On the road to success - Southampton graduate sets up travel company
Jetsetting University of Southampton graduate Andy Fidler is heading for the heights with his new Internet company aimed at students taking gap years.
The seasoned world-traveller has set up findaGap.com. It provides young people with an A-Z guide to gap years and backpacking. The guide highlights travel opportunities and facts on working or volunteering abroad, together with vital information on health and visa requirements. The website already receives 10,000 visitors a month.
"Gap years are now very popular with students," explained Andy. "Employers value them as a way of broadening horizons and increasing self-confidence. A good gap year should be a mixture of valuable experience for later life ... and fun."
He left Southampton in 2003 with a BEng degree in Aerospace Engineering but had already decided to start up his own business. Now fellow Southampton graduate Gordon Bennell has also joined Andy in the company.
"People at the University's Centre for Enterprise and Innovation were a great help in getting me started," said Andy. "They encouraged me to take my idea forward, advised on my business plan and arranged inspirational talks from people who'd already succeeded in the world of commerce."
CEI Business Manager Rosy Jones added, "I'm delighted at Andy's success with findaGap.com Our "setting up in business" seminar spawned a few student business ideas and we're really pleased that our support has helped him on his way.
"I hope his example will be followed by many more student entrepreneurs and that we'll be able to help them too, either through our student entrepreneurs' club, our student business investment fund, or just through the surgeries and seminars we run over the course of the year."
Andy has worked as a snowboard instructor in California, travelled in Thailand, taught parasailing in Miami and headed for the beach to become a lifeguard in South Carolina.
The 23 year old, who lives in Gerrards Cross, is now hard at work developing the website and putting in long hours to make his business a success. "I was hoping there would be plenty of opportunities to travel for findaGap.com but so far the furthest I've been is Birmingham," he joked.
Notes for editors
The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has over 19,200 students and 4,800 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £250 million.