Event: The InnoTech Summit

Jennifer Arcuri is founder of The InnoTech Summit and MBA student at Hult International Business School.

The InnoTech Summit is an event launched to bring entrepreneurs and investors together, stimulating growth in the technology sector and promoting small enterprise in the UK, taking place at The Grand Connaught Rooms Hotel on 13th April. Follow news about the event on Twitter.

The event includes a pitching competition for entrepreneurs because it’s a difficult time for startups. How is this the case?

Startups are facing major challenges in today’s market, especially graduates at the onset of their careers. Our goal is to build a platform for entrepreneurs to develop, fund and build their company through the use of disruptive technologies. This competition follows in the spirit of the event by giving these entrepreneurs the stage to pitch their ideas directly to people who can help bring them to life, but also by providing mentors to nurture small business and, in turn, innovate the future of hi-tech.

What makes an idea for a startup a good candidate for investment?

The startup needs to answer a particular need. Whatever service or product, it needs to be commercially viable. Investors look for return on investment and more particularly high returns, so just sales at the break-even level will not attract investors.

Another point: building a network is everything. As we have carefully observed from our recent interactions with investors, the bottom line on the investment comes down to the entrepreneurs themselves. The beginning stages of development and growth for a company undergo too many “changes” to really rely on a startup’s business plan from the beginning; the investor undoubtedly invests in the entrepreneur first and foremost when making the decision about funding.

What other advice would you give to start ups looking for that initial injection of funding?

After talking to many different investors in the City, it really does come down to the following:

- What makes you “investable?”

- Who is your audience? (and why do you think they’ll listen?)

- What is your story? (and how are you going to tell it?)

- Always, always, always know your audience. Do your research. It’s amazing how effective a little intellect and human charm can be.

I come from a film background, so everything comes back to the “story” to me. You may have the best numbers in the world on paper, but if you are incapable of selling the “sizzle” – being excited about your product – how can you expect anyone else to be?

Aside from the competition, what other advantages can young entrepreneurs get from attending the InnoTech Summit?

Entrepreneurs will have the ability to network with venture capitalists, investors, and other professionals in an environment where everyone is accessible to each other. In addition, we have a lot of great organizations attending (Start up Britain, Innovation Warehouse, NACUE, etc) within London who are specifically designed to cater to the needs of entrepreneurs. Our recent updates to the speaker slate are another great reason to attend the InnoTech Summit. Entrepreneurs will meet other digital companies on crowd sourcing, mobile platforms, video content, brand building, etc, as we have lined up an exciting slate of Digital Entrepreneurial Keynotes. In addition, our panels will add another interesting dynamic, some of the pressing discussions within the startup community: could London become the next start-up capital of the world? Is capital the missing ingredient?

Finally, do you think this is generation startup? More and more young people are setting up their own businesses, do you think this constitutes a community of entrepreneurs that in some ways defines the generation?

The “Generation Start Up” trend is a direct response to the opportunities that are created from the amazing, powerful distribution platform of the world wide web. This has unleashed incredible capabilities of people’s creative thinking and virtual intellect. Our panel discussion on London becoming the next startup capital will explore this issue more. However, I do believe this is the same “me” generation that has cracked the music and film industry in the changing of their distribution platforms. This is the same “Facebook” information-aged generation that will continue to shape, innovate, and continuously redefine the future of enterprise and the way we do business.

Twitter Robot – Nurph said

Neil Cauldwell, 28, is the founder and director of Nurph.com, the real-time communication service that gives you a home for your Twitter followers and turns your Twitter account into a knowledge-learning assistant that you can teach to answer your follower’s @replies automatically. Follow Nurph on Twitter

When did you start your business and where did the idea come

I was bitten by the web entrepreneurship bug in summer 2007 and have been working on the opportunity since then. The company was incorporated in 2009. The Nurph product has evolved over time, but the goal has always been a better online, real-time communication experience.

How can businesses use Nurph? What is the most useful

Many businesses have signed up to Twitter to share news and communicate with potential customers on the service. Nurph adds value by providing destinations, called “Channels”, where a company’s Twitter followers can congregate for free-flowing conversations – and, most-significantly, a “knowledge-learning robot system” that enables a company to teach their Twitter account to answer questions automatically, instantly, and at any time of the day. This feature is getting lots of interest because it makes your Twitter account work for you.

Twitter accounts were leaked a couple of weeks ago, the documents say twitter is not doing well. What do you think they’re missing?

