Penryn Press

Enterprise success stories

Piers Henriques


Who are you?

Piers Henriques, Director of Marketing and Sales at Penryn Press LTD.

What Did You Study at University?

English BA

What Is Your Business?

Penryn Press LTD. We are a student run publishing house operating from University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus.

Where Did The Initial Idea Come From?

The seed for the business came from an idea that was the result of collaboration between the Humanities Department, and the Enterprise Team, who devised an idea to produce a student publishing team, and made a successful bid for Annual Fund backing, a fund created from alumni donations. Team members were then recruited from student applicants and from there on in, backed by university support, the team worked hard to expand the project into the limited company it is today.

What Was The Idea Behind It?

The core ethos behind the project is very simple: we aim to publish fresh and innovative literature that reflects the vibrant imaginations of both students and the South West at large. The business has been student led from day one, and we were given responsibility to make commercially viable decisions as soon as the Board of Directors were initially assembled. Penryn Press has five directors and roughly 35 people, of which 34 are University of Exeter Cornwall Campus students, working in various other capacities, such as editorial, marketing, illustration, graphic design, finance, production, website management, and many more. As well as helping cultivate commercial awareness for those involved in the business side of things, we also have the opportunity to publish students’ fantastic creative work here on campus. We are making strong links with the book-selling community at large, and our books with student voices will soon be sold in a bookshop near you.  As far as we know, Penryn Press is a totally unique enterprise amongst other universities in the country, and we aim to build it into a flagship project for University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus for years to come.

 What Challenges have you faced and how have you Overcome These?

We’ve had to overcome many of the initial stumbling blocks that entrepreneurs will experience on setting up their business, especially working with a modest budget and juggling university work. The initial stages of legal structuring proved to be one of the most challenging areas to research and get our heads around. There is so much conflicting information out there to confuse the process of setting up a business. Luckily we received some fantastic advice from our business advisor here on campus, Mark Scibor-Rylski, and we were then able to follow a plan of registering as a Limited company.

The largest challenge the Marketing team and myself have had to contend with is getting a website built and future-proof for the coming years. This is clearly made more difficult not having large pots of cash to invest. In order to stand out from the crowd in today’s world of tablets and smartphones, a flashy website is absolutely imperative, and requires an enormous amount of effort and dedication to achieve that level of pizazz. Our website will be ready by the end of May, and we are very proud of the multiple hurdles we have had to jump to get to a stage where our marketing platforms will compete with the bigger local and national publishing companies.

How Has the University Supported You and what have you Gained?

The seed-funds that were used to set up Penryn Press were primarily gained through University of Exeter’s Annual fund. Without this initial funding, starting the business would have been extremely difficult. The Annual Fund has been the springboard with which we could galvanise the business into action. Working with the Career Zone, we have been able to access specialist mentoring from Work Related Learning and the Career Zone Mentoring Scheme. Through the University of Exeter’s Research Knowledge Transfer, we have been lucky enough to gain access to industry professionals who advised us on the tricky stages of business registration and legal structuring. The UoE Finance Team are also always on hand for professional advice and support. Whilst the University has allowed us complete freedom for self-determination, we have been able to make use of the wealth of knowledge and expertise that comes with a big institution like University of Exeter. Spring 2014 will see the publication of our first full book, a tale of Cornish folklore and mythology, while a collection of South West based stories will be finished in time for Summer 2014.