The Business Start-Up Journey 2019-20

Sign up now and start a business while you study at Kent

The Business Start-Up Journey is an inspirational programme which brings student business start-up ideas to life.

This 15-week co-curricular programme will provide you with a step-by-step guide to starting a business, teaching you the skills that are required to be a successful entrepreneur.

The programme welcomes all students at the University of Kent. The Journey will be based in the ASPIRE space (Accelerator Space for Innovation and Enterprise) in the Sibson building, Canterbury and at the Medway campus.

The programme’s focus on innovation will enhance your employability. You will learn how to assess risk, how to turn challenges into opportunity and develop leadership, communication, presentation and team-working skills.

Six steps to success

1. Be inspired

Meet successful business people and fellow student entrepreneurs. Take part in the Ideas Hack to discover or develop your own business idea. Find new partners to work with.

2. Explore and learn

Work with business experts to learn about key business start-up areas including market research, product launch, social media and intellectual property.

3. Get investor-ready

Develop your business plan with one-to-one advice from our Entrepreneur in Residence, Tech Entrepreneur in Residence and Investor in Residence.

4. Refine your strategy

Get one-to-one support and advice from our pool of successful entrepreneur mentors.

5. Showcase your idea

Pitch your business to the experts, makes valuable new connections and get the chance to win cash prizes to set up your business.

6. Be your own boss

You’re in business. Use your new-found skills to get a first foot on the career ladder.

Student Success

Andrew Christopher

Student Entrepreneur – L-Drive

Andrew Christopher, KBS Business and Management student, is the founder of L-Drive, an online platform bringing together independent driving instructors with learner drivers looking for cheaper lessons.

Andrew was the winner last year’s Business Start-Up Journey (BSUJ) and received £1,000 prize to help execute his business.

Nadia Simpson

Student Entrepreneur – esi

Nadia Simpson, KBS Accounting and Finance with a Year In Industry, created esi offering high-quality hair products. Currently, on a Self-Employed Placement year, Nadia is focused on developing her product range and building her social media brand.

Stephanie Leon

Student Entrepreneur – MiniBioLab

MSc Biotechnology and Bioengineering student, Stephanie Leon, reached the finals of the BSUJ with MiniBioLab, an innovation in laboratory technology aimed at the education sector.

Key dates

The majority of the Business Start-Up Journey will be delivered on Wednesday afternoons in Canterbury and Thursday afternoons in Medway, making it easy for you to fit in around your study.

The Campus Shuttle is a free coach service between Medway and Canterbury campuses. The service operates 7 days a week term-time only and the journey takes approximately 50 minutes.

After the Business Start-Up Journey Launch, the times and locations of all events will be supplied to all students wishing to continue on the Journey.

