Category Archives: Student Stories

Jerks – An authentic Afro-Caribbean restaurant chain

Business: Jerks

Founder: Rui Daniel

Please tell us about your business/project:

rui cel ent

Rui Daniel (to the left)

Jerk’s seeks to be a lunch and dinner destination for authentic Afro-Caribbean cuisine throughout the UK.  Its menu will feature grilled and fried food, including brown stew chicken, jollof rice and cold, refreshing drinks like powerful ginger and sweet hibiscus.

It will also have a number of vegetarian options such as zesty red beans and rice and sweet fried plantains. I plan to have a strong reputation for excellent customer service. We will develop a customised mobile app to allow busy individuals to pre-order and pick up their food right away.

What inspired you to start your own business/project?

The Afro-Caribbean cuisine is fantastic, however, it lacks representation. Our aim is to change the picture and bring authentic Caribbean cuisine across the U.K.

What was your biggest fear about starting your business and how have you overcome it?

To be honest, none.

What are you most proud of? – e.g. personal milestones, awards, sales, awareness increase, positive feedback.

I recently took part in VOOM, Virgin Media business pitching competition featuring Sir Richard Branson. It is currently one of the most competitive business competitions. Despite being a start-up, I received a significant amount of votes, which clearly shows people, other than myself believe in the idea and would like to see it come to fruition.

How does your business differ from others? What’s your USP (unique selling point)?

There isn’t any other business at the moment in the UK focusing on this particular segment: Authentic Afro-Caribbean cuisine.

How did you come up with your business name and branding imagery?

The business name came from one of my associates. We wanted to come up with a name, that name would be not ambiguous, and attract Afro-Caribbean cuisine food enthusiasts easily. We’re currently working with renowned designers. Our first designs will be available by October.

How have you promoted or marketed your business?

We’ve promoted the idea via social media, Kingston Nest, Kingston’s Enterprise department and word of mouth.

How did you raise funds for your business/project?

I’m still raising the funds. Going to pitching competitions helped me attract the interest of investors. I’ve also tapped into the networks I’ve built in the last 3 years.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

Our aim is to have at least 15 restaurants open.

How did University support you in developing and growing your business/project?

I took part of the Bright Ideas Competition. Its an annual competition, where entrepreneurs compete by showcasing their ideas and businesses. I managed to be one of the top contestants. Thanks to ‘Bright Ideas’, I’ve been enrolled in workshops, that allowed me to meet incredible entrepreneurs, as well as get my idea refined along the way.

Why do you believe enterprise skills are important? Please give us a brief quote.

“Enterprise skills are key to the broader engagement, and impact skills that employers now look for. In this new era, being great academically is not the only thing. Due to the competitiveness of the market, acquiring enterprise skills put you ahead BY MILES.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlimited Lab LTD- An innovative startup taking upcycling to new heights

Business Name: Unlimited Lab LTD

Founders: Irene Canuti and Josue Vivas

Unlimited-Lab-logoUnlimited Lab creates innovative products that in a playful way encourage customers to reuse, recycle and consume consciously, paying special attention to electronic waste. At the moment we are developing kits of 3D printed gadgets to help people build their own everyday objects and furniture – like a lamp or a desk – up cycling what they otherwise would throw away (plastic bottles, glass jars, battery chargers, electronic devices etc.)

We are determined to unify the physical and the digital in our products to deliver unique user experience for an accessible price. Unlimited Lab is working on the hardware side of the business at the moment, but the middle-term goal is software and the internet of things.

What inspired you to start your own business/project?

Josue-IreneJosue : “All the opportunities that the UK offers to young entrepreneurs definitely inspired my decision of starting a business. Coming from a country where the annual inflation was near 1000% last year, the UK is a paradise to innovate and create value. Then teaming up with Irene made me realise the value of having a team and drawing inspiration from each other’s passion.”

Irene:  “We were both working at The Nest at the Business School on different projects. Josue was developing his first product, a Rowing Simulator, and I helped him out with market research. Unfortunately we found out that it was not going to be competitive in the market, but, on the bright side, we realised to have common interests and business vision. So, we decided to start from zero together. We listed all the resources we had, skills and goals for the future. A broad mind map that we then compared with current trends in the market: 3D printing, sustainability and home ware was our starting point.”

What was your biggest fear about starting your business and how have you overcome it?

