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.
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.
Having 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.
Analysing 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.
The Enterprise team give out funding awards each year in order to support students testing out business ideas, developing existing ones or £10,000 to develop a new prototype. Read on to hear from some of our winners from last year who were granted funding of £10,000. For more information of how you can receive these awards, see here.
TakeIn is an alternative takeaway app developed by Soham Trivedi and Geeta Patel, left). The app delivers home cooked food directly to the user’s home. They were inspired by the idea of sharing authentically cooked meals and intend to challenge the idea that takeaway food is unhealthy. In 5 years’ time, they hope to become the biggest food delivery provider in the UK, as well as completely redesigning the British takeaway marketplace.
How have you interacted with the Queen Mary Enterprise Programme?
We entered the Queen Mary Enterprise Programme when we applied for the Build It award. Having entered online, we were contacted to prepare a short presentation followed by questions from the panel. Following this we heard that we have been awarded the funding and could being testing out our business idea.
What was the most useful aspect of the support provided?
It is valuable to have input from an experienced individual in the Enterprise team through appointments and they have provided us with inspiration regarding how to progress with our idea and where to find various resources. For example, they have connected us with The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme who have a lot of home food businesses that will be able to make use of our app. There is lots of support available that would otherwise be unknown to us.