Tag Archives: Entrepreneurship

Bright Futures with SquidLondon

Last week we were thrilled to launch our first ever Bright Futures for Freelancers! We invited creative students from across the university to take part in a day full of workshops and talks designed to develop their skills for self-employment.

After a networking session with Dwain Ried, Will Holmes from Equity joined us to share his insights on freelancing from within a union. Later, Jack from Phundee shared his journey towards creating a successful crowd funding platform. BF

During the afternoon, SquidLondon took over the workshop, working with our groups of students to create, develop and plan their ideas. The aim was to give the students an idea of the entrepreneurship process, so that they could then have more confidence in pursing their ideas in the future. Working throughout the afternoon, our students came up with four inspiring business ideas, which were:

  • Clean Bean –  collaborating with Local coffee shops, reusing Coffee Grounds for skin care
  • The Flattables – flat pack lunch box range, can be easily stored and packed away after lunch
  • P-Free Plastics – a new trademark stamp for chemical free packaging
  • ForgetMeNot (FMN) – a find my belongings device (app and electronic sensor)

BF2 All of our students’ ideas were innovative and resourceful, and we thought we’d better put them to the test! We hosted an intense pitch-off, during which an elected member of each group was asked to present to the room. Questions (of which there were many) were fired, a la Dragon’s Den, and when the votes were counted, ForgetMeNot were crowned the overall winners – congrats! BF4

Huge thanks to Viviane from SquidLondon who gave some great advice, as well as Jack from Phundee and Will from Equity. If you want to take part in the next Bright Futures event, you can sign up here!

Bright Ideas Final – Highlights of 2015

After months of preparation and weeks of judging, we finally saw the culmination of this year’s Bright Ideas competition at last week’s celebration event! 

We received a record number of competition entries this year, accumulating to 360 entries from 478 students! Prior to the final ceremony, entries were assessed by our voluntary judges, and a short-list was finalised at Trigger Weekend, where students were able to present their ideas to a panel of illustrious alumni. At the beginning of the day, students took part in an animated pitching workshop, where they were able to polish their pitches in case they were called to present in front of the audience. Nerves? There were a few!

Following the pitching workshop, entrants joined the guests and judges in the De Lissa hall for our awards ceremony – aside from a slight lack of balloons and a few hiccups with our slides, the event went swimmingly! Guest speaker, Jonathan Newman, founder of Chi, kicked off the evening with an inspiring talk about making your ideas a reality – in addition to some useful ‘top ten’ lists (which will be featured in future posts) Jonathan stressed the importance of visualisation in achieving success. Ask the universe for success and it will deliver! Jonathan Newman

 

Following Jonathan’s pep-talk we were excited to witness the prize giving – featuring handshakes, photography and two giant cheques! The lucky winners of our £250 prizes were Kester Olarewaju, Katie Cudmore, Josue Vivas Hernandez, Guilherme Beirao, Joshua Brown, and Michael Kerin. And the £1000 winners were Trevor Kerth, DuA Alsaadi, and two group entries, ‘Detour’ – Samriddhi Chakraborty, Irene Canuti, Felix Dornseifer, Min-Hsuan Liang, Olga Spasskaya and Sabbir Khan and ‘BeeBra’ – Laura Jones, Marie Holmerud, India Higson, Anastasia Olshanskaya, and Emilio Hernández Martínez. Congratulations to all! Profiles of the winners will be posted on BizBoard during the week, so keep your eyes peeled for insights into the winning ideas!Peoples Choice Vote

 

But it didn’t end there! We then embarked upon a technologically dubious mission to introduce our people’s choice. Each of our guests were given a clicker upon entering the De Lissa, and were asked to use the very clever little device to vote for their favourite finalist! Thanks to his confident and animated pitch, TrevoFr Kerth was chosen as the people’s choice with his idea for a portable keyboard that folds in-half – we look forward to seeing your next line of portable drums, Trevor!

Following the ceremony we all skipped over to the business school atrium for a networking reception with plenty of food and wine for all! There was even an impromptu rendition of ‘Let It Go’ to enjoy! Overall, the judges were delighted with the quality and the range of the entries, and they all spoke highly of the importance of this kind of competition for building leadership and employability skills.

If you missed out this year, don’t fret! We’ll be opening applications for 2016’s competition in September, so get working on that Bright Idea!

