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How to thrive in business – Sussex Connect mentor Jacob Skinner gives his top tips for budding entrepreneurs

Jacob Skinner (Engineering 2008), CEO, Thrive Wearables

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Jacob Skinner (Engineering 2008), CEO, Thrive Wearables

Sussex alumnus and Sussex Connect mentor Jacob Skinner (Engineering 2008), who co-founded Brighton-based business Thrive Wearables, returned to campus recently to talk to Business Society students and recent graduates about the issues facing a small but growing business in the current economic climate.

Jacob started his first business in 2012 after completing his PhD at Sussex, and went on to create Thrive Wearables in 2015. Three years on, Thrive Wearables is the leading design and development consultancy, creating and delivering wearables from idea to global mass production. With a global reach, they work with clients across Europe and the US on innovative wearables for health and wellbeing.

Jacob outlined some of the opportunities for small business tech-based start-ups in the UK today: “There are great funding and grant opportunities for tech companies, and it’s relatively straightforward to set up and register a company here. The weak pound is good for any business that is exporting or offering services to overseas customers and clients. In the digital economy, flexible workspaces and business hubs can reduce your business overheads, along with remote working options. The rapid increase in businesses using artificial intelligence and robotics is a great opportunity for a company like ours.

“However, there are of course challenges; one of the biggest is the unknown outcome of Brexit, alongside increased competition in angel and venture capital investment funding to grow your business further, whilst still keeping control. Then there are the global goliath corporates who increasingly have a monopoly on certain tech sectors. Small businesses also have to keep up to speed with ever changing threats to data security and hacking.”

Jacob also gave his top ten tips for students and recent graduates wanting to start a business. His first three are:

“Make sure you have a clear purpose, and reason for your business existing; keep asking yourself, why am I doing this?

“Network, network, network: Using my network in the early days of founding Thrive was so important to establishing the business.

“Get a mentor! The advice from a business mentor has been invaluable for me as we’ve grown Thrive.”

Sussex students and alumni can take advantage of the new exclusive Sussex Connect networking and e-mentoring platform to network with professional alumni members all over the world who are willing to help. 

For a full set of Jacob’s top ten tips for running a small business, along with his top six influential business books, join Sussex Connect and send him a direct message request. Jacob is also contactable via LinkedIn and Twitter @thrivewearables, so add him to your professional network.

For further information about the Sussex student Business Society, email Cameron Shears cs636@sussex.ac.uk


By: Serena Mitchell
Last updated: Friday, 7 December 2018

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