The Dragon is incredibly proud of ODs continuing to reach for the sun and who, in doing so, have become hugely successful in a wide range of fields. From making a piece of history like Francesca Wilcox (OD 2013) to developing life-saving apps like Michael Dent (OD 2002), capturing snow leopards on camera like Dan O’Neil (OD 2005) to playing for England like Maia Bouchier (OD 2012) … Read on for the next feature in our Diversity of Dragons series, where the Dragon hears from entrepreneurs Mae Yip (OD 2004) and Sam Hornsby (OD 2004), Co-Founders of ERIC.
C Block to Startup
Sam Hornsby (OD 2004) and Mae Yip (OD 2004)
It all began in the legendary C Block. Sam and I locked eyes across the bustling playground and instantly knew we would become best friends. Fast forward two decades, and here we stand, still the closest of friends, but now as business partners and co-founders of ERIC, a career platform for young people aspiring to break into the creative industries.
Sam and I were both brimming with creativity, and the Dragon gave us the canvas to explore our dreams. I had aspirations of becoming a shoe designer, while Sam would spend hours and hours with Ma Sturt in the pottery classroom, inspiring her to pursue an art career.
“Our creative aspirations took a back seat as we pursued very different career paths.”
Our lives then took different paths as we entered separate schools — myself at Headington School and Sam at Rugby School. Our creative aspirations took a back seat as we pursued very different career paths. I became an accountant, diving into the world of numbers at PwC, while Sam skipped university and dove headfirst into the exciting startup scene.
Yet, our creative dreams were never forgotten. As we immersed ourselves in the working world, we began to recognise the incredible creative opportunities that existed, but barriers still hindered young people. So, we decided to take action.
Before the pandemic, ERIC was originally an events company that transformed dry career fairs into vibrant, immersive festivals, attracting thousands of young people: picture stages, live music, inspiring speakers, and endless inspiration.
The events were a tremendous success and led us to host sixteen career festivals at prestigious venues, including the Barbican and Somerset House. The pandemic forced us to pause these events, but it also allowed us to rethink our mission. Last year, we launched the ERIC app.
Today, the award-winning app connects young people with the skills and opportunities they need to pursue creative careers, partnering with world-class creative companies such as Roundhouse, Warner Music, and Penguin Books.
“It all began in the legendary C Block. Sam and I locked eyes across the bustling playground and instantly knew we would become best friends. Fast forward two decades, and here we stand, still the closest of friends, but now as business partners.”
We’ve empowered over 150,000 young people and forged partnerships with many incredible organisations, such as the Department For Work and Pensions, helping tens of thousands of unemployed youth gain experience. And just Last year, we were chosen as Telegraph & Natwest’s Top 100 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch, amongst several other awards. We’ve also published government-recognised and industry-changing research about creative careers and the future of work and are now seen as world-class thought leaders in the field.
While our journey is far from over, the next phase involves closing our next investment round and launching a new feature. Integrating ERIC into every school and university UK-wide. We would love to connect with any ODs interested in learning more. www.meet-eric.com / [email protected] .
Let us know what you’ve been up to since your Dragon Days, we’d love to share your story.
Header Image: Mae Yip & Sam Hornsby (ODs 2004)