Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Bright Ideas Winners 2015

As you may have read in our earlier post, this year’s Bright Ideas competition was a roaring success, and our judges had a hard time choosing winners! After battling it out for a prize throughout the day, our finalists were thrilled to have been rewarded for their hard work, and are excited to start bringing their ideas to life! Here are some of our winners’ stories:

Trevor Kerth – HalfNote

Trevor Kerth accepting his prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Trevor Kerth accepting his prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Having embarked upon an MSc in Advanced Product Design Engineering, Trevor Kerth put his expertise to good use when he created Half Note, an ingenious foldable keyboard that allows for easy and convenient transportation. Trevor was keen to ensure that his idea really did solve a problem, and the judges were impressed! Not only did Trevor win £1000 to develop his idea, but he was also voted the people’s choice by the live audience at the Bright Ideas Final.

Trevor explains: ‘As a keyboardist and pianist myself, my idea for a more travel-friendly keyboard came from my own frustration. Half Note is unique in that it folds in half to become its own protective case and includes a battery, speakers and a collapsible stand to give keyboardists the ability to travel and play anywhere. With the £1000, I plan on prototyping the first version of the Half Note and finding keyboardists to test and review the idea. The Bright Ideas competition has been able to supply the initial funding but more importantly, has given me the motivation and conviction to pursue my idea.’ Follow HalfNote on Twitter for updates on its progress!

Du’a AlSaadi – NGO Establishment in North Sudan

Du'a AlSaadi accepting her prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Du’a AlSaadi accepting her prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh

Du’a W AlSaadi, currently studying for an MBA at Kingston University, was awarded £1000 at Bright Ideas for her passionate desire to help less privileged communities. Inspired by her own experiences, Du’a plans to launch an NGO establishment in North Sudan that will support and empower young girls to fulfil their aspirations.

We caught up with Du’a to hear her intentions: ‘Through the launch of a partnership between schools in North Sudan and Amman-Jordan, the project will enable young girls from both regions to connect using technological tools such as video conferencing. Bright ideas and the prize money will help in promoting workshops to raise awareness of the issue and will be allocating to a market and initial investment budget which is 10 computers, video conference materials, stationary renting halls, etc.’

As Du’a explains, she plans to create a partnership between girls from North Sudan and Jordan, which will allow for the creation of a female focused network of support and encouragement. The end goal is to ‘transform mind-sets within the culture about female empowerment by using basic technology to create a platform of dialogue between girls in both Jordan and Sudan.’

£250 Winners

Joshua Brown – Drain Power Generator

Joshua Brown accepting his prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Joshua Brown accepting his prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Currently studying for an MSc in Aerospace Engineering, Joshua Brown was awarded £250 for his ecological invention, a drain power generator that harnesses energy from wasted water. Joshua’s idea taps into current concerns about the sustainability and environmental impact of products, ingeniously using wasted elements to generate new power.

We asked Joshua about the motivation for his idea: ‘My idea came from a genuine interest in hydroelectric power and ‘green’ energy. After studying power generation, energy capture and storage methods, I was reminded of my experiences of tinkering with plumbing components; I put two and two together and realised that I could combine the two ideas to create an ecological household product that is unique to the market.’

Michael Kerin – Short Stories App

Michael Kerin accepting his prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Michael Kerin accepting his prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

As the only finalist from the faculty of arts and social sciences, Michael Kerin, who is currently studying for an MA in Publishing, wowed the judges with his app of short-stories that are written by, read by, and voted on by the public.

Like most of our finalists, Michael’s idea is still in development, although his currently has two potential product names: ‘I wanted writers to post 1500 words a week, so that’s where ‘busbytes’ came from; small amounts of text that you could read on the bus. An alternative would be ‘Bear with me Books’ as I would like to impress on the reader a feeling of being invested in a writer, which would encourage the writer to continue and achieve a possible publishing dream.’

For now, Michael’s main commitment is his MA, and he’s not in any hurry to plan out the future; ‘I tend to say yes to opportunities, so I’m always excited and surprised to see where I end up next.’ However, he intends to slowly begin investigating his app’s immediate competition and the possibility of developing the app independently, which will take care of some of his prize money. As for the left-over cash, he plans to treat himself to ‘a lovely bottle of wine, or three!’