The difficulty with Twitter, and the act of “tweeting”, has always been with articulating the benefits to end-users. Twitter has solved the problem of “getting the word out quickly”, but a lot of people and organisations are struggling to find their target audience on Twitter. So the solution is there but the audience isn’t. Once you look at how the Nurph product works, it’s easy to see how a business could leverage the Twitter platform in conjunction with Nurph to gain real business benefits – most notably faster customer support response times, easier knowledge-sharing, and better communication with customers. If you focus on solving problems that create value for people and make their lives easier, you’ll build a service that people will want to use.

When it comes to twitter followers – is it quantity or quality?

“Quality” and “engagement” are more important than quantity. Think about your Twitter followers in the same way that you would with your email newsletter subscribers and your Facebook friends. You want an audience that is interested and receptive to the things that you have to say.

Is this generation startup?

The web inherently makes it easier for people to get the ball rolling with a start-up and to discover other people doing the same thing. It certainly feels like we’re part of a young startup generation. But it’ll always take a certain type of person to be a passionate entrepreneur who will never quit no matter how hard the going gets. And there’s probably only a certain number of those people in every generation. It’s more about the people than the technology – the technology is just an enabler. You’re always going to need the passion and the determination to make a start-up a success.

Gap Year Startup

by Sam Creighton

Harriet is in her 3rd year of a history degree

For most people, gap years are less about entrepreneurship and more about alcohol, debauchery, and (mis)adventures. This could have been the case for Harrietta Doughty, currently in her 3rd year studying history at Queen Mary, University of London, as she set off to motorcycle across South America for a last hurrah at the end of sixth form. However, an encounter with a drunken woman in a small bar in Peru set her year on a very different path. Instead, she spent the time founding Maki International, a charity that helps disadvantaged women in Peru attain a better quality of life.

It was on a trip to the small town of Ayacucho that she met Marisol, slumped across the bar. “I went to order and asked if she was okay. She was like “Oh my god you’re white!” “Yes, yes I am” “Oh my god you speak Spanish!” “Yes, yes I do” and it started from there. She asked lots of questions about me and my life, and then we started talking about what she did. It really was opening a can of worms.”

Marisol Chancos Mendoza, Ayacucho native and co-founder of Maki International, had been working with American non-profit organisations for years trying to help local disadvantaged people. The last company that Marisol had worked with, Cross-Cultural Solutions, had gone bust, leaving the local prison – used to having a volunteer come in to help the women and children – without any charitable support. There are huge problems at the prison which has a 1,340 capacity but it houses over 2,000 inmates.

From this point Harrietta found herself becoming increasingly involved with the women in the prison, extending her stay in Peru from three weeks to six months. It started with fundraising in the community, from bake sales and kissing booths to sponsored walks. She also set up a website and was asking people back home to donate: “So we did actually make quite a lot of money quite quickly, enough to clean up an area and make it into a nursery and the soup kitchen came quite quickly as well.”

The ‘Maki International’ team at this point consisted of Harrietta, Marisol and a woman called Martha Dudenhoeffer, an American volunteer who now heads their Californian base.

The central aim of the organisation is to make the women employable for when they leave prison. Towards this end they teach the women sewing and knitting skills, as this is the main industry in the local area. The number of women taking part has been growing exponentially, from initially just six or seven women to the 182 currently involved. As the number of participants increased so have the activities. A recent big donation of computers has allowed Maki to teach the women computer literacy.

Women working on the crafts

‘Maki’ has exploded since Oprah magazine did a feature on the organisation and it has an increasingly successful commercial aspect: “Martha had the idea that we could make money from what we were doing and use it to do something good. The stuff that we’re selling – all these pillow cases, bags, clothes and tapestries that the women are making – are incredibly popular.”

Getting the goods into the US was a problem as there are swathes of red-tape to wade through, but once you’ve got in, Harrietta explains, “the world’s your oyster,” A recent coup has been getting the chain Anthropologie, which has a store in Regents Street, to stock goods made by Maki. “It’s been a lot of work and it will continue to be a lot of work but you’ve got to persevere. You have to approach the right people as well. There are different tiers of people, we started off just going to market stalls but then we moved on to shops and now to big chains. It’s knowing who to access and you do that by research and there are so many different social networks now that can give you direct access to people. LinkedIn is a great resource.”

As Maki is bringing in more and more money from its commercial side, they have been able to take on two more projects. One, an institute for abused women, offering a range of daily classes even has a boarding house. The second new project, introduced to the Maki trio by one of the ex-convicts they had helped, seeks to support those women living in the isolated Peruvian countryside. Many of these women see their families separated as farming doesn’t provide enough money to support them. Maki now approaches them and gets them to make products which the group then sells on their behalf. Both of these projects are still in their initial months but are proving very successful.

