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Entrepreneurship & Start Ups

Are you interested in starting up a company or joining one when you leave university?  There is no better time to start than whilst at university. Here are 5 good reasons:

  • It significantly increases your chances of getting a job – it demonstrates motivation, independence and a desire to succeed.
  • There is never a better time to fail as you have nothing to loose – no salary to give up, no mortgage payments, no dependents. And you have time on your hands.
  • You have amazing access to resources – resources, programmes and activities available that will support you. See links below.
  • Earn some money – more enjoyable than bar work
  • Gain experience  - its also hugely rewarding and will build your confidence and your skills.

Santander runs the Universities Entrepreneurship Awards  - an annual business pitching competition. The competition rewards student and graduate entrepreneurs by offering cash prizes.

The majority of universities offer some sort of enterprise support unit or innovation centre, which provides a range of services to support students with start up business ideas. These could include; resources, funding, workspace, networks, mentors and workshops. In addition, most universities have their own enterprise societies where you can come together with like-minded individuals.

Catalyst Founders are also offering up to £50,000 investment to help you start a business. You just need a well defined idea. They are interested in nurturing youg talent, providing mentorship as well as investment. They don't expect you to stop studying. You need to be 23 or younger. 

Here are examples of the top 26 universities enterprise units:

 

Consider joining a start up from university?

The world is changing fast, particularly with the rise of digital technology.  We are seeing increasing disintermediation of traditional businesses from start up companies who are squeezing the supply chain and challenging traditional business models. They are drawing in talent as they are buzzy, less bureaucratic and hierarchical, prepared to experiment and empower their people. They are a massive disruptive influence on the marketplace and we are potentially entering a very new era. They are exciting places to be - so ensure you consider them as a viable option. You will learn a lot and witness valuable ‘start up’ qualities such as agility, innovation, collaboration, risk, creativity, adaptation and experimentation.

The down side of small companies is that they are strongly managed and led by their founder. This can be positive or negative depending on their approach and style. They usually dominate.

Organisations providing more information

There are also a number of organisations that provide support for student start up’s or facilitate employment with a start up, once you graduate. Take a look.

  • Start-up Britain, is a non-profit national campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. It provides useful resources such as mentoring and events.
  • The National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education runs various education programmes and activities to help students and graduates start their businesses.
  • Make it Happen offers a mentoring programme for student and graduate entrepreneurs as well as other support for students.
  • Y Combinator, a US-based community of 1600 founders who fund start ups.  Twice a year they invest a small amount on money in c85 start-ups. The startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months.
  • Shell LiveWire offers a fantastic free online business advice, tools and funding for young entrepreneurs in the UK. Free access to their business library. Register for free guides to writing a business plan and how to carry out market research. You’ll also be able to see ‘elevator pitch’ videos from businesses that have been shortlisted for awards.
  • National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs (NACUE)  brings together university entrepreneurship societies.  They run a series on enterprise programmes and workshops. They also run Small Companies BIG Jobs  which connects students and graduates with the startups and SMEs looking to hire.
  • Entrepreneur First offers an intensive programme of support and training for running your own technology business. They take the best technical talent ( mainly computer science or engineering grads) from across Europe– you do not need an idea or a team.
  • The Community Development Finance Association provides a handy list of organisations providing funding across the UK , whilst the National Enterprise Network website shows all the Local Enterprise Agencies that can help you raise funding or at least point you in the right direction.
  • Princes Trust – run an Enterprise programme which supports you starting your won business. 
  • Digital Business Academy: provide 8 free courses on how to start, run or join a digital business. Delivered by UCL,Cambridge Judge Business School and Founder Centric.
  • Virgin Media Pioneers: Practical help and advice. And contacts to develop your idea 
  • Dreamstake – helps get you started providing resource, funding and advice.
  • Google entrepreneurs. They bring together start ups communities providing financial support and space
  • Techfaster – start up tools.
  • Enternships. More start up resources
  • Silicon Milkroundabout, If you are interested in joining a start up – this fair brings them together in one place, offering a range of positions from product, marketing & design to engineering
  • The New Entrepreneurs Foundation recruits 30-40 young people a year and supports them through a twelve-month programme that includes a paid work placement in an innovative company, mentoring, and learning through workshops provided by business schools and corporate sponsors such as Deloitte, McKinsey, Virgin  and Tesco. It’s very much like a practical MBA.
  • Escape The City.  A web site offering non corporate opportunities.
  • Work in start ups web site providing employment opportunities.

 

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