Katie Cudmore – SofaRef

Katie Cudmore accepting her prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Katie Cudmore accepting her prize from Deputy Vice-Chancellor, David MacKintosh.

Katie Cudmore, student of pharmacology and our only solo female finalist, drew upon her own experiences watching frustrated football fans shouting at the television to create SofaRef, an app that allows at-home viewers to vote on the fairness of referees’ decisions.

We asked Katie to share her thoughts with us: ‘My idea is an app where people can judge the decision made by the referee during a football match in order to generate statistics and see whether the ref made the right decision based on mass population opinion. My inspiration came from watching family members shout at the television so I came up with an idea that is not currently on the market. The prize money will go towards the money I am using to develop the idea further through connections with the right people. In 5 years time I hope to have the app developed and have it fully up and running. Bright ideas encouraged me to move forward and develop my idea, without bright ideas my idea would remain an idea. Because of the competition I am looking forward to move forward with it and following it through.’

Congratulations to all of our brilliant winners! We can’t wait to see how far you go with your ideas, and we look forward to raving about your success throughout the year! If you want to read about another of our winners’ stories, check out our spotlight on BeeBra, one of the £1000 ideas.

Yoganathan Ratheesan:  “Be ambitious because it’s free”

Enterprise! Programme

Kingston University’s Business School hosted the first of several upcoming Insight sessions on Wednesday, 23 October themed “Starting a business with little or no money” – organized by the Enterprise! Programme.

The event welcomed guest speaker Yoganathan Ratheesan, Co-founder, co-owner of the Lebara Group, also a Kingston University graduate to speak about his experience with starting a business.

In advance of the evening’s session, Martha Mador, head of Enterprise Education at the University met with Alumnus and Co-founder Yoganthan Ratheesan and several entrepreneurial students of Enterprise Up to discuss how they benefitted from the financial donations by the Lebara Group. These students included Hend Krichen, founder of Hend Krichen Co. – a luxury retail and home-ware accessories company inspired by traditional Tunisian craftsmanship. Also in attendance was Tom Harrington, founder of Wesold.couk, an online real estate agency that was recently featured in Dragon’s Den in August 2014. Both students shared in the opportunity to discuss their enterprising situations relative to funding, manufacturing, negotiations and personal motivations.

Following the meeting with entrepreneurial students, several were invited to visit the Lebara headquarters in the coming months, and potentially receive mentorship on an individual basis.

Enterprise Insight’s

Dennis Aguma, President of the Entrepreneurship society was on hand to give insight about the society and how it has benefited from the Lebara sponsorship.

With registration surpassing demand, approximately one hundred plus guests were in attendance at the event.

In his advice, Ratheesan shared that as entrepreneurs, it is “important to put yourself into something you believe in” and “listen to your gut”. He also emphasised the importance of networking and making connections with people long term, a lesson learned through his experiences with introducing Lebara into several markets.

Law student Cindy Ledger noted that the event was “inspirational”, taking away valuable advice on “setting deadlines and targets” for success.

 

Enterprise! Spotlight: UK Corporate Gifts

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Benjamin Apeagyei, Entrepreneur

Education: MA International Business Management, Kingston University

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Agata Adamiak, Entrepreneur

Education: MSc IT for Supply Chain Management, Kingston University  

Enterprise! Spotlight features Ben Apeagyei and Agata Adamiak, co-founders of UK Corporate Gifts, a booming new business which provides corporate merchandise to businesses, schools, charities and local authorities.

 

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UK Corporate Gifts Press Image

Synopsis

Ben and Agata pride themselves on great customer service and brilliant value, and their focus seems to be paying off as their business is in full swing, and is attracting an abundance of customers, including Kingston University!

Ben and Agata both studied for their Masters Degrees at Kingston University and believe that their time as KU students helped them to broaden their horizons, and eventually gave them the confidence to venture into business. We caught up with the busy co-founders to talk about their experiences in business so far!

Ben and Agata, thanks for sharing your story with us! For starters, please tell us a little about your business.

UK Corporate Gifts are a supplier of branded corporate gifts and promotional items to businesses, schools, charities and local authorities. Our website has over 6,000 products ranging from: pens, mugs, t-shirts and bags – through to USB flash drives and headphones.

Because we provide printing services, we also offer marketing and branding consultation to our clients to help them make the decision on the item that’s right for them and to help get their logo and artwork print ready. Above all, we strive to provide great value and great customer service to our clients.

