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Student wins national enterprise award

Student wins national enterprise award
Young entrepreneur Christian Owens
Tuesday 20th April 2010 by C. Freeman
Young entrepreneur Christian Owens has won a national award after setting up his own company which generated a turnover of half a million pounds in its first year. He won the 'Teen' category of the Daily Mail's Enterprising Young Brits competition and was presented with a trophy and £1,000 at the award ceremony.

Christian, who is in Year 11 at Brooke Weston, set up and runs Branchr, an online 'pay per click' advertising business. It acts as a middleman between large advertisers who want to get their message across and those who are paid to feature adverts on their websites.

He started the business in January 2009, intending it to be a hobby and a way of making a little pocket money. Within a couple of months it became really successful and now employs one person in this country and three in America with a UK office set to open in July. Now it's established he spends a couple of hours a night on it, and slightly longer at weekends.

'We have around 3,000 advertisers and 17,000 publishers of websites. Most of the advertisers are small to medium businesses but we also have larger ones like William Hill, Myspace and eBay.'

Branchr processes over 500 million adverts per month, and, at the last tally it had generated £1.75 million in revenue for its advertisers. They have two ways of advertising, either by 'pay per click' or else by purchasing a set amount of adverts that will flash up on screen.

Christian was nominated for the Daily Mail award by his parents and, to qualify, he had to pass a selection panel at the Institute of Directors, presenting a short pitch and answering questions from the experts. A shortlist of five candidates in five categories was drawn up for the Awards evening, held in the Nash Room of the Institute of Directors. Christian was presented with his award by Miles Templeman, Director General of the Institute. Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills was in attendance, alongside a large press pack.

Christian, who is 15, said: 'I thought it was great when I got into the final, I didn't expect to win because there were some other really good people in the teen category; one who started up their own clothing line, another with a stationery company. There was also a charitable organisation and a couple who set up another web business.'

He is planning to plough his £1,000 prize money back into the business and, since his win, he has been featured on local television, radio and newspapers.

Christian hopes to set up further successful internet businesses, but says of Branchr: 'Hopefully it's the sort of business that can keep running. At the moment I don't know whether I plan to stop on for the Sixth Form at Brooke Weston, it depends how everything goes. I want to try and grow the business as much as I can but obviously if something goes wrong with it I want to have an education to fall back on.'

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