Loughborough Alumni

Our alumni

David Stretton-Downes

CEO: Vidan Lawnes & CharityShopper App

David Stretton-Downes studied at Loughborough University between 2007 and 2010, attaining a BSc in Product Design. David also took part in a range of extra-curricular activities during his studies, with sport and design playing a key part.

David has worked in corporates, NGO's, Start-ups, MNC's and now runs his own ventures. David set up a business, Vidan Lawnes, alongside friends soon after leaving University.

Vidan Lawnes is an independent full service agency that exists to create innovative brands, products, services and campaigns across all mediums, that engage audiences, communicate stories and ideas, and solve real problems for clients across the globe. Vidan Lawnes has operations in London, Nairobi and Tokyo. He is also the Director of sister company, Tenpast Events, which is a creative events agency, dedicated to providing a bespoke service for all types of events.

He has also worked closely on other campaigns, including “Six Times Open” which he led alongside his twin brother to raise thousands of pounds for the British Heart Foundation. The pair dedicated a year to the campaign, supporting the charity which has a personal connection to their family.

David is based in London, and has now shared some of his recent successes with us, including businesses in the design, events and retail sectors, and most recently adding to this portfolio with a tech start-up and food brand.

Why study at Loughborough University and how has your time here inspired and helped you since?

Design was one of my best subjects at school and always comprised elements of problem solving and innovation. Studying a Design subject at Loughborough University provided me with a great network and a range of contacts that has enabled me to develop skills in areas such as communication, product and service development and campaign management which has fed into my own businesses post-Graduation. In terms of inspiring me and aiding my career, I have gained so much from Loughborough University and am really keen to give back. Communicating ideas and regular problem solving and active competition in such a high achieving institution as Loughborough has been vital to my successes.

How important were extra-curricular activities during your studies?

Taking part in regular sport helped to provide me with an all-round experience, which was very important to me and widened my network on an already campus-based University with lots of opportunities to meet new people. As a proud alumni, I am passionate about seeing Loughborough University continually develop and regularly attend Schofield Society dinners and visit Loughborough London. This has further widened my network and enabled me to socialise with a fantastic group of like-minded people.

Can you tell us about your career immediately after graduation?

Following the completion of my degree in 2010, myself and a fellow Loughborough alumni founded Vidan Lawnes. We built up business and a client base whilst working in other full-time employment. During the interim, I worked at Pal International, developing their Marketing and product offering, and in 3 years played a part in developing and launching over 80 products to market in the NHS and the UK food sector. In 2014, we went full time with the company, and since then it has gone from strength to strength. Since 2015, Vidan Lawnes has developed, and now has offices in London alongside a plethora of clients and projects ranging from start-ups and product development, to print and TV campaigns, often with ideas of  our own being developed in house. One such example is the CharityShopper app we are currently developing.

Vidan Lawnes is an integrated creative agency that exists to create and deliver innovative products, services and campaigns that that engage audiences, communicate stories, and solve real problems for clients across the globe.

How has the idea for CharityShopper come about?

At Vidan Lawnes, our ethos is to constantly develop our team and their ideas into reality. We have weekly ideation sessions where the team develops ideas and passion projects. We think it's really important to not just work on projects for clients but also develop ideas to take commercial in house.  

In 2016, my twin brother, Jonathan Stretton-Downes, joined the company. We both have a passion for charities and sustainable business, and out of this came the idea for CharityShopper, the app that helps you locate over 10,000 charity shops all over the UK at the click of a button. Due to the interest from major charities in the UK, this has now become its own entity and we have plans to launch the app in 2017. Our KPIs are to ensure people download the app, but more importantly we want to help bring the third sector into the digital age and through the app increase the footfall, and ultimately donations and sales, for the charities themselves.

The launch will take place in early 2017 and we are planning to host a large event with key charities and partners in attendance.

We wish David, the charities and other key stakeholders the best of luck with the launch of CharityShopper and look forward to following up on its success!

If you would like to be kept up to date with David's work, you can follow @DavidSDownes@VidanLawnes or @CharityShopper_ on Twitter.

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