University of York student Ryan Hill and Emily Aktins put their brains together to come up with entrepreneurial idea to start their own lettings business.


  • Studying: BSc in Management, Accounting & Finance
  • University: University of York
  • Experience: Director of The Student Agency

Emily Atkins

  • Studying: BSc Maths and Statistics
  • University: University of York
  • Experience: Graphic Designer 

When did the idea first come about to start a student run letting agency in York? I had a bad experience whilst finding my house for second year. After talking to housemates and classmates, I realised I wasn’t the only one. Using my experience in property, I decided to take on the challenge of starting my own letting agency to provide better service. Emily and I brainstormed ideas last January and planned how to start the project, and she used her experience in graphic design to bring the idea to life.

How long has the company been going now and where do you see it in five years time? The business has been going for nearly 8 months so it is relatively new, but we have already expanded to the second university in our city. We plan to expand to other universities around the country as soon as we graduate in 2017.

You’re studying for a BSc in Management, Accounting and Finance, so how do you go about juggling being a director of a company and student life? I find the course gives me skills that I can use in The Student Agency and I can use the experience I gain from the business in my classes. The balance can be hard as I am very focused and passionate about the business and can be submerged into it. This can have an effect on my student life, which normally means less nights out.

What has been the biggest challenge to date at The Student Agency? I have found it hard having people that follow my interest in business to this extent or people involved in the same field. There are not many student run letting agencies, and none that I am aware of that are set up by a student, as opposed to a university run agency.  This can make it hard, as I have so much energy and passion and talk about my plans and ideas all of the time. I am very fortunate to have Emily (girlfriend and business partner) as she gives me loads of support and is a great sounding board. I have also got a few very close friends who do share the same passion for projects like this and it really helps.

Has it always been an ambition of yours to run your own business? And who would you say is your biggest inspiration to be successful? I have always wanted to run a business since I was very young. It always seemed like a realistic career path for me. This may be because I come from a very entrepreneurial background where both my parents ran their own businesses. Both of my brothers also run their own businesses so it feels second nature to me. I feel that my family would also be my inspiration as they have given me the confidence from a young age that I can reach my aims and goals if I work hard.

What do students benefit from letting off of a business that is run by fellow classmates? We are completely free to the students of York. Most letting agencies in the city charge anywhere between £40-80 per person for finding a property- and students do like to save money!The-Student-Agency2Why is it so important that student’s opinions and voices are heard in all aspects of university? University is a place that attracts people from all over the world of different backgrounds and views. I feel this is a great opportunity to learn from each other.

The Student Agency has been nominated for a Great British Entrepreneur Award, congratulations! What are the plans if you win? The award ceremony is a great opportunity to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and to be inspired. We plan to use the coverage we would gain as a platform to expand to other cities. Sadly this will have to wait until we graduate.

What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneur with an idea today? Although it is very important to do your research and make sure it is a viable business, it is equally important to ensure you do not let negative people stop you from your going after your aims and ambitions. You can overcome a lot of the barriers when you have no other option.