The prison in Peru

“There’s definitely things I could have done better,” Harrietta says. “I wish I had taken the time early on to sit down and make sure I really understood the law surrounding what I was doing, because if I did I think I would have seen a lot of the pitfalls I stumbled into much earlier on.” She also thinks a more structured planning process at the beginning of the venture would have been beneficial. “It was a project that kind of just stumbled along and I think if I’d had a real business plan from the start it would have been successful a lot quicker. Be prepared in every sense, get advice from as many people as possible, in all different sectors because it’s not just the law, it’s also the business, it’s also retail in general, with what I’m doing I also got advice from teachers about how to approach teaching the women how to knit for example, there’s so many different sectors you have to pull together to do something like this.”

Regardless of these things though, what Harrietta really thinks matters is the passion. “You’re going to be thrown so many obstacles you have to be sure that this is something you want to do.”

Homebaked Startup

Jessica Williams, 26, founded The BritPop Bakery, the first organic cake pop company, in late 2011 and runs it from her flat in London Bridge. Follow them on Twitter: @BritPopBakery

Jessica at home in London Bridge

Firstly, I have to ask – what are Cake Pops and is it crazy that I don’t know?

No, not at all! Cake Pops are a relatively new phenomenon, and are simply bites of cake on a lollipop stick. They originated in the US and were popularised by bloggers such as Bakerella, and have just begun to take off in a big way here.
They are really appealing for lots of reasons: their small size and lack of mess make them great for children to eat; they can be customised in a myriad of amazing ways, they are much easier to transport and are less sickly than cupcakes, and they are a novelty that actually taste good!
However, I totally disagree with the accepted US (and increasingly, British) method of making them. In the US and by most companies here, cake pops are made by mixing cake with cream cheese frosting and then coating in a substance called ‘Candy Coating’, or ‘Candy Melts’. This is a very versatile product that is used widely throughout the confectionery world because it is easy to work with and much cheaper than good-quality chocolate.
However, it’s honestly horrible stuff: it’s full of artificial colourings, and other off-putting ingredients such as partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil and titanium dioxide. The final straw was when I found out that, once heated, Candy Coating has to be continuously thinned with vegetable oil to maintain the smooth consistency. As a food lover I found this concept utterly revolting and so we decided to see if we could make them with proper cake, coated with organic chocolate, using ingredients that you wouldn’t be scared to feed your kids.

How does this fit in with your copywriting job?

The copywriting I do is for my boyfriend’s family business, The Village Coconut Island, so it’s more of a labour of love really. I’m not going to lie – it involves a lot of late nights. For example, I’m typing this at 12.30am and I still have at least an hour of work to do before my colleagues in Thailand wake up in the morning. However, thanks to the wonders of the internet and the ability to work from home, it is possible to fit it all in.

I see you do all the baking yourself. What are the plans for the future? Is expansion on the cards?

The baking is primarily done by myself, and we have a few talented baker friends who help us out when we have large orders, such as the wonderful Helena and Lizzie. I would love to expand one day – we shall just have to keep working our socks off and see what happens!

What was the biggest challenge about starting up your own business?

The debilitating fear of failure! I was – and still am – terrified that I am not good enough to do this, and that it will all go wrong. It’s when you get other people involved that you really think, “What am I doing? I can’t do this!” But you have to try to just keep working hard and believing in yourself. As my mother used to say when I was little: all you can do is try your hardest. My boyfriend’s father is a big inspiration to me. He is one of the hardest working people I have ever met and has built up his company completely from scratch. When I look at what he has achieved through sheer hard work and determination, I know it is possible.

And finally, we ask everyone ‘is this generation startup?’ Lots of young people are starting their own businesses at the moment and we are wondering if this will be seen as a generation known for its startups. Do you feel part of a young entrepreneurial community?

Definitely! There is such a great feeling of opportunity in the air at the moment. I haven’t felt anything like it before. You only have to look at the huge number of fantastic start-ups on Twitter and Facebook and the extraordinary level of support and encouragement that they give each other to see that this is something special.
Previous generations, to a certain extent, knew what they needed to do to guarantee a good career: work hard at school, get good grades, get a good degree at university and work your way up from a graduate position from there. That was tough, but now, it’s tougher. The huge lack of jobs coupled with increasing numbers of recent graduates mean that many of my contemporaries have had to be really creative and entrepreneurial just to find ways to support themselves – and many of these are men and women with fantastic degrees from really good universities.
The whole landscape and dynamic of the business world is changing, and we are in the middle of it. I think it’s all hugely exciting, and if we are prepared to work truly hard and embrace that change, then I honestly believe that ‘Generation Startup’ really can do anything.

