August 5, 2013, by Jemma Utley

How I Went From Graduate to CEO in 3 Years

By Freddy Brick– CEO of Grad Diary

‘I realised there was a gap in the market’

I graduated from The University of Nottingham in 2010 with a degree in Finance, Accounting and Management but was inspired to start a business of my own during second year.


Freddy graduating in 2010

Alongside another Nottingham student, I threw around a lot of ideas and spent a while considering starting a, student-focused, market research company. Despite not pursuing this idea we identified how attractive the student market was. As we both sat down to apply for banks and accounting firms it was then I realised there was a gap in the market for easily accessible company information.

‘I surveyed hundreds of students’

To develop the idea of Grad Diary I surveyed hundreds of students at Nottingham, as well as a number of other UK universities, to ask them what information they wanted to help them apply for financial services firms.

I was amazed to find how many couldn’t find information on working at a financial institution, missed application deadlines, or were unaware that some firms kept their application open all year round. With this, I had the basis for Grad Diary and I was sure we had something new to offer, so I partnered with an old school friend who coded and designed the site for me.

‘I probably underestimated how difficult it would be’

Most people think that getting a website up and running is the ‘hard bit’ but the site only required a small amount of capital to get going and the hard work was just about to begin!

I had a fairly solid background in how to set up a business from some of the modules I had taken at university, but I probably underestimated how difficult it would be to get companies to join the platform. I remember spending hours on the phone with each of our first corporate accounts just to convince them to give us some free data!

We also had to update the site to include new features and ideas such as our application organiser, which is new this year. The market is competitive so it is important we stay ahead of our competition, you certainly can’t relax and pat yourself on the back once the site starts to gain traction.

‘I would certainly recommend taking the plunge’

Looking back on what we have achieved over the past three years we now count a number of top graduate employers as our clients and we have a presence in over 60 universities in the UK. I would certainly recommend taking the plunge and starting your own business but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Identified a gap in the market or have a great idea for a product but don’t know where to start? Find out more about self-employment and entrepreneurship by getting in touch with the Ingenuity Lab.

Featured image credit: Jonathan Mueller

Posted in Alumni StoriesCareers AdviceChoosing Your CareerEntrepreneurship