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.
History graduate Ammarah Javid
I took part in 3DS in 2015 and it was such an exciting learning opportunity for me. I learnt so much in the space of a few days and built long lasting relationships with the mentors who were genuinely interested in helping us grow our ideas. Essentially, it gave me the confidence to start a project I am working on now, one and a half years later. Starting a business always seemed so difficult and complicated to me but the incubator session proved that team work and strategy planning were all the ingredients you needed to execute and bring to life your business idea.
Using these skills, my Co-Founder Abdul Shakur and I have planned our first event on the 8th February which has also been sponsored by NatWest, within a few weeks of coming up with the initiative. Our project is called London Diverse Professionals (LDP) and the aim is to tackle the diversity issues in various industries by creating greater interaction between professionals and minorities, women and those from less privileged backgrounds. We hope that we can help students build their networks before entering the workplace as opposed to after beginning their careers.
I have a lot of faith in the underlying objective and I look forward to embarking upon my own journey of challenges. Incubators like 3DS are great because they create so much more than 3 days of activity. They instil confidence, spark interest and ignite potential within students that lead to future lightbulb moments which may well be life changing for themselves, let alone anyone else. 3DS was definitely my wake-up call and I recommend it to anyone that wants to either start their own business, develop their skills, or simply want to unleash their entrepreneurial drive and spirit!
Event Link: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/diversity-networking-evening-sponsored-by-natwest-tickets-31240861257.
Austin Tran is the marketing assistant at a London based digital startup, called ClickMechanic, which enable users to quickly and easily get their car repaired, since their founding in 2012.
Here, Austin busts some common myths around working for a startup…
- You need to have a degree in Computer Science
It’s true that many startups are tech focused, and there is certainly a shortage of developers (though not just in the startup world). However, scaling a business requires not just building a great product, but actually selling it. There a multitude of roles available in startups where you will pick up new skills along the way.
- You will just pour coffee
Working in a startup can be intense, the team is relying on you to perform in order to grow the business. This means that you’ll have much more responsibility at a startup than in a corporate environment. You’ll be asked to job straight in from day one, often to do things that you don’t know how to. Whilst this responsibility can seem daunting at first, this is often one of the main reasons given for high job satisfaction in startups.
- Work-life balance
Since you and your team will be trying to achieve great things with few resources in a fraction of the time it should take, you should be prepared to graft. Prioritisation is key to managing your workload, but the occasional late night or day at the weekend to finish a project is inevitable. The saving grace is that working hours tend to be more flexible, which can suit those who prefer to work late than face early mornings!
- Your job title is your destiny
When you’re hired by a startup, you’ll be given a job title; don’t think this is all you’ll do. You’ll be tasked with whatever needs doing rather than what fits under your role. This means one day crawling through spreadsheets and another out delivering flyers! The variety of work in a startup can save you from the boredom that leaves you banging your head against your desk at the end of the day.
- You get Google style perks
The startup world is associated for great benefits, with offices branded as campuses, and free massages. These tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Most startups aren’t flush with cash, and so your perks are more likely to be free beer in the office on a Friday evening than free health insurance and gym membership.
Working in a startup certainly isn’t for everyone, you need to be prepared to be taken outside of your comfort zone, work hard and learn fast. You’ll end up working harder for less pay than some of your friends in corporate jobs, but your work will be varied, you’ll learn a whole host of new skills and get to share in the achievements of your company. It can be an incredibly rewarding career choice, especially early on in your career.
Are you passionate about making a difference in your community?
Do you want to learn how to set up a social enterprise to tackle problems in your area?
The East London Social Hack is a 3 day bootcamp (17th – 19th February 2017) that will equip participants with the skills they need to start their own social enterprises from scratch.
We are looking for students from any subject area and level (undergrad or postgrad) to take part. You don’t need to have any experience of enterprise, just the passion to make a difference and the drive to work with others to start a new project from scratch.
Over the weekend you will learn the basics of setting up a social enterprise, including idea generation using the social lean canvas, market testing and validation, and how to create impact for users. You will have the chance to network with and learn from a variety of mentors with experience of setting up their own social enterprises.
The weekend will culminate with a final pitch event to a judging panel, where teams will have the opportunity to pitch for a package of funding, free desk space, and follow on support from the enterprise team.
The application deadline is 31st January, and shortlisted applicants will be interviewed over the phone.
Apply here to secure your place.
On Tuesday night we held the final pitches of our 8 week incubator programme. Over the past 8 weeks, 13 businesses have explored topics such as customer validation, market research and pitching, as well as having weekly support from mentors that have backgrounds in different industries such as advertising, Fin Tech and the charity sector. The students pitched to a panel of judges and an audience of almost 50.
The judging panel consisted of 2 representatives from JA Kemp law firm (image below) who were providing £1,000 of legal advice for the winning business. Another judge was Adam Goddall, a tech entrepreneur, product specialist and start-up mentor. Adam co-founded Monizo, the world’s first bank account for freelancers. Our fourth judge was Hannah Jackson who manages Expert Impact, a charity that supports established social entrepreneurs who are in growth stage by matching them with expert mentors. Prior to this she was at The Princes Trust running their enterprise programme in North London, supporting young, unemployed people to start and launch their own business.
There were 4 prizes up for grabs. The winner of Best Pitch was ‘Scenicly’, a next generation navigation app which takes you on a personalised journey instead of the standard A to B. Best Progress went to social enterprise ‘Just Like Mama’s’ which is an app that will allow unemployed women in the Tower Hamlets area to cook home cooked meals for University students. Best Idea went to ‘Sweeter Than Pi’ which uses relevant and colourful social media posts to encourage young girls to engage with Maths and move towards STEM based careers.
Our overall winner was ‘SickCover’, an app that allows supply teachers to book cover in high schools. This received £1,000 of free legal advice from JA Kemp and this will be tailored to their business following an initial meeting. Other business ideas included a robotic device that aids the rehabilitation process for stroke victims, a cycling safety device and a vintage fashion brand.
InQUBEate is our 8 week mentoring and training programme that supports student entrepreneurs. Participants have weekly group and 1-1 mentoring workshops, receive seed funding, supplemented by training sessions covering all aspects of running a successful start-up business, including marketing, pitching, and business planning. If you are successful in receiving an award, you will automatically secure a place on our InQUBEate programme which will begin at the end of January.
Our Award breakdowns are as follows:
‘Try It’ Prizes
Win funds of up to £500 to get your social enterprise or business idea off the ground. To win a Try It prize, you don’t need to have a business plan, just a problem you want to solve and some idea how you might do it. You might want to test a solution to a problem you see around you on campus or in the community. Or it might be you want to test out a business idea.
‘Grow It’ Prizes
Win funds of up to £5000 to develop your existing profit-making or social enterprise. To win a Grow It prize, your enterprise doesn’t have to be profitable yet, but you need to show a clear pathway to profitability. We’ll also ask you to outline exactly how this money would help you to take your enterprise to the next stage.
‘Build It’ Prize
If you have an idea that you can’t test before you’ve developed a prototype, you can apply for up to £10,000 to develop one (e.g. an app, website, or physical prototype). To win a Build It prize you need to undertake significant market research to show that your product has commercial potential and offers an innovative solution to a market need.
For feedback on your idea please book an enterprise appointment by calling 020 7882 8533 and click on the following link for more information and applications:
My name is Ross Ward, and I am the founder of Motus Innovations, a medical device company focused on revolutionising the rehabilitation of stroke patients, using innovative technology. I founded the company in the final year of my Medical Engineering degree at Queen Mary, after my grandmother suffered from a stroke and was left disabled. I searched for a way to help her recover, but found no affordable solutions. This was my inspiration behind Motus; with a background in Medicine, experience working in industry as a mechanical engineer, combined with the knowledge I was gaining from my degree, I decided to try and create a rehabilitation system that would allow stroke patients to complete more hours of physiotherapy.
Motus is being developed by a team of 3, with a mixture of clinical and technical knowledge and expertise, as well as five interns from a range of disciplines. It hasn’t always been this way. For over a year, it was only me. Finding time to work on my Motus, in between studying for my final exams and working as an engineer, was one of the hardest challenges I had faced, but my determination and passion got me through it. The company has achieved a great deal in such a short period of time, but there are a few key things that I am most proud of. First of all, Motus Innovations was one of the 100 start ups selected to be part of Mass Challenge UK’s accelerator programme – the companies chosen are considered some of the most high impact start-ups around. Secondly, we were nominated for the Penrose Awards 2016 Innovator of the Year, and Product of the Year, a huge feat of which I am immensely proud and thankful for.