Feature: Jobsonthego

Brighton based Shaun Cheesman didn’t have the best time at school, he tells me. ‘I knew I was different. I thought differently, I worked differently, I didn’t always fit in.’
After leaving school in 2001 Shaun started and built a successful print company, which he went on to sell. After a string of retail jobs he moved into recruitment and worked his way up various high street companies. He puts success in these companies largely down to personality. ‘I was being both resilient and kind in nature. I think that was really key to me winning contracts for the people I worked for… I was suddenly thriving while others struggled.’ During the recession, Shaun took voluntary redundancy and the decision to start something up on his own. It began with the name. ‘I was working freelance as a recruitment consultant when the name Jobsonthego came into my head.’ Building on knowledge from working in the industry, Shaun did some more research to shape his ideas. Determined ‘to find what other people weren’t doing, what could be different’ he collected data from 10,000 people, building contacts along the way.

When the results came back, his suspicion had been right – there was something missing. Shaun found these differences were not unrelated to his own experiences of the industry. While his previous success was reliant on an approachable personality, the recruitment sector is more and more digital. As well as enthusiasm for the recruitment sector, Shaun has a passion for everything online. He is driven by the potential of digital communications and technology. What is interesting is that Jobsonthego is born of a merge of these two passions. Combining an understanding of why such frustrations exist with an ambitious look to technology gave this business idea its unique approach.

Jobsonthego, once built, will be a mobile-based jobsite app – a kind of Broadbean for jobs. The service will be available on smartphones, tablets and social media platforms. ‘Through advertising alone the mobile app industry is worth 2.2 billion pounds and that’s just in the UK’. Simply a mobile company, its uniqueness doesn’t stop there. ‘We asked 10,000 people what is the biggest bug bare when applying for work and overwhelmingly recruitment agencies are the problem.’ Jobsonthego won’t allow agencies onto its app. Job hunters will apply directly to companies and can guarantee a response, ‘even if it’s a no thank-you.’ Advanced technology will create an ease of use that Shaun thinks is crucial: ‘applying for jobs will take seconds, not minutes or hours, and you will always know who you’re actually applying too.’

Another welcome aspect of the app may be its fresh approach to advertising, e-mails and e-marketing. ‘If a site does not have the jobs you’ve asked for, it’s simple – you won’t get a message.’ Shaun is clear. ‘Keep it relevant and no spam.’
And the employers? ‘UK companies are missing out on a different type of passive candidate that is looking for job application which is not just quick and simple but direct.’

Challenges so far? ‘Dyslexia is a challenge. I didn’t go to uni and my startup experience has been a different route but I am passionate about building a reliable brand and helping others succeed.’

The first steps have been in creating a social media presence; with over 11,800 followers on Twitter built solely through what Shaun calls ‘natural methods’. ‘I am really proud of this achievement, I only opened it a year ago.’ Jobsonthego is ahead of the leading online recruitment company by thousands of followers. Competitor Jobsite has just over 3500 followers.
As the first stage of their marketing strategy, it’s a pretty impressive feat and one that reflects what Jobsonthego is all about – industry understanding and digital technology meets a passionate drive to give candidates the service they want.

Does Shaun think this is this generation startup?
‘I’m not sure it matters. Saying that, the timing of my startup may be important – we are already seeing crucial signs of economic growth. I’m young, I don’t come from a privileged background but I’m determined – it has been great to meet others who share in seeing opportunity rather than hindrance.’

Interview: Charles McGregor on his 90s startup

By Steph Pickerill

Charles McGregor started his first business in the early 90s, just a 28 year old. His fibre optic network business, Fibernet, went on to become a fully listed stock exchange company.

The reasons for starting your own business are as varied as the ideas themselves. So why did he start his own business? Motivation came from a few years of experience in industry. After graduating he went to work for 6 years, having studied business studies and banking. Those years of experience, the chance to ‘brush up against real life,’ provided the background he sees as key.

The decision to break from the regular and become self-employed, effectively in competition with his previous employers, was motivated by a number of factors.
The business started as a partnership, the joint aspiration of Charles and a friend who also worked in the industry, with mutual agreement that they could ‘quite arrogantly, do a better job than their employers.’

