Winner Adebayo studied International Conflict and Security with Brussels School of International Studies which is part of the wider University of Kent. After graduating, she made use of entrepreneurial hub ASPIRE to help her to conceive a business idea and launch a start-up.
Here, she tells us how her relocation service business, Maze, was born.
When did you get involved in ASPIRE?
Interestingly, I didn’t know about the ASPIRE programme until much after my graduation. I discovered ASPIRE last year when I first conceived my business idea and decided to research University of Kent’s entrepreneurial programmes. I also found out about The Start-Up Visa, a one-off, two-year visa which would enable me to develop my businesses in the UK. I was eager to apply.
Have you always been entrepreneurial?
I’m a first time entrepreneur but come from a very entrepreneurial home, where half of the members of my family own or have owned a business in the past. I’m inspired by my dad who has successfully run his company of over 20 years. And personally, I’m self-motivated to make an impact and take on new challenges.
Did you develop Maze at ASPIRE?
I developed Maze with my business partners not necessarily at ASPIRE but with the support of the ASPIRE team. I was able to execute my business ideas thanks to the validation that the endorsement from the ASPIRE team provided. As much as I was confident about the idea and the business propositions, getting the Startup Visa endorsement was the seal of approval.
What was the idea and where did it come from? Why relocation services?
The idea was conceived from our own (my partners and I) experience of moving and settling abroad as international students. I schooled in Brussels where the language, renting, banking and transportation system was different. My cofounders have also had to navigate through a new life in the UK. As founders, we were inspired to create a solution we wish we had. The hurdles and the difficulties experienced when settling abroad is likened to moving in a Maze, hence where our company name originated from.
What were the best things about working with ASPIRE?
The ASPIRE team were so valuable in my Startup Visa Nomination. The team communicated the necessary information I needed to prepare my application and business plan. During my sessions with the Entrepreneur in Residence, Jon, he offered insightful feedback that helped me reassess important aspect of the business model and service delivery.
What was the toughest thing about developing your own business?
Some months have been a lot more rewarding than others and so I believe the worst part of this journey is realising that there’s a possibility of failure regardless of the efforts we put in. Prior to this time, I’ve always done 9-5, with defined tasks, so it’s been a challenge adjusting to a new routine and honing self-management skills.
What important lessons have you learned?
Working towards our first MVP and the launch really hit us with the first realisation- Running a business is a lot of work! I took on the task of marketing Maze to gain traction for the business and signups of early adopter which in itself was a bit of a learning curve for me.
One important lesson was to insure we were communicating with the potential users at different stages of the build. After we launched our website, we’ve discovered new areas in needs of refinement and so we continue to make improvements.
Any exciting moments that you can mention to us?
Maze got accepted as one of the 20 startups on the SuperTech pre-seed accelerator programme. With this came community, networking opportunities and the collaboration with Million Labs to build the prototype of our app. Our app is scheduled to be launched in the next two months on both mobile and web.
Maze recently emerged as a finalist at the Startup Awards National Series West Midlands for both the Graduate Startup award and Rising Star Award. The nominations came as a pleasant surprise.
Thanks to ASPIRE, Maze became a recipient of the Santander Enterprise Grant. This funding will go a long way in our business growth and I’m excited about that.
What would you say to anyone considering joining ASPIRE?
Be rest assured that you will receive expert support and encouragement you need to advance your ideas and business.
What’s next for you and Maze?
The Maze app is scheduled to launch in the next two months and we will be looking to test it with some users before it officially hit the stores. With the initial testing, we’ll be able to improve on features for a functional product. The app will be free to download on both Google play and App store by anyone seeking to move to the UK.
For more information on Maze. visit Maze | Relocate With Ease (trymaze.com)
ASPIRE, the Accelerator Space for Innovation and Responsible Enterprise helps students develop entrepreneurial skills and launch their own start ups.