'Foolish' Idea: Internet access to students.
Start-up Capital: Unknown
How Idea was Launched: Started company, Key Student Services. At first put in phone connections at campuses across the country. Next, went on-line with Nownet.co.uk, a website dedicated to students. Smart offices in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
Sales: Through subscriptions. In less than 3 months subscribers soared above 250,000. Companies use the web site for product placement targeted at students in the 18 - 24 age group.
Earnings: 1999, the Internet company was valued at £50million.
Ashley Atkinson's first job was a cashier in a garage. But, according to one of her teachers, even that was a better job than they thought Ashley capable of. For, she was told, she'd only be good for sticking handles on cups.
That was 20 years ago, before her meteoric rise to owning her company, which in 1999 was valued at £50 million. 10 years ago, Ashley Atkinson set up a telecommunications business. Using those years of experience, she noticed that no-one was putting computers into universities. So her company began putting in phone connections at campuses across the country. Ashley realised a gap in the market existed for an Internet service provider, specially aimed at students in the 18-24 age group.
Nownet was created. Less than 3 months after going on-line, the subscribers reached over 250,000. Even more amazing, this was despite no advertising or coverage in the computer press. Nownet carries no banner advertising, companies use the site for product placement.
Ashley Atkinson saw an untapped hole in the market place and supplied a service to fill that gap - earning her a company that's worth £50million.