Spark! Conran Russell: My £10 Innovation Challenge

Conran Russell is a first year BSc International Business with a Year in Industry student at Kent Business School, University of Kent. Read Conran’s experience of the £10 challenge, an entrepreneurial programme organised by the University of Kent’s Hub for Innovation and Enterprise.

Outline of the competition

The University of Kent’s Hub for Innovation and Enterprise offer a programme for future budding entrepreneurs called the ‘£10 challenge‘, in which students have an opportunity to demonstrate their entrepreneurial skills. The process enables students to build the foundations of their desired business venture with an initial investment of £10 to get their idea off the ground. At the end of the programme, however, the entrepreneur is required to return the initial £10. The competition offers an invaluable insight into the day-to-day operations of running your own business and even if you do not win the competition the challenge still looks great on your CV. There are also some great prizes to be won:

  • First prize – £100 Amazon Voucher
  • Second prize – £50 Amazon Voucher
  • Third prize – £20 Amazon Voucher
  • Every entrant gets 15 Employability Points.conran-challenge

My business proposition

My business, Spark, is an online marketplace exclusively for University of Kent students specialising in second-hand textbooks.

My idea stemmed from one of the most common problems students face; purchasing numerous, expensive textbooks, with the average price of a single book being £50. As most students are on strict budgets, Spark aims to provide a platform for second or third year, students to sell their old textbooks to first years. This benefits both parties (buyer & seller) as older students will make some money as well as younger students saving some money.

How to get involved in selling and buying second hand textbooks

Sell – To sell an item simply send an email to listing the details of the product and it will be published under the on the Spark website. When a buyer is found, the item will be collected by a driver (therefore it does not matter if you live off campus) and then distributed to the customer. Once the money is collected the driver will return the money, however there will be a transaction charge of £4.

Buy – Once you have browsed the products and have found the one of your choice, simply register your interest at to get further instructions.

Reflection on my experience

Overall, I really enjoyed the opportunity to put my business proposition in to practice. My goal is to eventually be a Chief Executive of a global company, and although my business venture was small and localised, I grasped the fundamental skills needed by any entrepreneur. Additionally, I liked the time scale of the competition as it motivated me to work hard and efficiently. Ultimately, the challenge enabled me to do things I would never attempt otherwise, for example I built and edited my own website – with the help of a Wix template!

Although, I did not win the competition and did not make any significant profits, I would recommend the programme to anyone, regardless of what you study and what you wish to pursue in life as everyone has something to gain. As mentioned earlier, the challenge is fantastic to place on your CV and will be respected by any employer.

Many thanks for Conran for sharing his thoughts, we wish him luck with his business venture Spark and the remainder of his studies. If you’d like to participate in the £10 challenge next year, find out more.

Student Blogger:

Conran Russell


My name is Conran Russell, I am in my first year at Kent Business School studying International Business with a Year in Industry at the Canterbury Campus.

I am interested in pursuing a career in global business.

View Conran on LinkedIn.

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