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Kiron Phillips

"Having a placement year was a big reason for choosing to come to Harper. I am a practical learner and so my placement year was hugely valuable."

Being at university is a great place to learn the skills and know-how to turn your ideas into a thriving business. Harper Adams will help you to develop new ways of thinking, learn about business, get support from lecturers with tons of experience, use our specialist facilities, meet influential people, and get practical experience on placement.

Take entrepreneur Kiron Phillips, who has set up his own premium vodka business during his three-year foundation degree. The 22-year- old, from Northamptonshire, created RK Vodka, single-distilled from organic British sugar beet in traditional copper pots to create an exceptional flavour, with a distinctive brand.

“ I started the company because I love being able to create new things and I want to work for myself,” says Kiron, who began developing the company in his first year at university, and started trading in his final year. However, it is the placement year inbetween that Kiron feels has been most useful in his fledgling business career. “Having a placement year was a big reason for choosing to come to Harper. I am a practical learner and so my placement year was hugely valuable, not least because I was earning a salary and saving money to allow me to do my own thing with RK Vodka. The idea of being self-employed stems from my father who also runs his own business. He is in a completely different industry to me but he gave me fantastic advice on the reality of setting up a business.”

Balancing his studies with creating a business is a tough task but Kiron realised that not only could he use what he learned at university to build his business, he could also use his business as a great case study for his research project and other coursework.

One of Kiron’s important realisations was to identify what he was interested in, to come up with lots of ideas, and to play to his strengths – in this case, a love of branding. “My experience in this field comes from the marketing and design side of things. I am studying for a degree in marketing but I also worked for my father’s company in the design department.

And on placement, with BTC Group in West London, a promotional merchandise company, I helped with elements of graphic design

“Creating the business has been a long process and things still aren’t fully in place but it’s getting there. I spend every single day doing some form of work for RK Vodka but I love doing it!”

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