Regent’s is well known for the quality of entrepreneurs it nurtures and develops. We catch up with study abroad alumnus John-Michael Sookias as he launches a brand new recommendations website, Twenty Something London.
Tell us a little about yourself
I studied at Regent’s College through the study abroad program. I came over from Marymount College in California despite being born in London. I moved to the States when I was a child, coming back every year for visits, then moved back to London last Summer. The time at Regents really motivated me. I saw all the amazing things the diverse students were achieving and that gave me a boost to work hard. When I returned to Los Angeles I was accepted to Chapman University. At Chapman I was the rowing team captain and the vice-president of the Argyros Marketing Society until graduating in May 2011. Along with the launch of Twenty Something London I also do freelance web design and Internet marketing.
What’s the big idea?
Twenty Something London is a recommendations website with a social mission. The businesses that we recommend for young-spirited Londoners become part of our collective that we help promote. This power in numbers gives them a chance against their bigger competitors. It aims to provide quality recommendations on anything and everything in London; reserve tables in great little restaurants, buy tickets to interesting unknown events, and read about anything exciting going on. All in all, it’s a site that’s proud to be a socially responsible business - acting as a platform for independent businesses to extend their reach. In doing so, it wishes to help savour and protect something priceless: London’s culture.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I have always wanted be able to help people or make some sort of difference. However, there were no direct forms of helping people that excited me. My father once told me that I don't have to go out and try to help every person myself. If I work hard I can put myself in a position to make a difference on a bigger scale. So I decided to work hard through university and start a business for myself. I immediately started working on literally any idea that popped in my head, no matter how far fetched it sounded. I heard Seth Godin (an entrepreneur) once say the crazier the idea sounded, the better the chance that it will be big, after all, if it sounds easy then someone's already thought of it. The first few ideas didn't work out but I eventually had the right idea, with the right partner, with the right people around me, in the right place, and at the right time. If one of those weren't there, then it wouldn't have worked out. You get a sense of pride and excitement when you have something you created yourself, now that I've experienced it; I have this burning hunger to see it grow.
Do you think there is an entrepreneurial spirit at Regent’s?
I've had some of my best memories at Regent's. One of the qualities I loved about Regent's College was the relationship between the faculty and the students. First of all, I admired how we were treated like adults, but most of all I loved the personal attention that we received from our professors. The desire they had to help each student grow to their potential developed a real entrepreneurial spirit on campus. Everyone felt supported by their professors to achieve whatever we wanted to.