Entrepreneurship Competitions – March 2014

Still itching to get your ideas into action? Here are March’s best UK competitions. We hope to see some KU students collecting awards and prize money this year! 

National Apprentice Challenge – Deadline 4th March 2015

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The National Apprentice Challenge is the largest residential competition for creative and ambitious students in the UK. In teams of four, students with a wide-range of backgrounds will go through a residential programme filled with exciting practical challenges. The reality-based tasks will test their creativity & their entrepreneurial mindset and help the participants be more aware of their strengths and better prepared for their future careers. 

The teams with the highest scores will automatically enter The Grand Final and go on an all-expenses-paid trip abroad, where they will experience next-level practical challenges. The winners will return with a National Title, cash and potential investment.

You are fine to take part without any business experience or business idea as long as you are committed and have a Go-For-It attitude.  All the action takes place in teams of four, so put together your team and let’s get started!  

For more information visit the competition website. Make sure to check in with us at BizBoard for any updates about the competition! Good luck!

Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards – Deadline 20th March 2015

The Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards is an annual business pitching competition that rewards student and graduate entrepreneurs by offering cash prizes – this year there’s a huge £44,000 to offer! 

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During our Bright Ideas competition and Celebrate Enterprise Awards we’ll be on the look out for some great ideas that could be taken further into the world of entrepreneurship! We’ll put forward our top undergraduate and postgraduate businesses for official entry into the competition. These applications will then be judged by Santander Business Banking and Corporate Banking teams. Finalists will be asked to pitch to a panel of judges at Santander’s Head Offices.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, do let us know, as we’ll review your application and business plan before putting it forward to Santander! 

 

Entrepreneurship Competitions – December 2014

If our Bright Ideas competition has given you the boost you needed to get stuck into entrepreneurship with some winning concepts, why not check out some of the competitions and programmes outside of KU? There are heaps of opportunities cropping up at the moment, and we’ve complied a few of them here.  We’d love to see our KU students representing Enterprise! across the UK! 

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StudentshIP Enterprise Awards 2014 – Deadline 12th December

The Intellectual Property Office is launching a new competition to give students the opportunity to fund their ideas, offering individual prizes from £10,000 to £100,000.

Enterprising university students will bid for £750,000, in a new competition designed to encourage the practical use of intellectual property (IP) in their business ideas.

Launched on 15 October 2014, the StudentshIP Enterprise Awards will provide funding, ranging from £10,000 up to £100,000, for university projects that bring enterprising students, businesses, and their local community together to work on innovative projects. In-house projects or collaborations with other universities or businesses that create, manage or exploit intellectual property will all be considered.

Award winners will increase their understanding of the value and use of intellectual property, so the next generation of graduates are better equipped to enter the world of modern business and make the most of their unique ideas. The competition will run until 12 December 2014, with fnalists announced in January and the winners in March 2015. To learn more, click here.

USW Making Business Happen Awards – Deadline 12th December

The University of South Wales is encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs from across the UK to show how they’re ‘making business happen’ and be in with a chance of winning a support package worth up to £12,500 to invest in their business or business idea.

The Making Business Happen Awards are organised by the University of South Wales as part of its tradition of encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial talent. Awards are open to start-up businesses as well as more established SME operations. A separate Aspiring Entrepreneurs Award will also recognise students from schools and colleges across the UK who can demonstrate their commitment to researching and developing an effective or innovative business idea.

Shortlists for the four award categories will be drawn up early next year, with the winners announced at a celebration event on April 16th 2015, to be held in Cardiff. To find out more, view the official launch video and to enter, visit www.uswbusinessawards.co.uk. Entries close on December 12 2014.

Deliotte Micro-Tyco Student Challenge – Deadline 31st December

The challenge is designed to identify entrepreneurial success and stimulate self-reliance and enterprise. Micro-Tyco inspires the spirit of enterprise in its purest form and rewards participants with the knowledge that in business, if they can succeed at Micro-Tyco, they can succeed at anything.

Applicants are asked to enter as part of a team of up to five people. Once the teams have been selected, they will then get to work turning a micro-loan of £1 into as much money as possible! Previous graduate teams have generated up to £75,000!

The money created from Micro-Tyco will then be invested by WildHearts in micro-loans to help the world’s poorest people work their own way out of poverty with dignity and self-respect. As a result participants will go from becoming dynamic wealth creators to global ethical investors.

To find out more download the Micro-Tyco Guidelines. Deadline for applications is 31st December.

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