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Nick Bassan

‘I launched a start-up alongside my OU studies’

Entrepreneur and Business Studies graduate Nick Bassan says The Open University was the perfect place to launch his smart-tech clothing brand.

After two attempts at university, Nick, 29, says the OU gave him the flexibility he needed to achieve a degree – all while continuing to grow his business.

“I was able to apply learnings from my course to both the job I work at and the business I’m developing. It was a match made in heaven,” he said.

The freedom and flexibility allowed Nick to spend any spare hour focused on building his business from the ground up:

I love the freedom that the OU gave me. They provided me with a wide range of course materials like books, videos, and other materials, and they let me choose how I approached my coursework in a way that best suited me. The OU are so well built for the digital age and perfectly suited to me as an entrepreneur.

The ‘light bulb’ moment

After working in the design industry, it was a role at a high street fashion store that first sparked Nick’s idea for a business.

“When I was working in Next, I used to speak to a lot of customers who returned items,” he explained. “It was always the same thing – that the product doesn’t fit right. And I thought, ‘this is a problem I can come up with a solution to’.”

He got to work developing the idea for Niqolas Bassano, a clothing brand that would have wearable technology at its core. It soon attracted support from the Princes Trust Enterprise Programme.

“As well as enhanced design and fit, I wanted to focus on the sustainability side of things and use technology like digital passports,” said Nick. “If you scan the label of a garment, you’d be able to see where the yarn and fabric was milled or where the product was manufactured, all the way to recycling centres where you can recycle the product.”

The perfect place for an entrepreneur

It was while developing his concept that Nick realised returning to university would give him the best chance of future success. He soon found the flexibility a world apart from his past experiences of education.

“There’s a lot of freedom in The Open University,” he said. “At brick university, when I was in a lecture room with so many other students, I felt restricted. At the OU, you have the freedom to approach each task in so many ways using the course materials. I think that’s the best way because you’re not constricted.

“Things are fast and instantaneous. I think that’s because it’s a university that was born digital. The OU has always been online. Look at how quickly the OU could adapt to COVID, for example. I definitely think it’s where the future of learning is. That’s what really worked for me as you only need a laptop to get going.”

Another pleasant surprise was how Nick could apply the learnings from each module directly to his start-up.

“One module covered subjects like supply, logistics, economy and the social world. I thought, ‘This is tying into everything I’m doing!’ I knew this is where I should be, and I wish that I’d studied at the OU years ago.”

Achieving a degree dream

Balancing a business alongside his studies took a lot of determination – something which Nick believes sets OU graduates apart:

“There’s the challenge of working and studying, and that’s what the OU is all about. It’s working around your schedule and moulding studies around your life. I think that experience is worth more because it shows that you’ve done other things while you’re studying.”

All of Nick’s hard work was realised when he completed his degree in 2019. He admits, at times, he wasn’t sure he would get there.

“It was really surreal on graduation day. I just didn’t think that it would ever be me up there on the stage. But it was really cool and definitely an achievement.”

Ambitious entrepreneur Nick continues to develop his business and one day hopes to support other entrepreneurs. “There are so many lives I want to change and so much work I have to do to fulfil my purpose being here,” he said. “The ultimate ambition is for me to have an office that I can employ people to work for our business and ultimately give them security for their own lives. I want to support other people in the same position as me.

I’d like to give others the inspiration to pursue their own dreams and ambitions.

Be inspired with more Stories of Ambition

Nick is part of our new ‘Stories of Ambition’ campaign, which showcases four inspiring students who have the ambition to change their lives through The Open University. Discover what it’s been like for them to study at the OU and watch their videos now at Stories of Ambition.

This article was originally published on The OU news website; click to read the original article.