The launch of ASPIRE’s flagship programme

Business Start-Up Journey, took place on Wednesday 20 October at Sibson building.

Students and graduates from across the University gathered to learn more about the programme, share stories of starting their own business and learn about support available from the ASPIRE team.

The event started with a fun business quiz and an overview of the 15-week co-curricular programme, including a welcome from the ASPIRE’s team of Entrepreneurs in Residence. Then students heard from two inspiring business founders.

Graduate, Karen Ajuga, shared her story of founding Troozie, an innovation in the travel pillow. Karen, who studied Hispanic Studies and Business Administration, hit on the idea for her product during her year abroad in Spain, when she spent a lot of time travelling. She shared her experience of participating in the Business Start-Up Journey in 2019 and paid tribute to the mentoring she received from Daniel Rubin, founder of Dune London, for “opening my mind to so many possibilities”.

Karen, who reached the pitching finals, has been working on developing Troozie since graduation. The product is now in a final stage and she aims to launch it by the end of the year. After Karen’s inspirational story, current Kent Business School student, Giovanni Morgan, took the spotlight with his journey of founding MGX – jeans customising business. He took part in the Business Start-Up Journey as well as Self-Employed Year in Industry, and granted funding through ASPIRE’s links with Santander Universities. Giovanni, who is in his final year studying Marketing, founded his business in his first year at the University of Kent. He is now looking for a studio space to grow his business into new areas. Karen and Giovanni took questions from the audience who were keen to know about the realities of starting a business – from costs, finding suppliers and manufacturers to the challenges they faced during the pandemic.

Keynote speaker for the event was Shannie Mears, co-founder of leading creative agency, The Elephant Room, who spoke about her journey from training as a dancer, to an intern to entrepreneur. At the showcase after the event, students were able to browse vintage fashion brought in by Politics and International Relations student, Jesse Tomlinson, one of the founders of Kent Vintage Clothing.

The Business Start-Up Journey is a 15-week, co-curricular programme, taking students through the process of starting a business – from finding an idea to launch. It is designed in a form of fun, interactive and practical workshops, complemented by the chance to gain one-to-one support from the Entrepreneur in Residence and mentoring team.

To book your place at the sessions, click here.

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