EVENT: Start-up Stories
LOCATION: Devonshire House 60, Goswell Road, London
DATE: April 3, 2012
EVENT HASHTAG: #GradClub
ORGANISER: GradPreneur Club
On the evening of April 3, ‘Start-up Stories’, the first in a series of networking events hosted by the GradPreneur Club got underway at Devonshire House. The events are the brainchild of the GradPreneur Club’s founder, Raspinder Singh and have been designed to inspire and inform enterprising undergraduates/graduates through the experience and achievements of successful, young entrepreneurs.
The event, which was sponsored by Kingston Smith, began with an opportunity to network before Singh invited attendees to take their seats.
The three speakers were joined on stage by Chris Lane of Kingston Smith and Singh, who began by introducing the event and explaining that it would aim to help bridge the gap between university and entrepreneurship.
After thanking the speakers, attendees and sponsors; Singh identified that large youth unemployment figures could only be improved by: “Entrepreneurial ventures, resulting in successful start-ups that create jobs”. He went onto say that he hoped the series of start-up events would provide a platform for collaboration as well as for the sharing of resources, reiterating that: “resourcefulness is the most important characteristic an entrepreneur must possess.”
Speaker: Jack Tang - thestudentjob.com
The first speaker was Jack Tang, a business student currently studying at Kings College, University of London and the founder of thestudentjob.com. The site is a social media portal uniting students with locally sourced flexible and part-time jobs as well as employers with local candidates.
thestudentjob.com is Tang’s third start-up and he identified that market research was the key to establishing whether an initial idea could be turned into a commercially successful business.
Speaker: Jason Gibbs – comparetheuni.com
Jason Gibbs is a law student and founder of comparetheuni.com, a comparison site for prospective students that aims to provide its visitors with the tools they need in order to make an informed decision about which course to choose, and university to attend.
Gibbs began by announcing that his chief advice to budding entrepreneurs would be: “Don’t be afraid to ask”. Advice that could be applied to a whole host of areas including for example, asking for potential investment from say angel investors or even media coverage. He went onto highlight that: “Good media exposure, particularly during your first year is crucial to help boost your brand”.
Speaker: Keith Chaplin - Mabbutt - CVseeMe.co.uk
Keith Chaplin-Mabbutt launched his first business shortly after graduating from university in 2000, going onto found online graduate recruitment company, CVseeMe.co.uk in 2009.
Chaplin-Mabbutt began his presentation by discussing the importance of start-ups establishing a need for their product and ultimately carving out a niche for themselves in the market place. He provided the example of the way that CVseeMe.co.uk was one of the first to adopt the concept of video profiles.
He progressed more specifically onto the subject of recruitment for SMEs, explaining its importance by highlighting that SMEs account for: “A huge proportion of the UK market, with each member taking up a large percentage of every business team.”
Turning your idea into a business
The speaker’s presentations were followed by a short Q&A session with Singh asking the speakers for their advice regarding how to turn an initial idea in to a commercially viable business. Tang suggested that it was important to use people around you as a ‘sounding board’ for ideas, while Gibbs warned of the importance of getting an Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) signed before discussing any ideas you may have with potential investors. Chaplin-Mabbutt identified the need to understand what your competitors are doing and make sure you do it better also underlining that you will need to be prepared to work 24/7.
Founder of StudentBeans.com, James Eder offered the next question asking the speakers what their biggest mistakes so far have been. Chaplin-Mabbutt provided an example of when he was just starting out where more effective data capture would have been useful to him. Gibbs, noted the difficulties of starting out completely on your own, emphasising the importance of having a strong team around you. Meanwhile, Tang identified the need for forward-planning and preparing for the changes your business may experience as it grows.
The session was brought to close by Gary Lennon of Unipreneur Challenge who outlined that schemes such as this are helping to place students in action-based learning’ roles within businesses that allow them to work on ‘real’ ideas and add ‘real’ value.
Later in the evening a prize draw was carried out to win 3 months of entrepreneur coaching sessions with AC PowerCoaching with a value of £700. The winner was Christian Jakenfields, co-founder of studentupstarts.com as well as a student at Imperial College London.