From first ever Pitch to Finished Product: How ASPIRE Helped our Businesses to Succeed

Here, KBS ASPIRE students of past and present sum up what the initiative did for them and how it could help you, too…. 

ASPIRE launched in 2018 at its very own designated lab within our award-winning Sibson building and is open to students from all courses and academic backgrounds across the University of Kent. Its remit is simple – to help you to grow a business from concept to fruition. ASPIRE is the home of the Business Start-Up Journey, a 15-week programme run by Kent Business School that is designed to help students create and run successful businesses that ends in a Dragons Den style pitching competition. The centre also guides students through their Selfie Year.

Emay Enemokwu, a former BSc Accounting and Finance student launched Jehu-Cal in 2019 via the Business Start Up Journey. His brand has been featured in Vogue and he has collaborated with Nike.

“I started Jehu-cal during my first year of university when I joined the BSUJ programme. The BSUJ helped me to take Jehu-cal from a hobby to a business that has grown to the point where I now have my own accountant for it and employees.”

Business and Management student Lauren Portnall launched pet accessories business TigTumTails in 2020.

“During my Selfie year, the guys at ASPIRE got me through. They guided me through the complicated stuff – like legal issues and helped develop new creative ideas. Starting a business can be quite lonely and having a network who are there for you, was a huge help.”

Business and Management students Roshini Kaur and Uwais Mahmood launched milkshake brand, Docious, in 2021

“ASPIRE taught us about planning for a business, what credentials you need, things to get in place and most importantly – identifying a solution to a current problem in the market. We also met people from different corners of the globe, different courses, with different ideas – it was really inspiring.”

Economics student Mercy Adeniji won the 2021 Business Start Up Journey Awards with VeGate, a vegan food delivery service.

“The Business Start Up Journey enabled me to build a brand from idea to product, the support you receive is just amazing. Simply being part of the process was enough for me, but winning it has blown my mind.”

Business and Management student Naavyaa Ranjan launched vegan haircare brand Rganica in 2021

“At first, I saw the Business Start Up Journey as a social activity, a little bit of fun and good experience but soon a fire was ignited in me, and I realised I wanted to launch my own business one day. The support and advice from the team was so valuable. I launched my product Rganica and I pitched it at the Business Start Up Awards 2021 in March and while I didn’t win, I was incredibly proud to be a part of it.”

Lewis Squire, a former Business and Management student won The Business Start Up Awards 2020 with escape rooms concept, Reality Rooms.

“I joined the Business Start Up Journey in 2019 when I was in my first year. Having entrepreneurs on hand to support me along the way, I soon moved on from wanting to manage someone else’s business to developing a desire to launch a start-up. It taught me steps and processes of finding a business idea that will work.  Nowhere else will you learn how to formulate an idea and let it grow,”

Final year Marketing student Giovanni Morgan launched fashion label MGX Jeans during his Selfie Year, in 2020.

“I would advise anyone to take the Selfie Year or to utilise ASPIRE in other ways if you have a business idea. It might be difficult to transition straight into the workplace immediately and this really allows you to take it in your stride.”

Accounting and Finance student Nadia Simpson , also known as Ewura-esi launched her beauty brand Nadia Esi in 2020 as part of a Selfie Year. She was featured in several press publications, including Forbes.

“ASPIRE taught me to be independent, outgoing and to take up opportunities that I would have probably said no to if I was working in on a traditional placement. I was able to see this world from a different perspective.”

Alan Gurung (Philosophy and Politics BA), and his business partner John Arceno (Biology BSc) developed their Community Interest Company, WHYCampus, through Kent’s Business Start-Up Journey programme.

“ASPIRE is incredible and what makes it really special is the people that you get to meet. It’s a journey of 15 weeks where you try to transform your passion into a legitimate business that will influence people’s lives. You’re in a room with all these like-minded people who all want to see each other succeed.”

ASPIRE, the Accelerator Space for Innovation and Responsible Enterprise, helps current students and graduates from any course to launch their own business ideas.

The 15-week Business Start-Up Journey is an inspirational programme which brings student business start-up ideas to life. To book your place at any of our upcoming events email the ASPIRE Team here.

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