Age was a big factor, and this had a lot to do with youth and mindset. ‘The risks involved at that age seem relatively small. If it doesn’t work, I’ll get a job’. The freedom that comes with youth allows for the kind of independence that is so essential to taking the risk of starting your own business. ‘It is a decision taken very much for yourself, before the responsibility of making decisions for a family’. At the time of starting out, he sold his own house to raise funds. ‘I put in all I had, financially.’

That’s not to say that the risks aren’t there, while the personal decisions seem relatively easy to make, ‘it is very scary’ working without the support network provided by an established business. Inspiration came from the prospect of ‘an exciting adventure’.

The realities of starting out are, to use a cliche, a learning curve. ‘Nobody gets it right completely and it is definitely harder than you think it’s going to be.’ Also, looking back, the ambition was not as well thought-out as the success would suggest. ‘I’d love to say we had a grand, well-crafted plan’ but ‘we learnt as we went along.’

Any secrets to success? Charles is modest. ‘We were enjoying ourselves, that’s the best way to be.’ This ethos spread to the structure of the business in those crucial first five years. We did the jobs we loved’, he says. Getting the right people to work for you is key. ‘You have to give them prospects, a career path, even as a small business there must be ambition to retain good employees.’

And entrepreneurship? As lots of entrepreneurs do, Charles appreciates that ‘not all entrepreneurs are the same,’ but there are some aspects of his character that, looking back, seemed to fit the mould. He was head of school, something he now looks on as a sign of future leadership roles.

Charles speaks humbly of his startup experience and, since selling his business, has gone on to aid others in theirs as an investor and mentor.

‘I would do it all again, it’s extremely scary but very exciting.’

And is this generation startup? ‘I think that comparing this generation (ie yours) with those gone before where working hard and creatively for one company for a whole career meant stability, security and a rewarding pension was the expected ‘norm’ has now all but disappeared and has pushed today’s generation to start up their own businesses because the relative disadvantages are much closer. Couple this with the much improved environment, social acceptability and optical spectre of reward, both in job satisfaction and financial, then this is Generation Start Up.’

Go South West

Image courtesy of Heathrow Airport

By Caz Parra

“This is the decade of Latin America” says Colombian Ambassador Mauricio Rodriguez Munera.

Mr Munera, founder and former director of Portafolio, Colombia’s most prominent financial newspaper, who has also held director positions at Dow Chemicals, bases this claim on the World Development Report published last year. Speaking at a New Turn event, he outlined 12 factors that have contributed to the progress in the region, one of which is investment.

Investing in Latin America is a win-win situation. The investor gets to break into a new market and the country gets… well, your taxes. If things work as Mr Munera describes them ,this means that the country can also do better: “Investment generates employment, can potentially substitute imports, gives the opportunity to raise taxes from businesses and consumers in order to be able to invest in social priorities, without this there is no way of improving the area” says Munera, “to think otherwise is probably naive”.

Branding the region as a “ land of opportunity” Munera said that young Europeans should “go south west”, declaring that the possibilities provided by the “energy and enthusiasm” of Latin America far outstrip those found in Europe.

But how is the UK responding to this new reality? Mr Munera tells us that the UK are not only aware but working to strengthen their ties with Latin America. “I think the solution to Europe’s economic problems is outside of Europe” says Mr Munera, he believes that by breaking into new markets like Latin America, China or India, the UK can achieve the economic growth it needs.

What we learnt at uni #1: The human touch

"From Napoleon to Seti to Churchill..." Image by Mark Allanson

What we learnt at uni – In this series we’re asking university graduates and students to comment on the relevance of their degree to entrepreneurship.

The human touch: why studying history will make you more enterprising

by Josh White

For the recent graduate and young entrepreneur, approximately 65702% of your time will be spent repeatedly smashing your laptop closed on your face like a crocodile’s jaw, searching endlessly, applying endlessly for jobs, funding, internships, contacts, interviews – anything. It has never been harder for young people to find work. (Hemingway wrote about the ‘Lost Generation’ and, while they had two World Wars, the Great Depression, housing crises, and the flagrant animal horror that is jazz, I can assure you that our plight is worse.) Having a good degree will definitely help. And the best degree for this is History. Here’s why.

When you first set up a business, so much of your early work will be figuring out what you’re good at. Why are you different? What skills do you have that set you apart? And this is why History is the ubermensch of all subjects. Aside from all the shiny prospectus stuff about reasoning skills, analysing factors, communication, arguing from evidence, writing persuasively, yada yada, zzzzz, you’ll also pick up one really amazing skill that no other subject can hope to give you: understanding of human experience.

