I was lucky enough to be invited to the Graduate Entrepreneur Boot Camp a couple of weeks ago, where I met some of the most inspiring talent to have emerged from Universities throughout Yorkshire.
The University of Huddersfield was the venue for the 2016 event and, believe it or not, I was asked to be the keynote speaker! This was the latest in a series of sessions that I’ve spoken at over the past few months, but it was by far one of the most exciting.
My keynote speech addressed the topic of entrepreneurship, reflecting on what the word truly means. I’ve carried out workshops with 16-18 year olds recently to explore the definition, and I shared some of these findings on the day. I also showed delegates the drawings that these 16-18 year olds had created when asked to sketch the first entrepreneur that came into their heads. Time and again we saw illustrations of middle aged men wearing suits, but we all know that, in truth, an entrepreneur isn’t, and shouldn’t, be defined by age, gender, race, wealth, education, or any other demographic tick box. That was a key point I wanted to raise to these young people on the day.
The speech then went on to look at my own journey, something I am of course proud of but still feel a little bashful relaying to others. I tried to concentrate on my key learnings since entering the world of work, focusing of course on the challenges and opportunities that have arisen along the way since establishing Scriba 3 years ago.
A key theme throughout my talk was the importance of belief, a crucial ingredient, I believe, in the recipe for entrepreneurial success. It doesn’t matter about the robustness of a business plan or the careful calculations behind a risk assessment, if you don’t have the faith to get you through the occasionally difficult episodes that come with running your own business.
When the session was over, I had the honour of judging a series of 60 second pitches, which graduates had been given the chance to perfect during their Boot Camp week. I was, clichés aside, blown away by some of the ventures in the room. Some were fully fledged businesses, whilst others were promising start ups in their earliest stages – either way, the concepts were varied and the hunger was clear.
£1,000 was on offer to the winner, as well as two prizes for two runners up. However, the judging was such a close call, that the event organisers kindly agreed to offer a fourth, last minute prize to another lucky grad.
Because I was so impressed with what I saw on the day, I’ve invited the prize winners to share a brief insight into their businesses. You can find out more about them below:
“EatFishDesign bridges the gap between the technical and beautiful. The company is a design consultancy that specifically works with small technical or medical companies.
Small companies face the problem of successfully communicating to their final audience; this can lead to miscommunication or undervaluing of their business. As product designers, with a background in engineering, we have the experience to condense highly technical information in a visually engaging way.”
Joint 2nd place:
“Lean In Media Ltd will use my 4 years’ experience of working as a movie and documentary buyer in China to provide consultancy to international film producers and distributors looking to sell their programmes to the Chinese market.
Using my extensive industry contacts, Lean In Media will review clients’ programmes and tailor these to pitch to different Chinese customers, offering licensing negotiation support and Chinese subtitles so that our clients can sell their programmes to multiple buyers instead of having to license them exclusively to a single customer.”
“FlatMatch is a social platform, which specialises in finding an ideal person/persons to live with, in your preferred location and renting budget. Finding new people to live with is always a time-consuming process, FlatMatch’s enhanced searching method will simplify this process. Finding you suitable matches allowing you to get back to what matters most.
Living with new flatmates is very much comparable to dipping your hand into a box of chocolates. You can never be sure what chocolate you will pick and you do not know what chocolate you will like. Students, graduates and young professionals in cities like Leeds, Manchester and London all face the risk of house-sharing with people that they are unfamiliar with. Our enhanced searching algorithm can ensure we take out the bad chocolates in the box and leave our customers with like-minded people who share the same values and interests.”
“My name is Jen, and my handmade jewellery company ‘Minimalist Me Designs’ offers affordable, elegant pieces for everyday wear.
My Morse Mode Collection uses the age old telecommunications system of morse code, to design unique gifts with meaning and sentiment. So if you are looking for that quirky customisable gift or treat for yourself, then check out my Etsy shop to see what you could create!”
Offering some concluding thoughts, Nicola Walker, enterprise coordinator from The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Centre in Huddersfield and someone who played a key role in organising this year’s Boot Camp, kindly said: “As always, it was a pleasure to welcome Katie back to the University. Her story is inspiring and the Boot Camp delegates were truly exhilarated by Katie’s enterprise journey. We were proud to have Katie on the judging panel and although I’m sure we will see her before, we look forward to hearing Katie speak on our Question Time panel in March 2017”.
I’d like to extend my congratulations to everyone involved, and say how grateful I am, once again, to have been a part of this special event.