The Business Start-Up Journey 2020-21

The Business Start-Up Journey is an inspirational programme which brings student business start-up ideas to life and develops your entrepreneurial skills. This 15-week co-curricular programme will provide you with a step-by-step guide to starting a business.

The focus on innovation will enhance your employability, giving you transferable skills to benefit you not only in setting up your own business but in securing a job and studying in your degree. You will learn how to assess risk, how to turn challenges into opportunities and develop leadership, communication, presentation and team-working skills. The Journey features practical, interactive group workshops, experience days at venues including the Design Museum in London and one-to-one advice sessions with our Entrepreneurs in Residence.

The programme welcomes all students from the University of Kent, with workshops at both the Canterbury and Medway campuses. As we navigate the Covid-19 situation, our plan is to offer blended learning, mixing virtual and face-to-face opportunities.

Key dates

Wednesday 21 October: Launch event  with keynote speaker Dr Mick Jackson, founder WildHearts – Business for Good

Be inspired at the launch of this year’s Business Start-Up Journey where we welcome serial entrepreneur, Dr Mick Jackson, founder of WildHearts, a multi-million-pound group created with the sole aim of using their profits to help humanity.

Backed by leading corporates and global business leaders, to date WildHearts has transformed over 1 million lives globally; from empowering women and girls in low-income countries through education and finance to providing free entrepreneurship training for young people across the UK, with their multi-award winning entrepreneurship training programme, Micro-Tyco.

At the launch, you will also hear from student entrepreneurs talking about founding their own businesses and learn more about the University’s flagship student start-up programme.

Dr Mick Jackson, founder of WildHearts

Saturday 24 October: Bootcamp 1 – The ideas hack

Dive into our ideas hack where you’ll work with other students to find ideas using the Sustainable Development Goals as inspiration.

Develop key skills using Design Thinking techniques that help you to fully understand what users want and how to unlock the innovation in your ideas.

Wednesday 28 October: Workshop 1 – Problem-solving for start-ups

The best businesses solve problems for their users or customers. In this interactive workshop, we learn together how to pull problems apart and see how our start-up can really make a difference in solving the world’s problems.

Wednesday 4 November: Workshop 2 – Spotting trends, using the market

Business success lies in studying emerging trends and learning how to use market information to stay ahead of the curve and spot the next big thing. In a 50-minute group challenge, develop a business proposition using market information and forecasts.

Workshop 3New technology, new ideas

What inspiration can new technologies provide us with when starting a business? How can we create sustainable start-ups using cutting edge apps and other tech?

Explore the opportunities of the circular economy to deliver innovation in your business and create a positive impact on the planet.

Workshop 4Who is your customer?

Learn how to build and use customer personas to refine your idea, define your marketing strategy and develop your business idea to meet your customers’ needs. In groups or individually, create a customer survey to generate feedback.

Wednesday 2 December: Workshop 5 – Creating a Prototype

Understand how to create a Minimum Viable Product to test your idea. In our 50-minute challenge, work in a group to take raw materials and create your own prototype.

Wednesday 9 December: Workshop 6 – Build your pop-up website

A simple website is a low-cost way to showcase your business idea and get feedback from users. In this hands-on workshop led by the Kent IT Consultancy (KITC) you’ll be guided through creating the perfect platform to test your ideas and reach your customers.

Wednesday 27 January: Workshop 7 – What can you learn from your competition

Analyse competition in your market to understand their strengths and weaknesses and uncover the innovation to differentiate your business.

Workshop 8 Build your marketing strategy

Understand how you can create compelling content using social media and other channels to reach your customers. Learn how to write a media release and create a video to showcase your business.

Wednesday 10 February: Workshop 9 – Google Masterclass: How to write for social media

Join the search engine giants to learn how to interact with your customers to promote your business online.

Followed by a practical session in which we implement the strategies to boost your start-up.

Wednesday 17 February: Workshop 10 – Know your start-up finance

How do you build to break-even and then profit?

Understand how to price your business, your start-up costs and cash flow.

Saturday 20 February: Bootcamp 2 – Building your business plan

In an in-depth practical workshop, you’ll be guided in how to put together a compelling business plan with the ASPIRE Business Model Canvas especially focussing on sustainability and inclusion.

Wednesday 24 February: Workshop 11 – What do investors want?

Have you got what it takes to walk into the dragons’ den? Find out what investors are looking for in start-up businesses and how to build an investible business.

Wednesday 10 March: Workshop 12 – Build your pitch

Learn which slides you need in your pitch deck to impress potential investors.

Create the perfect pitch telling a compelling story.

Saturday 13 March: Bootcamp 3 – Get pitch perfect

Learn the best tricks and tips for presenting an outstanding pitch to potential investors.

Build confidence in public speaking with fun games and exercises.

Wednesday 17 March: Workshop 14 – 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 24 March: Workshop 15 – 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 startup.

Create professional social media accounts to promote yourself and your business.

Wednesday 31 March: Pitching finals and showcase

Selected student 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.

For more information email ASPIRE@kent.ac.uk 

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