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10 Uni Success Stories To Inspire The Heck Out Of You

As if you weren't excited enough already...

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Careers aren't just made in the classroom.

It could be in the library, student union, even down the local café after a heavy night. Here are 10 inspirational business stories that all started with friendships formed at university.

1. Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain

Writing duo Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, the BAFTA-winning brains behind Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and That Mitchell and Webb Look, took the same creative writing class at Manchester University, appropriately enough. However, how they actually met was under slighter stranger circumstances. Sam knew there was a classmate dating his ex-girlfriend, but wasn't sure who. He had narrowed the love rival down to being one of two people: either Jesse or someone else. Thankfully, it turned out to be someone else!
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Writing duo Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, the BAFTA-winning brains behind Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and That Mitchell and Webb Look, took the same creative writing class at Manchester University, appropriately enough.

However, how they actually met was under slighter stranger circumstances. Sam knew there was a classmate dating his ex-girlfriend, but wasn't sure who. He had narrowed the love rival down to being one of two people: either Jesse or someone else. Thankfully, it turned out to be someone else!

2. Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna

Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna met at Harvard Business School and knew early on they wanted to go into business together – it was just a case of finding the right idea. Both fashion lovers, Birchbox came about through a mutual frustration at the burgeoning online beauty retail industry. With so many options, it was impossible navigate them all without spending a serious amount of cash. So their solution was a subscription service that delivered a box of new samples every month for $10, allowing customers to trial new products without a large expense or commitment. Today it pulls in an estimated $170 million a year.
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Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna met at Harvard Business School and knew early on they wanted to go into business together – it was just a case of finding the right idea.

Both fashion lovers, Birchbox came about through a mutual frustration at the burgeoning online beauty retail industry. With so many options, it was impossible navigate them all without spending a serious amount of cash. So their solution was a subscription service that delivered a box of new samples every month for $10, allowing customers to trial new products without a large expense or commitment. Today it pulls in an estimated $170 million a year.

3. Adam Balon, Richard Reed, and Jon Wright

Cambridge Uni friends Adam Balon, Richard Reed, and Jon Wright's first business was organising local club nights. That didn't work, so the flatmates pursued jobs in advertising.Four years later, the trio had another idea: to crack the healthy eating market. So, in 1999, they created a natural smoothie recipe and set up a stall at a jazz festival in Parsons Green. They put a big sign up asking if punters thought they should give up their jobs to make smoothies, with one bin for "Yes" and a second for "No". By the end of the weekend, the "Yes" bin was full, and eventually Innocent Drinks was born.
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Cambridge Uni friends Adam Balon, Richard Reed, and Jon Wright's first business was organising local club nights. That didn't work, so the flatmates pursued jobs in advertising.

Four years later, the trio had another idea: to crack the healthy eating market. So, in 1999, they created a natural smoothie recipe and set up a stall at a jazz festival in Parsons Green. They put a big sign up asking if punters thought they should give up their jobs to make smoothies, with one bin for "Yes" and a second for "No". By the end of the weekend, the "Yes" bin was full, and eventually Innocent Drinks was born.

4. Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek

The two founding members of The Doors met at UCLA Film School, although Morrison only continued his education to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War.After talking on Venice Beach, the two decided to combine their respective poetry (Morrison) and musical (Manzarek) talents to form what would go on to be one of the most influential bands of a generation. The degree didn't go to waste, either, with the pair producing the band's earlier music videos.
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The two founding members of The Doors met at UCLA Film School, although Morrison only continued his education to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War.

After talking on Venice Beach, the two decided to combine their respective poetry (Morrison) and musical (Manzarek) talents to form what would go on to be one of the most influential bands of a generation. The degree didn't go to waste, either, with the pair producing the band's earlier music videos.

5. Doug Perkins and Dame Mary Perkins

A different kind of beginning, Doug and Mary met at Cardiff University in the 1960s studying ophthalmic optics before taking over Mary's father's opticians business. However, the real success came in 1984 when the two founded Specsavers from a table-tennis table in the couple's spare room. Fast-forward to 2011, and Dame Mary became Britain's first female self-made billionaire.
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A different kind of beginning, Doug and Mary met at Cardiff University in the 1960s studying ophthalmic optics before taking over Mary's father's opticians business.

However, the real success came in 1984 when the two founded Specsavers from a table-tennis table in the couple's spare room. Fast-forward to 2011, and Dame Mary became Britain's first female self-made billionaire.

6. Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian

Reddit founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian (pictured) were roommates at the University of Virginia who bonded over a common love of video games. After an epiphany in a local Waffle House, they approached serial entrepreneur Paul Graham, who suggested, "You guys need to build the front page of the internet." Three weeks later, Reddit had been built, and one year later, Condé Nast made the duo multimillionaires. Today the online community, which allows users to "upvote" their favourite comments and stories, has over 160 million unique visitors per month.
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Reddit founders Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian (pictured) were roommates at the University of Virginia who bonded over a common love of video games. After an epiphany in a local Waffle House, they approached serial entrepreneur Paul Graham, who suggested, "You guys need to build the front page of the internet."