Wednesday 23 October | Canterbury Launch
Successful serial entrepreneur On Yavin will talk about his entrepreneurial journey and explaining the potential for block-chain to positively disrupt business.
Thursday 24 October | Medway Launch
Meet and be inspired by our successful student entrepreneurs and take part in the Ideas Hack to kick-start your own start-up journey.
Saturday 26 October | Bootcamp 1 – Ideas Hack
Using resources including VR headsets, take a dive into discovering new ideas. Working in teams, develop exciting new business propositions.
Wednesdays 30 October (Canterbury) Thursday 31 October (Medway) | Problem Solving
Develop or discover your business idea using Design Thinking principles.
Wednesday 13 November (Canterbury), Thursday 14 November (Medway) | Idea to reality
Working in teams, take our 50-minute challenge to solve a problem and come up with a business idea and then make it!
Wednesday 19 November (Canterbury), Thursday 20 November (Thursday) | New tech, new ideas
Using cutting-edge apps and other tools explore how new technology can inspire new business ideas.
Wednesday 27 November, 4 December, 22 January (Canterbury), Thursday 28 November, 5 December, 23 January (Medway) | Understand your customers, know your competition
Use research to find out what your customers want and differentiate yourself from the competition. Develop your business idea to meet your customers’ needs.
Wednesday 29 January | Google masterclass 
Join search engine giants Google to learn how to use SEO and digital marketing strategy to promote your business online.
Wednesday 5 February (Canterbury), Thursday 6 February (Medway)  | Build a website
A hands-on workshop led by the Kent IT consultancy where you will learn to build your own pop-up website to test your idea and reach your potential customers.
Saturday 8 February | Bootcamp 2 – Proof of concept 
Test your ideas online and in the real world supported by your fellow entrepreneurs and the ASPIRE team.
Wednesday 12 February (Canterbury), Thursday 13 February (Medway) | Using social media
Understand how you can use the power of social media and create content to reach your customers. Create a video for advertising, pitching or competitions.
Wednesday 19 February (Canterbury), Thursday 20 February (Medway) | Finance drop-ins
Our experts will help you understand how to price your business, your start-up costs and cash flow. Meet with our Investor in Residence to discuss how to attract investors.
Wednesday 4 March (Canterbury), Thursday 5 March (Medway) | Build your business plan 
Be guided through the steps of putting together a compelling business plan with the ASPIRE Business Model Canvas
Saturday 7 March | Bootcamp 3 – Perfect your pitch 
Learn the best tricks and tips for building an outstanding pitch to present to potential investors. Build confidence in public speaking with fun games and exercises.
Wednesday 11 March (Canterbury), Thursday 12 March (Medway) | Making Sales
Face-to-face, on the phone or online, however you plan to reach your customers, you’ll need to convert interest in your business into sales.
Wednesday 18 March (Canterbury), Thursday 19 March (Medway) | Be brilliant at networking
In a hands-on session, learn how you can use networking opportunities effectively – face-to-face and online – to promote your start up.
Wednesday 25 March | Pitching finals and showcase
Selected students entrepreneurs have the chance to pitch their business to our panel of expert judges and win £1,000 to develop their business. Everyone is welcome to join the showcase and celebrate the Business Start-Up Journey programme.

The Business Start-Up Journey Team

Adam Smith / Entrepreneur in Residence

An experienced entrepreneur, Adam runs a management consultancy and has diversified into angel investing in start-up companies. On the Business Start-Up Journey, Adam will mentor you through the start-up process, providing you with critical support and advice

Rebecca Smith / ASPIRE Project Officer

Rebecca coordinates all things Business Start-Up Journey. With 18 years’ experience as a journalist, Rebecca uses her extensive network to ensure the best possible support and advice is available to you as you progress on the Journey.

Jason Marshall / Tech Entrepreneur in Residence

Jason has been a successful IT consultant for 10 years. On the Business Start-Up Journey, Jason will help test the viability and feasibility of your business propositions with a focus on innovative technology ideas.

Karen Winton / Investor in Residence

Former financial journalist, Karen, has worked in business investment including Venture Capital and start-ups. She will help to make your business attractive to investors.


The Business Start-Up Journey Mentors

Akash Agarwal / GM, SAP´s Enterprise Mobile Business

Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur, Akash has 22 years of experience in high tech. He has held a variety of roles, including Founder and CEO of two venture-backed companies. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BSc in Computer Science from Kent.

Laura Bounds / Managing Director, Kent Crisps and Kentish Condiments

Laura’s specialism is marketing and the retail of food and drink. Laura says: ‘A good idea is great, but what business is about, is spotting an opportunity.’

Daniel Rubin / Founder and Executive Chairman, The Dune Group

As founder of an international fashion footwear brand with 300 stores in 20 countries round the world, Daniel’s specialisms lie in retail, wholesale, importing and marketing.

If you want more information on how to get involved with the Business Start-Up Journey please contact the ASPIRE team.

4 responses to “The Business Start-Up Journey 2019-20

  1. Dear Aspire team,

    I am a law student who is very interested in starting my own business.

    This is something I am definitley interested in.

    Could you please provide me with more information regarding how I could start the process.


    Fransiskus Soyo.

    1. Hi Fransiskus, Thanks for your message.

      It’s great that you’re interested in ASPIRE. If you would like to find out more about what we do, have a one-to-one advice session or join the Business Start-Up Journey email and Rebecca will be able to advise you further.

  2. Dear Aspire team,

    I am a Philosophy student who is very interested in starting my own business.

    Could you please provide me with more information regarding how I could start the process.



    1. Hi Jasmine, thanks for your message.

      It’s great that you’re interested in ASPIRE. If you would like to find out more about what we do, have a one-to-one advice session or join the Business Start-Up Journey email and Rebecca will be able to advise you further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.