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Entrepreneurial spirit behind new business

Guy carrying books for girl 

Otago Connection

Samantha Berry
Samantha Berry

The seed planted as a business venture in Samantha Berry’s mind as an undergraduate student has come to fruition - thanks to her Master of Entrepreneurship studies.

The 24-year-old, who has almost completed her master’s degree, has this year launched her own business, UniTutor, an online private tutoring company for Otago University students.

Students can request a tutor for specific papers, such as “Accounting 101", and UniTutor will take care of the details online including the time, date, payment and location of the tutorial.

It was while studying at Otago for her degree in finance and honours degree in Japanese that the seeds for UniTutor were planted. While working as a lab demonstrator in the university’s finance department, Samantha was approached by a student asking if she could do some private tuition.

“I thought I didn’t have anything to lose, made up some notes that were relevant and it started from there; next thing more students started asking and eight semesters later I was pretty much doing it near fulltime.

“I realised I was one person private tutoring one paper - and with no advertising - imagine if there were other people doing the same thing for all the different first year papers.”

But it wasn’t until she began her degree of Master of Entrepreneurship studies last year that UniTutor got off the ground.

“I don’t think I would have known where to start and I wouldn’t have met the individuals I have met who have helped me - I now have a fantastic accountant and lawyer,” Samantha says.

“I have spoken with people that turn over $20 million a year and have taken all the advice they have given.”

Samantha is adamant her studies assisted significantly with her business venture.

“I had this idea in my mind, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to put it together. That idea went from a small idea to now, where I have a website and my own office on campus.”

Her office is housed in the University’s Centre for Innovation offices and she now has plans to take her venture nationwide to other universities.

“That’s something we have learnt, it’s all about the execution, doing it right and being first in the market.”

The University of Otago’s Master of Entrepreneurship is a 15 month programme designed to support those with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to start an innovative new venture. The course is designed to enable people who are working fulltime to participate with three full days of lectures followed by six weeks off.

Samantha is delighted her studies have enabled her to kick-start something that’s been a life-long ambition. “I’ve always been business-minded... I sold cell-phone covers when I was at high school and when I was young my mother owed me $3.60 and I said I would charge her 10 cents a day.

“Dad kept the piece of paper that I wrote, which I thought was a binding contract,” she laughs.

Now, she’s moved on to bigger business.