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SSE Case Study: Liam Scanlan, University of Newcastle


Liam Scanlan UON

The experience was invaluable, and really encouraged me to challenge the status quo further.


Liam Scanlan operates his online surfwear brand Eat Your Water from his parents’ house and studies part-time at the University of Newcastle.

Afterstarting a degree in marine biology, he quickly realised typical career options for graduates didn’t suit him. He completed one year, but then transferred to a double degree in Business, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and launched his business.

During his second year, a lecturer encouraged him to apply to the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship’s first unit, The Navigator.

“I made more friends among that cohort of 50 people over a 12-week period than from the hundreds of people at university in two years,” says Liam.

A highlight was meeting people in the startup world, including the team at Blackbird Ventures. “It was an eye-opener to hear about the criteria they use to invest – like they want a business that’s global from day one,” he says. “It’s great to get that kind of knowledge firsthand.”

Almost a year later, he’s still in touch with many SSE graduates. He’s even exploring a joint initiative with Ashley Avci, a former Bachelor of Environment and Laws student at Macquarie University, who founded Shark Conservation Australia, to raise money and awareness.

Liam aims to reach a million dollars in sales by the time he leaves university. With 40,000 Instagram followers, a growing national market as well as new suppliers, he reckons it’s an achievable goal.

Although he still revels in running his own business, SSE has also helped contribute to his thinking about what he does next.

“I’m limited in what I can do with a clothing brand, but it’s an incredible learning experience and I want to keep it growing. I’m interested in renewable energy. I could set up another business…”