The Business Start-Up Journey launched on Wednesday 23 October in Canterbury and Thursday 24 in Medway.
In Canterbury, the event was officially opened by Professor Philippe de Wilde, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation, who welcomed guests and spoke of the opportunities for students to engage in entrepreneurship and start-ups and in particular the chances to collaborate across campus.
Guests included the Cllr Ann Allen MBE who is Chairman of Kent County Council, Managing Director of Haag Streit UK, Dean Johnson and Stuart Tanton, director of the Kent Foundation – a charity supporting young people starting their own business in Kent.
A full lecture theatre heard from tech entrepreneur and leading blockchain expert, On Yavin, talking about his entrepreneurial journey, from founding a chain of snooker halls in his home country of Israel to investing in tech to his current obsession – blockchain and cryptocurrency.
His passionate talk on Wednesday 23 October was followed by a lively Q&A which continued after the keynote ended with students queuing up to talk to On about his experiences and views on blockchain.
Also at the launch, University of Kent students, Tomiwa Sosanya and Eve Bakiewicz spoke about founding their own companies, Do You Customs and Wordly, and the support received from the Business Start-Up Journey.
The following day, the Business Start-Up Journey (BSUJ) launched at the University’s Medway campus with a keynote speech by ASPIRE Investor in Residence, Karen Winton. She explained what investors are looking for in start-up businesses. The launch was followed by an ideas hack where students got to grips with the problem of food waste, suggesting start-up businesses which might tackle the problem.
The BSUJ is a co-curricular programme of interactive practical workshops open to students from any School or Faculty at the University of Kent, at any level of study from Stage 1 undergraduate to final year, postgraduate and PhD.
The Journey, which is part of the University’s Study Plus programme, takes students through the process of starting a business – from finding an idea, testing it, establishing finances and start-up costs, to pitching to investors.
Alongside the workshops, there is the chance for students to get one-to-one support from the ASPIRE Entrepreneurs in Residence who specialise in business, tech and investment.
At the end of the BSUJ, students can take part in a pitching competition with £1000 in prize money available to the winner to help start their business.
The Journey is a route into the Self-Employed Placement year (or Selfies programme, as it’s called) which allows students to take a year during their studies to run their own business.
As well as delivering practical help and support to students starting their own business, the BSUJ helps students to gain entrepreneurial skills and mindsets important in corporate careers – developing problem-solving skills, resilience, teamworking, leadership and communication skills.
For more information email ASPIRE@kent.ac.uk or register for the programme through SDS searching for the Business Start-Up Journey under ‘workshops’.