Sure, that sounds lofty and weird, but let me explain. Almost all of the collective and individual experience of all human beings, societies and civilisations that have ever existed is stored in the past. In history. What your degree in History allows you to do is engage with this experience, to really understand and relate to figures from Napoleon to Seti to Churchill, and to grasp the desires, beliefs, wishes, hopes and worries of the millions of people affected in the histories you have read. You think Lenin’s New Economic Policy isn’t applicable to your business? What you have learnt from that is like an iceberg: the information, the facts, the plot – this sticks out above the surface. But what is submerged, what you don’t often realise you’ve learned, is the ability to rationalise the human as an agent, as a magnificent dynamo of feelings, actions, resentments, joys and aspirations. This unique understanding of the human makes historians brilliant, attractive graduates.

The next time your client sends you a difficult e-mail or a strange request, I’d bet that you’re empathetic, that you’re better than most at pulling out what they want, quicker than most at meeting their expectations. And when you’re filling out your next job application or funding request, when you’re asked to describe your skills and experiences, don’t just put ‘meeting deadlines’, or ‘working under pressure’. Think about what studying History has meant for the way you communicate and relate. Selling experience is the meat and drink of smart enterprise. Selling yourself well is just as important.

Josh White is a history graduate and freelance writer who has contributed to the New Statesman, The Huffington Post and BBM Live Magazine.

Olympics Inspiring Social Enterprise

Ruth Faulkner is Founder and of Aspire

By Ruth Faulkner

In a borough that is the second most deprived and has the highest rate of child poverty in London the imperative for community engagement projects is clear. Although Tower Hamlets has a number of issues as a borough, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for its young people as the community pulls together to initiate enrichment projects, a key one of these being sport participation.

In the run up to the London 2012 Olympics, the impetus to increase youth sport participation is being driven from the top, but it is from grass social enterprises that young people are finding their opportunities. Inspiring social enterprise was pitted as one of the key aims of the Olympic legacy from the bid in 2005, and in Tower Hamlets with sport enterprises it can be seen to be successful.

One such enterprise was born from Queen Mary University of London students who formed a volunteer-led organisation focused solely on youth sport participation within the local community. The project, named QMSU Aspire, was devised entirely by students who felt that the university was lacking in Olympic spirit, especially being situated within the Olympics borough of Tower Hamlets.

In taking their ideals from the London 2012 Legacy Vision and aiming to “inspire a new generation of young people to take part in volunteering, cultural and physical activity”, the students have clearly been inspired by the Olympics themselves, but want to take their project further than this summer’s Games. By securing key relationships with schools, community sport organisations and the volunteers at the university QMSU Aspire aims to carve a youth sport legacy from the Olympics.

The project currently focuses on the Paralympics Games and Para Sport and its volunteers are hosting a Paralympic sports day for 100 local school children this week, giving them the chance to try out some of the sports for themselves. By showcasing sports such as Boccia and Sitting Volleyball that the schoolchildren would not normally come into contact with, the project ‘aspires’ to increase disability awareness alongside sporting enthusiasm. With Tower Hamlets recently winning a grant for £5000 for development within disability sports from the Balfour Beatty and London Youth Games partnership, this is a sector that is going to see exciting activities in the coming year, with Aspire’s event this Friday March 16th kicking this off.

Aspire as a social enterprise is completely student-led with one project leader and ten team leaders who have worked on the project throughout the year. They have also recruited 50 casual volunteers to work events. This is a great example of young people giving their time for free for a cause that they support, and in return they have gained key work experience, event and leadership training.

To find out more about the Aspire project email aspire@qmsu.org

Ruth Faulkner is a final year Journalism and Contemporary History student, studying between City University and Queen Mary University of London. ‘I am passionate about volunteering, sports and media and have worked throughout my time at university to engage in these sectors. I want all students to be aware of the personal development and key skills that can come from stepping outside your comfort zones and getting involved in voluntary projects.’

We’re live!

So now that we’re live here’s how we’re going to organise things:

Offshore - a look at the business and startup world outside the UK

In Focus – the freshest, youngest business idea we could find, from the people behind them

Tools for Trade - reviews of some of the many resources out there for entrepreneurs

Social StartUp - startups that are social, simple

Business Class – ok so it’s not all about us, what can we learn from those that have done it before?

Talking Shop – news, business talk, debate and discussion or just what we happen to be thinking about…

What do you think?