Irene: “I guess my first thought was ‘I am not good enough with numbers and finance’. Failure is always scary, but failing when money is involved just terrified me. Starting your own business can be overwhelming but today with Unlimited Lab, even though I am a bit terrified everyday, I know that I have a strong team and a network to support me. Not to mention all the digital tools for project management and bookkeeping that make our life definitely easier!”

Josue: “My biggest fear was to fail the people who gave me trust, which are several, and now that we are a team my responsibilities are bigger. I would say that I didn’t overcome this fear, it has changed in time as I did. But by embracing this fear I can use it as a strength both on a personal and professional level”.

What are you most proud of?

We are proud of what we built in just 3 months: the ideas, the products, our team, the company culture and the network. These are the foundations of a company that will be able to cope with change, focused on people, trends and technology. Looking back, it is difficult to admit you worked in the wrong direction for 8 months, so we are definitely proud we had the courage to pivot and start over. None of this would have happened without that decision.

How does your business differ from others? What’s your USP (unique selling point)?

Lamp-prototype

We ask people to upcycle, not to recycle. This means saving money using what they already have as components, having fun building themselves something unique and beautifully designed. No one in the homeware sector is really addressing sustainability this way, with a focus on e-waste, especially involving customers in the process.

How did you come up with your business name and branding imagery?

We just wanted something with no boundaries. Something playful and able to express us being experimentative and cross-disciplinary. We wanted Unlimited Lab to have its own personality. It will evolve in the future for sure.

How have you promoted or marketed your business?

Our main selling channels are online at the moment and we are building a community of peers and followers that is going to be the real boost for our digital marketing strategy. Apart from Google AdWords, people’s engagement on social media and forums is crucial, but also our physical presence at events, makers and sustainability fairs plays an important role.

How did you raise funds for your business/project?

We had an initial investment of £15K, then we “traded” our skills and build a network that brought us where we are now: with an office in the city and rapid prototyping facilities. Not all investments are monetary; many people gave us trust broadening our possibilities. We are bootstrapping at the moment, launching our first product at the beginning of September to activate some serious cash flow.

Looking back, what would you have done differently with your business/project?

Our startup is so young that it is hard to tell. We should’ve probably started prototyping earlier, from the first brainstorming, without waiting for one “big idea”. Talk less and do more.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

3D-modeling

3D-modeling

A Design Firm with a wide range of physical and digital products, able to make an impact. We would like to expand in different sectors – the Internet of things for example – and develop proprietary technologies based on robotics and 3D printing. Being in the position of supporting the makers and startup communities and get involved in social and educational programmes is also very important for us.

How has/did University support you in developing and growing your business/project?

We had the opportunity to base our business at the KU business incubator “The Nest”, which gave us a space where to work and network with others. Through talks and workshops hosted at the business school we expanded our knowledge on how to run a business, not to mention the Bright Ideas Competition – where we actually met the first time – and the precious exposure we received. Most importantly, Josue was given the possibility of growing this business in the UK thanks to the endorsement Kingston University granted for his Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa.

LEDs

Why do you believe enterprise skills are important? Please give us a brief quote.

Irene : “I think being entrepreneurial is about shaping the future as you pictured it, despite all the obstacles on your way. Resilience is an essential quality in business, but it has also an impact on personal happiness and sense of fulfilment in life.”

Josue: “First of all, enterprise skills increase your employability and make you stand out as a candidate. Building entrepreneurial skills is also important to overcome difficulties managing your own business, let’s remember that being an entrepreneur means being able to deal with uncertainty”.

Unlimited Lab will soon launch its first product and, as part of the company’s human-centred development, is conducting user research and user testing. You can contribute by taking and sharing this survey about lifestyle, making and waste. Click here for survey.

To learn more, follow Unlimited Lab @

Website: www.unlab.co.uk

Email: hello@unlab.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/UnlimitedLab

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/unlimitedlab/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/unlimited-lab-ltd

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KludeOn- a life utility app designed to solve everyday problems.

KludeOnBusiness Name: KludeOn

Founders: Meera Panchal and Akash Singh

KludeOn is a life utility app,  a platform where everyday problems are solved by creating a solution space. There will be many uses to this, for example if you were to have flat tyre, you would take an image or input audio/text  and the system would immediately identify  the problem and tell you either how to solve it using real time information provided by other people or provide information from the web.

What inspired you to start your own business/project?

What has always driven us to work, is being able to create something that could make a positive impact in the world.  The desire stemmed from growing in the  technology era and witnessing how it has shaped our lives and continues to do so. Challenges have also been appealing from a young age for both of us and growing up reading about the smartest people in the world we developed the desire to want to build an environment in which we can be surrounded by them and working with them to create a  new tool for the next generation.

