This weekend 50 students from QMUL took part in the ‘East London Social Hack’, an intensive enterprise bootcamp that tasks participants to set up social enterprises in just 3 days to address key issues in their local community.
The first ‘East London Social Hack’ took place in March 2016 and, due to its popularity, the event was expanded this year with the support of an £18,500 grant from the UPP Foundation. This allowed the bootcamp to be increased from 2 to 3 days, and enabled the winning teams to receive a package of workspace and mentoring for 3 months in co-work space Launch 22, along with £500 of funding to market test their ideas.
The grant also enabled the university to assemble an impressive line-up of 16 local social entrepreneurs who helped students to develop and validate their ideas over the weekend, including Junior Ogunyemi, a QMUL economics graduate and author of ‘How to be a Student Entrepreneur’, Katherine Hibbert, founder of hugely successful property social enterprise DotDotDot, Junior Smart, founder of SOS Gangs Projects, and Alexis Olapido, founder of Gym Bites.
On day 1, students discussed social issues that they were passionate about and formed teams based on their values, culminating with their first pitch of the weekend. They heard from Katherine, who set up DotDotDot Property in Tower Hamlets to link empty property with renters who were willing to volunteer in their local community in return for cheap rent. The company now turns over £1milllion a year and has expanded across London.
On day 2, students were introduced to the social lean canvas model, which they applied to their initial ideas to help them to start thinking about potential sustainable revenue models and their unique value propositions. In the afternoon, they went out into the community and did their own market research before applying this to refine their ideas. Junior Smart was one of the speakers of the day who told students how he turned his life around after spending 12 years in prison, and was shocked to see that re-offending rates of ex-offenders were 75% in his area. He now runs a programme that trains ex-offenders and gives them jobs, along with working in schools to prevent gang crimes.
On day 3, students pitched their ideas to a team of judges: Duncan Knight, experienced entrepreneur and owner of multiple businesses, Sarah Gifford, Community Engagement Officer from QMUL, and Andrew Haughton, Programme Manager from Enactus.
The top 3 winning teams will receive a package of workspace and funding to launch their ideas and start trading.
UP-grade – an enterprise putting on extra-curricular workshops in schools to raise grades.
Wooland – an enterprise promoting social cohesion in East London through musical events.
Fiscal Fitness – financial education for secondary school students.
The other four finalists are undertaking some further market research to validate their ideas, and will have the opportunity to pitch for two more prizes of funding and workspace in two weeks time.
All the winning teams will receive workspace in Launch 22, and further enterprise training from QMUL to help their ideas to get off the ground.