Three weeks later, Reddit had been built, and one year later, Condé Nast made the duo multimillionaires. Today the online community, which allows users to "upvote" their favourite comments and stories, has over 160 million unique visitors per month.

7. Stacey Bendet

Stacey Bendet had no fashion industry experience or design training when she graduated Penn University in 2001, yet today her lifestyle brand Alice + Olivia is sold in 800 stores worldwide and worth over $150 million.Instead, Stacey was making flash sites for fashion brands when, one day, she decided to learn how to patternmake from one of her clients. Spurred on by positive comments about her initial efforts, she teamed up with classmate Rebecca Matchett, who handled operations. Named after the pair's mothers, the label soon caught the eye of Theory CEO Andrew Rosen. Bendet and Rosen bought out Matchett's stake, went into business together, and they haven't needed another investor since.
Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.co.uk

Stacey Bendet had no fashion industry experience or design training when she graduated Penn University in 2001, yet today her lifestyle brand Alice + Olivia is sold in 800 stores worldwide and worth over $150 million.

Instead, Stacey was making flash sites for fashion brands when, one day, she decided to learn how to patternmake from one of her clients. Spurred on by positive comments about her initial efforts, she teamed up with classmate Rebecca Matchett, who handled operations.

Named after the pair's mothers, the label soon caught the eye of Theory CEO Andrew Rosen. Bendet and Rosen bought out Matchett's stake, went into business together, and they haven't needed another investor since.

8. Peter Williams and Robert Shaw.

Williams (pictured) and Shaw opened their first Jack Wills shop in Salcombe, Devon, in 1999; the pair being university friends from their time at UCL, who saw a gap in the market for stylish, British university fashion at the higher end of the market.After two years of trading, the pair nearly gave up. But a rejection from a job at a bank added to their resolve, and they pushed on with the venture by opening a second shop in Suffolk. By choosing to rely solely on viral and word of mouth marketing, the label now has stores all over the world and turned over £150million in 2013.
gettyimages.co.uk

Williams (pictured) and Shaw opened their first Jack Wills shop in Salcombe, Devon, in 1999; the pair being university friends from their time at UCL, who saw a gap in the market for stylish, British university fashion at the higher end of the market.

After two years of trading, the pair nearly gave up. But a rejection from a job at a bank added to their resolve, and they pushed on with the venture by opening a second shop in Suffolk. By choosing to rely solely on viral and word of mouth marketing, the label now has stores all over the world and turned over £150million in 2013.

9. Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi

Drew Houston came up with the idea for Dropbox in 2007 as he sat in a bus station, and the USB he needed sat at home. Meanwhile, fellow MIT student Arash Ferdowsi was watching the success of friend and classmate Kyle Vogt, who had recently left to set up Justin.tv. As a recent graduate of MIT himself, Houston began scouring the college for a partner, and it was Vogt who connected the two. In just 90 short days of day-and-night work, Dropbox raised $7.2 million in venture capital investment, moved to San Francisco and is currently valued at $10 billion.
WireImage / Getty Images / Via gettyimages.co.uk

Drew Houston came up with the idea for Dropbox in 2007 as he sat in a bus station, and the USB he needed sat at home. Meanwhile, fellow MIT student Arash Ferdowsi was watching the success of friend and classmate Kyle Vogt, who had recently left to set up Justin.tv.

As a recent graduate of MIT himself, Houston began scouring the college for a partner, and it was Vogt who connected the two. In just 90 short days of day-and-night work, Dropbox raised $7.2 million in venture capital investment, moved to San Francisco and is currently valued at $10 billion.

10. Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Emma Thompson

One of Britain's best-loved comedy double acts met in the '80s, thanks to actress and mutual friend Emma Thompson, who introduced them whilst at Cambridge University.The trio won the prestigious Perrier Comedy Award at Edinburgh Fringe in 1981 as part of the university's comedy troupe, and much of their early success came together too, catching their breaks in '80s sketch shows There's Nothing to Worry About! and Alfresco, as well as mockumentary The Crystal Cube.
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One of Britain's best-loved comedy double acts met in the '80s, thanks to actress and mutual friend Emma Thompson, who introduced them whilst at Cambridge University.

The trio won the prestigious Perrier Comedy Award at Edinburgh Fringe in 1981 as part of the university's comedy troupe, and much of their early success came together too, catching their breaks in '80s sketch shows There's Nothing to Worry About! and Alfresco, as well as mockumentary The Crystal Cube.

Don't underestimate the importance of meeting new people at university. The people you meet could shape your lives. Watch Jon and Pach's story to find out how.

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