What was your biggest fear about starting your business and how have you overcome it?

Social anxiety – Both of us had social anxiety for different reasons; the fear of being judged as an entrepreneur. You have to put yourself out there and be ready for criticism, as well as public speaking. In only a few months of starting, we have had to pitch and speak to large groups of known and unknown people – practice and preparation have been the best tools to over come social anxiety.

What are you most proud of? – e.g. personal milestones, awards, sales, awareness increase, positive feedback.

The people we have become and the qualities we have developed through all our challenges. To have shared our vision to a post doctorate and have him want to join our team to build our system.

How does your business differ from others? What’s your USP (unique selling point)?

“We’re combining two advance technologies of image recognition and big data for machine learning and look at defects in images to solve everyday problems – it is a new use of two technologies as well as the opposite of the concept ‘search”

How did you come up with your business name and branding imagery?

Kludeon

We read an article on psychology where it stated a name with a K is attractive to the human mind and then Akash had a dream where he came up with the word Klude, we later then added the ‘On’. We also wanted to use a word that doesn’t exist to give it a meaning such as Google.

How have you promoted or marketed your business?

We are currently in early stage marketing, we are creating a YouTube channel where we will be recording our daily activities as entrepreneurs. This will become a platform to promote our company and bring awareness and insight to what a start up is like.

How did you raise funds for your business/project?

DSC08504Currently we’re bootstrapping, however we’re entering lots of competitions where there are non equity cash prizes awarded. We are also applying for an accelerator programme in Silicon Valley called Y-Combinator, where they offer $120k.

Looking back, what would you have done differently with your business/project?

  • Look more vigorously for the tech person.
  • Work at a faster pace.
  • Bottom line- be more resourceful.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

  • Been through a series of funding rounding.
  • Established in  the largest markets in the world e.g. India and China.
  • Serving over 20 million users.
  • Have a great team built.

How has/did University support you in developing and growing your business/project?

We only sought the help of our university recently before then we were working independently with our mentor. It has however, been very helpful since we joined the university entrepreneur team. Especially the weekend away, we got to meet a lot of interesting people and start ups at different stages. Having monthly meetups has also been very beneficial as we now have a deadline to meet before the competition, and this helps us keep track of our deliverables.

Why do you believe enterprise skills are important? Please give us a brief quote.

“As a start up you’re everything, therefore you need to be resourceful in order to accelerate at a pace which is unnaturally fast, if you lack the skills it will be 5 years and nothing would have moved forward from your initial idea”

KludeOn are currently participating in the NACUE Varsity pitch and need your support.

Please click here to cast your votes.

 

 

 

 

 

Enterprise! Spotlight – Grocemania

Enterprise Spotlight: Askar Bulegenov

Thank you for doing this interview with us, please tell us about your business/project:

grocemania 2

Grocemania  is a tech company focused on the logistics,  marketing and delivery of grocery products  to households and offices, within the shortest time possible  We deliver goods to our customers in an average of 36 minutes. We partner with national supermarkets and local markets and shops, offering a wide range of options for our customers.

“Our mission is to save people time and simplify their lives , ultimately overcoming obstacles that stop them from going to the supermarket. Including  family responsibilities, illness, intoxication or just being too busy or lazy to go to the store.

What inspired you to start your own business/project?

One night, after a long working day, gym and football training, I was completely shattered and asked my friend to buy some strawberries and chocolate for me.  He forgot to do so which  made me  so upset and I  thought to myself, “how nice would it be if you could just call someone and they bring you food straight to your flat?” This thought was at the forefront of my mind for 3 days,  until I decided to introduce this idea to my friends. The feedback was very positive which lead to us giving out surveys to people and 82% of people reported they would be willing to use such service.

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What was your biggest fear about starting your business and how have you overcome it?

For any entrepreneur, one of the biggest fears and concerns about the business is people’s faith. Starting your own business, demands a lot of energy and emotions, so being supported is highly desirable. It is very important to feel that people believe in your idea and find it attractive, otherwise it is easy to get demotivated. However, talking to everyone and explaining the nature of the business, with all its’ advantages and benefits, helped us gain  trust and acceptance leading to a customer base.

What are you most proud of? – e.g. personal milestones, awards, sales, awareness increase, positive feedback.

