News release

Date: 26th September 2012

SETsquared student entrepreneurship events paying off for ElephantBranded

Ethical bag company wins John Lewis distribution and continues to grow

September 26th, 2012 - ElephantBranded, a supplier of ethical bags and related products, is going from strength to strength – supported all the way by mentoring and events run by the SETsquared Partnership (

From October, ElephantBranded products will be available at John Lewis stores across the UK. It is also currently appearing in the BBC3 series ‘Be Your Own Boss’, presented by Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed.

ElephantBranded has been a regular participant in events organised by SETsquared to support student entrepreneurship. In June, it won SETsquared’s Uni Popshop competition, where it triumphed over five other teams by making the largest profit at a one-day trading event at London’s Spitalfields Market. ElephantBranded also took part in SETsquared’s Deloitte pitching contest in March.

The company’s founder, James Boon, is an architecture student at the University of Bath, one of the five SETsquared member universities. His partner in the company is Tim Mendelssohn, who graduated this year in international management and modern languages at Bath. James set up ElephantBranded after working and travelling in Africa and Asia, where he was shocked by the basic level of school equipment.

In April, Boon was named one of Google’s ‘Zeitgeist Young Minds’ in the company’s annual online competition to find exceptional, motivated and inspiring 18 – 24 year olds from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

James Boon, Founder at ElephantBranded, said: "The support provided by SETsquared, including mentoring and its student entrepreneurship events, has been invaluable in helping me develop ElephantBranded, and in boosting my skills in running a business.”

Graham Harrison, Partnership Director at SETsquared, said: “ElephantBranded shows how it’s possible to start an ethical business and build it from the ground up without compromising your ideals – we look forward to seeing where James and the business go next.”

ElephantBranded sells ethically made, recycled bags and related products. For each product it sells, it donates a school bag and kit to a child in Africa or Asia. ElephantBranded pays fair, competitive wages to the people who make its bag out of locally sourced, recycled materials. It also gives people the opportunity to learn valuable skills that give them a sustainable, effective way to get out of poverty.


About the SETsquared Partnership:
Twitter: @SETsquared

The SETsquared Partnership ( is the enterprise collaboration of the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. Together, the universities employ 7,400 academic staff; earn nearly 10% of the UK’s higher education research budget; and produce 11% of all UK university patents.

The partnership has a 10-year track record of supporting companies through its innovation centres, which provide access to industry specialists, investors and experienced entrepreneurs. SETsquared currently supports over 250 early stage high-tech, high growth potential businesses, and 88% of its incubated companies are still in business three years on. In the past five years, nearly £0.75bn in investment funding has been raised by spin outs and incubated companies.

SETsquared supports its student population of over 90,000 graduate and undergraduates to gain hands on business skills and entrepreneurial training through experiential inter-university activities. The Partnership also provides opportunities for industry to access academic ideas with commercial potential and develop collaborative R&D relationships. The Partnership seeks to promote the impact, economically and socially, of its institutions’ research and enterprise activities.

About ElephantBranded: (
Its name is ElephantBranded and the idea is simple. You buy one ethically made, recycled bag or related product and we give one ergonomically designed school bag and kit to a child in Africa or Asia. Simple as that. We pay a fair, competitive wage to local villagers who make our bag out of locally sourced, recycled materials. Not only do they get a fair, reasonable wage but they also have the opportunity to learn valuable skills that permit them to have a sustainable, effective way to get out of poverty.

For Further information:
Nick Daines, Lumen PR
Tel: 0115 8412109
Mobile: 07958 534731

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