting a business – it’s very unifying and creates a lot of momentum and confidence when you have a name
  • 00:10:17 – The power of  the GU brand can be attributed to their success more so than their product
  • 00:11:26 – James was knocking on doors (in between his graduation ceremony) to try and get advertisers for his first early version of Student Beans
  • 00:11:37 – Just through themselves in head first. ‘Tested’ a single area first (Birmingham) to get a feel for things.
  • 00:12:22 – “If you feel like you’re ready to do it, you’ve probably done it too late”
  • 00:12:29 – If he obsessed over perfecting his pitch he would never have the confidence to do it
  • 00:13:46 – He would be pulling 6.30am to 11.00pm days to get it off the ground
  • 00:14:18 – Demonstrates  how powerful ‘door to door’ can be in the digital age
  • 00:15:40 – Grandparents were entrepreneurs. Had a hat shop in Malta which turned into a dress shop and laid the foundation for a high end maternity wear shop in UK
  • 00:16:22 – Strong work ethic instilled from a young age
  • 00:20:38 – 15,000 students in first year, 50,000 students in second year and 150,000 students in third year
  • 00:22:17 – Their technology now sits on Topshop, Topman & Ted Baker sites
  • 00:22:31 – Merged from a marketing business to provide a scalable technology that is in over 20 countries around the world
  • 00:22:42 – Hexjam.com (one of the Beans Group websites) released an article called 101 reasons why you should live in London at least once; got liked over 150,000 times in 10 days
  • 00:25:21 – Mentions the book ‘From Good To Great’  by Jim Collin and ‘Built To Last’
  • 00:25:25 – Importance of alignment of vision from co founders
  • 00:25:52 – Talks about importance of having BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)
  • 00:25:59 – James’ is to touch the lives of 100m young people every day
  • 00:35:02 – James is not afraid to just go up to random people and start asking questions and talking about his business or startup to get feedback
  • 00:40:54 – We know people aren’t going to be in their job for life, let’s stop this charade and work together to achieve both the companies and the employees goal
  • 00:42:33 – Talks about a great entrepreneur called Ollie Barrett who was involved in setting up StartUp Britain and set up ‘Tenner’
  • 00:44:07 – It’s about adding value and making a difference. If you build something and believe in it the money will come
  • 00:44:42 – Biggest personality flaw is the fact that he is very trusting, and has been burnt by that
  • 00:45:31 – Importance of making decisions and taking action  
  • 00:46:35 – The Naked Leader by David Taylor – imagine if you couldn’t fail. Who would you be, what would you do and where would you go
  • 00:47:44 – A lot of people told him he was too young and under experienced to start his first business,  but he had this quote in his mind “imagine if you couldn’t fail”, and there was a clarity in his mind that meant he had to do it
The Rebel Wrap Up Round

If you could go back to any point in your life, and have 1 hour with your past self; what moment would it be and what would you tell yourself?

00:49:15 – I would go back to my first day at university and I would say to myself, “everything is going to work out’.  

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, who gave it to you and how has it positively affected your career?

00:49:57 – David Taylor, Naked Leader “Imagine if you couldn’t fail”. I wake every day and I just think like what am I going to do today?, making a phone call with someone? You know, framing positively what you think the outcome could be before it’s happened is just unbelievable.

Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary entrepreneur or creator of the last 2 years?

00:50:18 – It’s got to be Travis (Kalanick) from Uber, who is disrupting and annoying a lot of people, doing crazy things. But also I think a visionary. I think some people maybe question some of the things and the way that he does it.

If you could change one law what would it be?

00:51:03 – So I’ve got a bug bare. I don’t know about laws, but parking fines for things you just didn’t mean to do. I’m not a bad person. If it’s 3 minutes after the time, just charge me for the time automatically that i’m parked somewhere.

What is the one generally agreed upon rule or conventional piece of wisdom, that you disagree with?

00:51:39 – What’s funny is that I’m really rebellious and i hate routine and someone telling me what to do. I’ll tell you what it is, people talk about focus. And actually I love doing lots of different things.

What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?

00:52:44 – It’s about having an idea and taking action, doing something with it. Using the resources in the right way and surrounding yourself by the best people to make your idea reality.

What advice would you give to anyone listening to this who wants to become an entrepreneur?

00:52:59 – So my advice is, just think about something you really care about and with the user in mind. Or something that you would want. And then ask other people or other people that want that, then take action and doing something with it. Start it, set up a landing page, try and get a trial version of it, do a prototype, do something. But get out there and start, because you won’t regret it.

Who do you nominate to be a guest on the RebelHead Entrepreneurs podcast and can you sum them up in one word?

00:53:29 – Ollie Barrett. He is Epic. He’s done some amazing things and really supports the community. And at the same time is creating great value for people.

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About The Author

Matt Cheney
Executive Producer

Matt has been in the media industry for 11 years, specialising in audio post production. Matt has created Emmy award-winning music features, BAFTA nominated animations and acclaimed festival documentaries. Max & Matts’ paths merged in 2015 to produce the REBELHEAD podcast; publishing the successful series, telling stories of today’s most disruptive and rebellious entrepreneurs. Matt is currently Head of Audio at Vice Media UK and currently partner in two growing audio production companies. As part of the REBELHEAD Production team; he is ambitiously road-mapping the rise of REBELHEAD via new media and emerging technologies.

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