‘Doing our Masters degrees at Kingston University opened our eyes to different types of businesses and to the techniques we need to make a business successful.’

What inspired your business collaboration?

We both always wanted to work for ourselves and when we graduated from Kingston University we decided to give it a go. Ben has skills in sales, relationship building and marketing. Agata has talent for IT and systems and strategy development. We decided that an online business with business to business services will be perfect for us both as it needs top customer service and a quality system to back it; this is how UK Corporate Gifts was born. Because a big part of our work is automated, we were able to carry forward our savings to our clients; this put us in a unique position against competitors as we were able to provide great service with better value.

In your opintion, what is the biggest challenge faced by businesses today?

Our biggest challenge is the constantly changing world of online marketing. You need to continuously be on the look-out for the latest trends, rules, and regulations as to what the search engines want and what will work best for the business. It has been a learning curve but now we have a successful blog and we’ve built quality relationships on Twitter, that are helping UK Corporate Gifts grow.

What aspect of your business do you take most pride in?

The proudest moments are when we see our clients coming back to us. We are enormously commited to satisfying our customers, and rely heavily on the business generated by returning customers, who make up our biggest market. We strive to maintain their loyalty through our personal service, which we provide together with good value products. We build a lasting rapport with our clients and love to hear back from them and help them with their creative campaigns. A successful campaign always gives us a boost.

‘Enterprise skills are important because they are necessary for every aspect of your life – you simply have to adapt and scale them.’

Is there a market for your business?

The value of the promotional merchandise market in the UK is £840m (source: Sourcing City). With just under 2,000 players in the UK, it is a very competitive scene, but still, doing most of the business online is a new way of working for the industry.

With the growth of ecommerce in the last several years, clients are getting used to conducting business on the Internet. They appreciate browsing the product range online and making more informed choices. If they need extra support, however, there’s still a promotional products consultant on the other end of the phone to help them at UK Corporate Gifts. We also meet our clients face-to-face if we’re working on bigger projects. Essentially, we provide the best of both worlds, combining the traditional with the modern, which appeals to our clients.

How have you promoted your business?

Because we are an online business, we utilise the online-based forms of marketing. We use social media, our blog and a newsletter to stay connected with our clients and to attract new ones. Above all, we follow our motto of providing great value and service through sharing useful content with business professionals, who appreciate our tips and insight into the advertising and marketing world. We also run weekly special offers on selected products that we promote in the newsletter and on various social media platforms.

How did you raise funds for your business?

We started the business from nothing! Because of the online set up, we didn’t need to invest a lot of money in the business. The main investments were our time and skills as we try to do most of the work ourselves; we built our website and order processing systems ourselves, we used free forms of marketing, and we started the business from home.

Before our first few sales we had to live off our savings and then our efforts slowly started paying off. We have grown organically since and we only spend and invest within our budget.

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UK Corporate Gifts Press Image

Looking back, what would you have done differently during the development of your business?

There was a moment when we wanted to get into events support as a means of branching off to further our offering. We spent several months doing that and lost a fair amount of money. It didn’t work out, and we have since learnt that we need to stick with the core of our business and stay focused. We are a better business now as we have learnt from our mistakes.

Where do you want to be in five year’s time?

We want to increase our client portfolio and constantly improve our systems to support clients even better. Innovation and growth are key for the future of UK Corporate Gifts. We want to be what we are today but on a bigger scale.

How did Kingston University support you in developing your business?

Doing our Masters degrees at Kingston University opened our eyes to different types of businesses and to the techniques we need to make a business successful. We are still in touch with several lecturers who give us the benefit of their knowledge from time to time. Also, the regular “Strategy into Practice” presentations were an inspiration.

We are happy and proud UK Corporate Gifts produced corporate gifts for Kingston University and hope we will be able to do even more branded merchandise for the organisation in the future!

‘We are a better business now as we have learnt from our mistakes.’

Why do you believe enterprise skills are important?

Enterprise skills are important because they are necessary for every aspect of your life – from negotiating on the school playground to planning and executing large government projects. The skills are the same, you simply have to adapt and scale them.

To learn more, follow UK Corporate Gifts @

Website: http://www.ukcorporategifts.co.uk/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/uk-corporate-gifts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UKCorporateGifts
G+: https://plus.google.com/+UKCorporateGiftsCoUk1/posts