May 2016

Poundland tycoon inspires business students

Read time: approx 1 mins

Poundland founder and multi-millionaire Steve Smith has shared his tips for success with UCB’s business students.

From his early days working on his parents’ market stall in Bilston, to selling the Poundland empire for £50 million, his motivational story was well received by undergraduates studying Marketing Management BA (Hons) and Digital Marketing BA (Hons).

His visit was part of UCB’s Bright Spark Showcase, which provided a platform for final year students to unveil their ideas for new business concepts, ideas or processes.

Steve explained how the idea for Poundland came from the market stall, where he noticed his parents often made more money from items in the ‘10p - £1’ box than from anything else on the stall.

He founded Poundland in 1990, and sold the company 12 years later. The industry is now worth £5 billion and it is estimated 85 per cent of all people in Britain have visited a Poundland store.

Steve told students his philosophy was simple: “There are no bad products, only bad prices”.

He added: “Don’t spend time worrying about what the competition is doing, worry about what you’re doing. And if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you’re not doing it right.”

Steve spent time talking to the final year students and understanding their business concepts, which included a new app to support mums returning to education. He said he was impressed by what he saw, adding: “There is obviously a lot of passion here today. I’m always looking for my next £1 billion pound business, so I am keen to see the next generation of business people.”

Also speaking at the event was Matt Kepple, founder of, a digital platform which enables people to see the difference their donation makes when they give to different charities. Joining him was Adriana Braje, a UCB student, vlogger and rising star of YouTube, who gave her first-hand insight into social media marketing.

Dilshad Sheikh, Dean of The Business School, said the event was a great way to end the academic year. She added: “We have so much talent in the Business School and this was a fabulous opportunity to demonstrate the skills, competencies and professionalism of our students. Steve Smith was extremely inspirational. He truly believes that the great entrepreneurs of the future are being nurtured in Business Schools like ours.”

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