Student website is selling condoms online


16-05-2001

An enterprising Cambridge University undergraduate who used his student loans to set up a website selling condoms on-line says it's already proving a safe bet.

Neil Nichols, 22, from Lyminge in Kent, and fellow Corpus Christi student Rob Newsome, 21, from Sheffield, launched GetCondomsOnline.com in November last year.



And Neil, who studies physics, says the site set up with the 3,000 is now getting between two and three hundred hits per day.



He said: 'We both sat down and planned it out - I work on the business side and Rob does the website coding because he studies computer science.



'I did a fair bit of market research and we were sure it would be a go-er from the start.



'I funded it with my three student loans for this year and we're already breaking even.'



Because the company has less overheads they can offer up to 29 per cent off the recommended retail price of the Durex range of condoms.



Neil said: 'We buy straight from Durex and don't go through any middle men and then we don't charge the recommended retail price because we can cut down our overheads to very little indeed.'



He says the secret of the success of the business is people's fear of buying condoms in shops.



'I don't think anyone enjoys buying condoms - it's not a pleasurable experience and some people find it very embarrassing.



'Many people will go to great lengths to avoid the human interaction that so often causes the customer to feel embarrassed or humiliated.



'I reckon half our clients are people searching the internet to buy condoms, and 30 per cent are Cambridge students and the other 20 per cent are from London and Oxford where we're marketing quite hard.'



But Neil, who is responsible for promoting GetCondomsOnline.com, said you have to be careful how you describe the business.



He said: 'Once I was giving a talk about the company and without thinking I said 'We're looking to penetrate the student market'.'



And people have mixed reactions when they learn he's a condom salesman.



Neil said: 'It's really funny - I think their first impression is one of surprise, then you see the expression on their faces change to 'that's a great idea'.'



Neil, who is in his final year, said he had no plans to sell the business when he leaves university.



'I'm certainly going to keep it and put some effort into ways of marketing it and making it grow.



'I think it's got great potential for growth,' he said.



By Stuart Leithes

 

The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

University of Cambridge (cam.ac.uk)