There is one thing I am really proud of, according to David Buttress (CEO and Founder of JustEat UK) at ‘Startup Grind Talk’ after two months of operating he and his partner only generated £33 pounds of Net Revenue, while Grocemania has generated approximately £1000. This further demonstrates the demand for this type of service in the market.

How does your business differ from others? What’s your USP (unique selling point)?

grocemania 3First of all, as there is an absence of a logistic service in grocery market in the UK, it gives us first mover advantage, filling in the gap. Providing customers with almost “instant” delivery within an hour, we charge the lowest delivery fees and also we have the  lowest ‘minimum shopping cart’ value of only £10. Furthermore, due to partnering with the physical stores, we are able to better control freshness and quality of the delivered products. In addition our cargo-bicycles enable us to perform even very heavy orders. Finally our service allows customers to discover local and specialised shops, as well as make orders from big high street retailers.

How did you come up with your business name and branding imagery?

Once the Idea came to my mind, the name just came along with it. Our branding and imagery was designed by a friend of mine, Aizhan. She was the perfect choice as she understood exactly what we wanted to achieve and delivered! She still supports us to this day.

How have you promoted or marketed your business?

We have strong marketing campaigns in digital and media sources, such as Google, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook; along with commercial advertisements. Moreover, we leave our flyers and stickers in partner stores in order to introduce our service to existing customers. We have also been running a marketing campaign with Mumsnet Local to attract busy parents.

Additionally, we aim to keep all deliveries and brand image environmentally friendly.

How did you raise funds for your business/project?

In order to help our business  expand and raise some funds, our company has taken part in several competitions and elevator programmes. We have also attended a few networking events where we managed to make some very useful contacts, in terms of funding. Additionally, our marketing campaigns increased our sales, ultimately increasing our revenue.

Looking back, what would you have done differently with your business/project?

Passing through different stages of development of our business and gaining more experience in the e-commerce industry, the first thing I would definitely change is the software. Our website is operating on the Shopify platform. Even though this software engine is created specifically for online retailers, it is missing a lot of features that are essential for the type of  business we have, such as order tracking and splitting the payments between us and our partners. With the knowledge I have now, I would have set up the website on the Magento platform.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

grocemania 4In a 5 years time, I see Grocemania as an International company. We are planning to issue franchises, so we could enter the foreign markets as quickly as possible. Certainly, after 5 years we will have our own software with all the IP rights belonging to us. One more aspect of a perfect scenario would involve millions in turnover and global awareness of Grocemainia.

 

How did Kingston University support you in developing and growing your business/project?

Kingston University supported us in several ways. Firstly, all the fairs and events that were running especially for the Business School, provided us with a couple of useful contacts. Along with this, the university regularly holds different competitions which we can participate in and improve our skills.

“Entrepreneurship skills include identifying an unexploited opportunity and making the most of it. People with entrepreneurial skills are the benefit to any company because they will be able to fill the gaps in the market and innovate. Likewise, good entrepreneurs posses good decision-making skills, planning skills, and executing skills, which are obviously vital for the company’s performance”- Askar Bulegenov

 

 

 

‘KU Entrepreneurs’ take part in the National Apprentice Challenge 2016

National Apprentice Challenge – Kingston Entrepreneurs

1522760_554221868079676_2145863101562162070_oA team of Kingston students participated in the National Apprentice Challenge 2016, competing against 80 students from 11 other universities across the UK. The intense two-day competition encouraged teams to work together, applying their knowledge, strengths and weaknesses to complete the proposed tasks and achieve the best results.

The first task had Manasi, Karan, Shinny and Shivari running a virtual mid-sized airline business for 7 months, using award-winning online simulation software. The aim of the task was for each virtual business to make as much net profit as possible, with points awarded dependent on the amount of profit made. This task consisted of five rounds in which ‘KU Entrepreneurs’ were ranked 4th place in several of them.

The second stage of the competition had team ‘KU Entrepreneurs’ conceptualising and pitching their innovative ideas for The Next Social Media Platform. Our students had only 3 minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of serial entrepreneurs and judges. Karan Chafekar, MBA student said,  ” This round gave us experience pitching an idea in a limited time frame, to a panel of potential investors, which will be helpful in the future”.

Group photo

Manasi Jade, MA Design student said, “We had a really good time and it was a fantastic experience!”, followed by Karan Chafekar, MBA student, saying “we would like to thank Kingston University for giving us this opportunity and sponsoring us to take part in NAC 2016”.