Nick O'Ferrall

Enterprise success stories

Nick O'Ferrall


What do you study at the University of Exeter?

Business Economics BA

What is your business all about?

The Student Bubble is an online guide to all the different, interesting places to go in Exeter. As students we became bored of going to the same pubs, restaurants and cafes. We wanted to find somewhere new but we didn’t know how. The Student Bubble is the solution helping students uncover all the hidden gems around the city. We also have a Bucket List  of activities students need to complete before graduation, an events page keeping students up to date with all the best student focused events and blogs that give a more in depth report of hidden gems in Exeter.

What is your business’s unique selling point (USP)? What is your main form of advertising? Who are your main competitors?

The USP of The Student Bubble is the fact we are website based and young person focused. Our main competitor is Great Little Place. They have a vintage brand that focus on uncovering hidden gems but other than London they largely rely on Facebook pages that can be messy and inactive. We are website based which is more efficient and easy to use and our brand is young, new and interesting.

Where did your idea come from? What is the start-up story behind your business?

Our idea has pivoted a lot from where we began. The idea came from not knowing where to go in Exeter. I wanted an online guide for things to do in Exeter – the best clubs, pubs, restaurants and cafes as well as all the different, more interesting places. However, after a while we felt that the site was too broad. So now The Student Bubble focuses entirely on different, more interesting venues in Exeter.

Juggling your academic studies with your new business as well as still having a social life must be a challenge. How do you accommodate the three and what does an average day, if you have one, look like for you?

It can be a struggle and sometimes the business does take priority – certainly over academics – but if you work hard enough and wake up early then you can get a lot done so thankfully I’m still on track for a 2:1. There is no average day really. Usually I try to wake up around 7 and work on anything – it can be social media, boring admin, meeting companies – anything! Market research are the best work days – going to pubs, restaurants and cafes around Exeter for the day isn’t too bad!

What things helped you learn how to run a new business? Has there been anything or anyone in particular that has helped you along the way?

My Co-Founder has been the biggest help in all honesty. I came up with the idea and then looked for a Co-Founder that could help me with the technical side of the business as well as offer business advice. I met Elina Lulle through Ignite and as a 3rd year Computer Science and Business Management student with a years business experience already and a ridiculously bubbly personality I asked her to Co-Found the business. She has been very helpful with the technical side but also in helping ensure we reach our vision of making University a more interesting experience by finding all the hidden gem venues in Exeter.

What support have you received from the University?

The University has been great with the Exeter Entrepreneurs society offering a great community to get to know other young students interested in entrepreneurship. Ignite, particularly Mithil Shah, has also been great offering one-on-one support when I was developing the idea. Finally, the Innovation centre with Joe Pearce have been fantastic inviting me on an accelerator course, introducing me to lots of valuable contacts and providing funding too.

What do you think has been your key to success so far?

Our willingness to fail and our work ethic. We have failed many times from having too broad a focus early on to making marketing mistakes but I think the key to success is being willing to fail, learning from this and working as hard as you can to minimalize your failures. The worst regret is thinking you could have worked harder so we give everything we’ve got and hopefully it will ensure continued success of The Student Bubble.

Have you made any mistakes along the way? Is so, what have you learnt from these? And further, if you could go back in time, are there any things that you would change or would do differently?

Lot’s of mistakes – too many to mention. But I wouldn’t change anything as you really do learn most from your failures.

What can we look forward to in terms of your business? Have you got any future plans for it?

In the future you can look forward to us quickly expanding to lots of different Universities as well as improving the functionality and design of our website.

How about yourself? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

10 years time I see myself running my own business. Perhaps to still be doing The Student Bubble but I think I would prefer to do lots of start-ups and successfully exit them after I think that the problem I originally identified is solved. 

What advice do you have for other University of Exeter students who are looking to start their own business?

Start it now. If you have any interest in business then start now as there is no better time with the lack of responsibilities and all the support the University offers. It doesn’t matter if you have a completely unique idea just go for it and work as hard as you possibly can. Regardless of whether The Student Bubble takes off I will be prouder of the business than my degree. In 6 months I’ve learnt a huge amount and had a lot of fun.  

For more information about Nicks business, visit the website: