Want some free money to develop a business idea? Deadline this Sunday!

Not sure what to do with your summer?

Why not use some free money to develop a business idea?

Take a look at our different awards below and note the deadline for submission will be the 18th June at midnight. You can find details on how to apply here, but if you have any immediate questions, please contact Natasha on n.triay@qmul.ac.uk.

If you are successful, you would be automatically given a place on InQUBEate, our incubator programme that begins in October.  However, we are in the office all summer and can support you develop your business over the next few months.

We look forward to hearing from you!

‘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’ Prizes

Win funds up to £10,000 to build a new product – an app, a website or a physical prototype – all you need to do is show your idea has commercial potential.

Enterprise case study: Ross Ward, Motus Innovations

ross-wardMy 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.

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Enterprise: The importance of market research

brainstorm-1076587_960_720-1Having a business idea can be so exciting that you want to launch immediately.  However, it is extremely important that you don’t rush into launching an idea without first of all taking the time to compile market research.  This is so you don’t waste your time, energy and money on an idea that may not work.  Conducting the appropriate market research will ensure you are going to launch your business to its full potential and can make you aware of problems that may arise.

Some individuals will set up their business having completed very little market research, often asking friends and family for feedback on their idea prior to launch.  On the other hand, you can find that some people will spend so much time researching their idea that they fail to ever launch. It’s important that you find the correct balance. 

Often asking friends and family can lead to biased results. Therefore, by asking members of the public who are a sample of your target market you will be able to gain valuable and unbiased feedback that will result in organic answers. You could do this via forums, LinkedIn discussion groups that relate to your topic and www.surveymonkey.com. This will help you to further develop your product or service and also to better understand your market, potential customers and competitors.

mrAnalysing your competitors is an important component of your market research. You should examine their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with respect to their website, marketing, service and promotions. This will allow you to solidify your Unique Selling Point and ensure that your idea stands out from competitors in a positive light.

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Enterprise: Who we are

Are you interested in starting your own business, developing an existing idea or networking with other aspiring and established entrepreneurs?

Do you want to develop your employability skills?

The Enterprise team can help you achieve these goals whether you want to start a business or learn more about the process itself. If you have a creative idea or an existing business that you want to expand, we can provide you with the funding, mentoring and skills that you need to succeed.

We provide seed funding, an incubator programme, mentoring, enterprise boot camps, specialist workshops, free stalls at markets both on and off campus, pitching events and talks from local entrepreneurs. To sign up to any of our events visit https://careersandenterpriseevents.wordpress.com/

InQUBEate is Queen Mary’s 8 week start-up incubator programme, which has places for students to join in Semesters 1 and 2.  During the programme you will have weekly meetings with mentors from a range of industries, receive training on a range of topics including marketing and legal issues, meet like-minded students to share your ideas with, and pitch for funding to a panel of judges.

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The best first step to becoming an entrepreneur? Make the most of being at university

Christian Nellemann is a serial entrepreneur and a double winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award – the only person to receive the honour twice. He has started four successful companies including his latest venture, XLN Telecom, a specialist broadband provider for small businesses. Here Christian explains why you should utilise your time at university if you’re interested in becoming an entrepreneur.

‘We live in the age of the self-made, “celebrity” entrepreneur, men and women who made it to the top and proved that it’s not just the privileged and the well-educated who can succeed in business: Alan Sugar left his Hackney school at 16 with barely a handful of O-Levels yet has risen to the House of Lords; Richard Branson gave up on education even earlier to continue running Student magazine without the distraction of school. And, yes, it’s probably safe to say that it worked out well for them (and their bank accounts) but it is not the way for everybody. For a lot of people going to university can be an invaluable boost towards entrepreneurship in many ways. Sure, the people I mentioned earlier made it big without a degree, but that doesn’t mean university is a waste of time. Quite the opposite! In fact, I believe that getting a degree before entering the world of business will turn out to be the best investment you ever make.

It gives you tangible skills

My very first business saw me taking apples from my neighbours’ gardens at the age of six and selling them door-to-door. Clearly I had the entrepreneurial spirit at an early age, but in order to learn the best way to build a proper (and, more importantly legal!) business, I realised I’d need to pursue higher education first. I studied my BSc in Economy & Business Analysis and four successful companies later, I still count it among the best decisions I ever made.

These days, in the world of ‘Big Data’, everything in business is driven by numbers. The large focus of my degree on analysis has meant that I can take the data available in the running of my companies and turn it into actionable insights, transforming my business for the better.

This focus on analysis enabled me to search for patterns within the data in order to solve the problems I faced – problem solving is in essence, what business is all about. The parts of my studies that focused on business not only incubated these talents, they taught me to apply them to real world problems with my own ideas. Many fantastic business ideas have failed because of lack of planning or efficient running, no matter how hardworking or enterprising their creator. On top of what I learnt, my pre-existing skills were developed within university, preparing me for the challenges of a life in business.

It exposes you to a variety of people

And it wasn’t just the educational side of university that I believe was vital in my development. Learning how to research and formulate ideas of your own, apply them to a scenario and share them with others through simple and effective communication is a priceless skill in almost any industry, but particularly if you’re an entrepreneur. That great idea you have is only as great as you can make others believe it is – whether it is the investors you are hoping to impress or the customer you are hoping to serve.

People in general and the way you can communicate with them will play a very important role in your business. The melting pot of university coupled with the sheer number of people available for you to meet during your time there is likely to not only foster great interpersonal skills but form lasting personal and working friendships. Connections made at university can last a lifetime and, in the world of business, ‘who you know’ can be almost as important as ‘what you know’.

Overall, I believe that university furnishes you with a set of invaluable skills to help your business idea grow. Although there is an argument for just ‘getting out there and doing it’, showing patience and waiting a few years to finish your studies can equip you with the knowledge you need to truly succeed.

If I could go back and talk to my 18 year old self, my advice would remain the same: stick it out. As impatient as I was to start on my own business adventures – and make a bit of money along the way – as an investment in my future earning going to university was one of the wisest decisions I have ever made.’

And you can get help with your business idea…

The QMUL Careers & Enterprise Centre has dedicated staff to help QMUL students and graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship. Whether you already have a business going or have an idea and don’t know where to start we can help you. We have events throughout the year for entrepreneurs, a newsletter giving information on competitions and events, and there’s also a chance to apply for funding to help develop your enterprise. If you’d like to know more about the help we can provide simply give us a ring on 020 7882 8533 or drop us an email: enterprise@qmul.ac.uk. 

 

Kickstarting Your Business Idea

Once you’ve got over the initial barrier of having an idea, the next thing to consider is how the hell you are going to get things moving; money is usually the first thing on anyone’s list!

Only a few of us are lucky enough to have substantial savings, so sourcing some funding will crucial for most. There are several routes you can go down (e.g. a bank loan, borrowing from family or friends, or looking for grants from sources). In this article we’ll be looking at Crowd Funding as a way of building some capital to make your idea into a reality.

I’m going to use Kickstarter as it is probably the most dominant service at the moment, but of course there are a number of other similar services out there, and I’ll link to them at the end of the blog.

I spoke to two people who have been running successful Kickstarters raising thousands of pounds each for their projects. Niru Fekri Arnold, a current student at Queen Mary, University of London. Niru has just finished his first Kickstarter campaign for his book Life: The Unofficial Strategy Guide, and Michael Fox who is a more experienced Kickstarter midway through his latest project Fox & Chicken – Werewolf hits the henhouse! a family orientated version of the game Mafia.

Hi Niru, what made you decide to go down the Kickstarter route to fund your book?

Niru: I heard about Kickstarter around 2 years ago, and never been that interested. But I subscribe to a lot of gaming magazines so I began to hear a lot of success stories, and I’ve also bought a few games through Kickstarter. A guy called Darren Wall who was doing a book about Sensible Software, which I saw and thought was great. I had already had the idea for my book, but never really even thought about publishing it, but I saw there was a market for it when he raised over 30k.

So with that in mind I wrote up a couple of bits of the book about a month and half ago and posted them on Reddit to see if there was any interest, and there was resounding positivity.

I went for Kickstarter over say Indiegogo as it is a bit more business/project focussed and I thought that was more for me.  My cousin, who is my partner on this, and I spent about 2 weeks planning what we were going to do and I got in touch with Darren Wall to tell him about how his book inspired me. I also asked about his project and how he had raised the money and he gave me a lot of interesting tips. It was kind of like mentoring, and it was a huge help.

So in your story you are ready to go, and about to launch the round of funding. How did you go about getting the word out and how much time did it take to generate interest? Continue reading