In 2005, James Eder became one of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country when, aged 22, he founded website Student Beans alongside his brother Michael. Nine years later, their web-based service offers discounts, freebies and advice to to millions of students every month and has become a nationally recognised brand. Now known as The Beans Group, the company is based in Kentish Town and was named Digital Business of the Year 2013 at the National Business Awards.
When were you happiest?
My 30th year was unbelievable with so many highlights: I travelled the world for work to Sydney, Johannesburg, Dublin and New York, went skiing, celebrated with friends and moved to Kentish Town, which is now both my home and the office. As I look back at photos of the year it really feels like a dream.
Where would you like to live?
Right here. I moved to Kentish Town back in January and there’s nowhere else I’d rather live, I love it.
What is your favourite sound or smell?
The fresh smell of flowers on a sunny day as I pass the stall by the tube on the way up to our offices in Highgate Studios.
What is your greatest life achievement?
Setting up Student Beans aged 22. From a low-interest Princes Trust loan we now employ almost 50 people and continue to grow. To be able to develop employees personally and professionally is fantastic. Also, we reach millions of people a month now. I think if you’re a songwriter or in a band and hear someone singing something you’ve written, that would be amazing. I joke that I can’t write or sing, but we’ve created something that people genuinely feel an attachment to; whether it saves them money or simply helped them whilst they were a student, it’s no small feat.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
I try and live each day to the full and make sure I’m having the most impact. Our time on this world is short and it’s not easy to keep that at the front of mind. But as I challenge myself to do things, I remember that if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Lots of people have ideas but it’s taking action that counts.
What is your earliest memory?
Visiting my grandparents at their maternity clothes store on Marylebone High Street. Growing up in an entrepreneurial environment definitely rubbed off on me.
What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
As I’m finishing off these questions well after midnight, I’m fairly sure getting to bed earlier would do me the world of good.
What is your most unappealing habit?
Not being able to turn off my ideas. On holiday with friends someone asked me if I ever stopped coming up with ideas, reminding me that we were on holiday. I responded with a simple statement. I am just trying to change the world. I guess that sometimes that can sound a bit full on.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Sugar – ice cream, meringues, crepes. I’ve got a massive sweet tooth.
Where do you hang out?
Kentish Cluster is a monthly meet-up of which I’m one of the founders. The idea is to help people who live and work in Kentish Town collaborate and connect, and we’ve already visited The Grafton, The Vine, Camden Brewery, Lion & Unicorn, The Oxford and the Assembly House. I’ve a soft spot for Archers Street in Soho, where I spent my 30th Birthday and New Years Eve last year, which was a lot of fun.
Who or what do you hate and why?
Hate is a strong word, but people who really get to me are those people who are negative and always have something to complain about. Those who blame their surroundings or circumstance for who they are and why they do what they do. Yes, sometimes things happen that you can’t control but you can manage how you react and what you do, no matter how hard it can feel sometimes.
What’s been your best NW5 experience?
The launch of Kentish Cluster at The Grafton in April 2014. It was an amazing evening, bringing together the local community and the start of something really special.
What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
Someone once said my idea was never going to work, but that just gave me more drive to want to prove them wrong and make it succeed. As I founded Student Beans at such a young age, even now I’m often ten or twenty years younger than many of the decision-makers who attend events I go to. People very quickly judge you, make assumptions and write you off.
Tell us a secret.
I’m launching a new movement all about connecting people and a not-for-profit supporting young people. Follow me on Twitter @jameseder to find out more.
What has your career taught you?If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together (it’s an African Proverb). Over the years we’ve grown the team and as we continue to recruit it’s important to surround yourself with a brilliant people that can complement and add to your skillset. It’s important to understand who you are, where you can add value and how to play to your strengths.
What is your favourite dish and why?
Miso salmon, really quick and easy to make and melts in your mouth.
What did you do today?
I woke up and did some yoga, then phone calls pre-screening potential candidates for interviews. Met up with Spring Studios to confirm the next Kentish Cluster event (on 22nd October) which was really exciting and they are looking forward to hosting. Planned a speech I’m giving in a few weeks time at a UNESCO event in Germany and met up with a friend for tapas and drinks in King’s Cross.
Describe yourself as an animal.
Growing up we had a black labrador called Ebony and I can liken myself to her: friendly, self-confident and self-reliant, fiercely loyal and loving, powerful and playful.