THE internet might be seen as the death of small shops but one young entrepreneur believes the two can work hand-in-hand to exploit the huge student market.

University of Southampton graduate Paul Musa has set up What&Where – website to connect students with local shops and restaurants.

Paul has received funding from the Southampton Student Union’s Enterprise Fund to help him start up the business.

The 21-year-old, who graduated with a first class degree in law from Southampton, said that he was inspired to set up the website when a friend asked him where he could buy an Afro-Caribbean hairbrush.

“I knew where he could because someone else had told me,” said Paul, who realised that he’d been the middleman, connecting a customer with a business owner.

Paul also realised that the students provided a huge ever-changing customer base – Southampton has 34,000 students – many unfamiliar with their new surroundings.

“The high street is dying and every day independents are closing down. We believe that we can offer real value to independents who face intense competition from established chains by connecting them with a consumer group, who descend upon new cities every year with needs, wants and home comforts,” said Paul.

The website is focusing on independents, shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and gyms.

After attending a law fair, Paul met with Sarah Rogers, a representative from the Student Enterprise team which resulted in the Union’s Enterprise Fund awarding Paul £500 to begin to build their online service, which launched earlier this month.

What&Where has also been awarded a place on the SetSquared’s UK Space Tech 2-day programme, which will allow Paul and his team to explore geolocation and other tools to improve their platform and build their business.

Paul, comes from London and has moved back there since graduating, but is focussing his business on Southampton.

If it proves successful he could scale up to university towns all over the UK.

“We want our student community to support local and independent businesses,” said Paul.

“Many of the businesses that we partner with are sole traders, family-run businesses and businesses set up by people who balance that with a full-time job. Local businesses that face rising leases and extreme pressure from established chains and e-commerce competitors can put away the shop window leaflets that do not guarantee consumer demand. Instead, they can buy into What&Where and our community-centric brand.”

Paul, who has gained a place on the NEF (New Entrepreneurs Foundation) programme, says he has put his law career on hold for at least a year.

“I want to see where this takes me,” he said.

Find out more at Independent businesses wishing to take part can contact Paul via the site or at