Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship has recently run two week-long bootcamp events for current students and recent graduates to launch or scale up their businesses, enabling investment of over £19,000 in to new student start up businesses funded by Santander Universities.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University’s Llandaff Campus is a dedicated department which aims to inspire, enable and support entrepreneurship within the student cohort, and allow students to take their business from idea to reality via a series of workshops, mentoring and funding opportunities.
Countdown to Launch, now in its seventh year, provides entrepreneurial students with the opportunity to attend a week of essential business workshops with guest speakers from industry, culminating on the final day with a five minute business pitch to a panel of judges for a share of the available funding in support of taking their business to the next stage. For the first time this year, the event ran across both campuses, allowing over 40 students to take part in the programme and gain essential business tips and advice from the Centre for Entrepreneurship team, and the guest speakers.
This year’s key note speaker, Maria Leijerstam, became the first person in the world to cycle to the South Pole, confirming her place in the Guinness World Records. She also set the human powered speed record in 10 days 14 hours and 56 minutes for any coast to pole Antarctic expedition. As a motivational speaker and author, Maria now shares what it takes to achieve such feats and how she has managed to apply her expedition mind set into running her own business and meeting the challenges of being an entrepreneur.
Across the two weeks, we welcomed guest speakers to host various workshops including Paul Bailey of Wesley Clover and Alacrity, Social Media and Digital Marketing with Lunax Digital, business pitching with Julie Collins, psychologist Rebecca Chidley, and Technical Investment Director at Development Bank of Wales, Chris Griffiths.
The two weeks saw a wide array of business ideas from within all academic schools at the University, including sports coaching businesses, Ceramic and Fine Art freelancers, accountancy, complementary therapies, clothing ranges, and third sector businesses.
Handed the task of judging on the final pitching day were Tomas Barratt from Santander, Deri Green from High Level Software, Clojo Bedingham owner of Clojo Ruth Designs and former Countdown to Launch winner, Ali Mahoney of ithinksport, and Jayne Brown who runs an outdoor health and fitness company.
Santander Universities Relationships Manager for Wales and South West, Tomas Llewelyn Barrett, said, “Cardiff Met has a rich history of producing entrepreneurial talent, helping to nurture students’ ideas to become market-disrupting businesses.
“The competition pitches were of an incredibly high standard and I fully expect one or two of the entrepreneurs who participated to become household names of the future.
“Santander Universities is a proud partner to Cardiff Met and we look forward to following closely the growth of their businesses and supporting them on their journey.”
All participants of the Countdown to Launch programme will have follow up support from the Centre for Entrepreneurship, along with access to the Centre’s co-working space on Llandaff Campus which offers free desk space, wifi, business support and the opportunity to work alongside fellow student entrepreneurs on the same start up journey.
Student Emily Reed, owner of Faer Consulting which offers farming and agricultural communications support, said “I had an amazing week with the Centre for Entrepreneurship, which has been life changing and has given me the tools to start my communications business for rural businesses.
“I have been inspired by the team, speakers and fellow course members throughout the week, and made good connections with so many people.”
Steve Aicheler, Entrepreneurship Engagement manager at the Centre for Entrepreneurship commented, “Countdown to Launch is one of our highlight events of the year within the Centre, and this year has been no different. The professionalism and knowledge of the students throughout the week, but especially when pitching on the final day, has really showcased their abilities in becoming entrepreneurs. Opening the event up across both campuses has allowed us to engage with additional students, and support businesses in an increased variety of sectors.
"On behalf of the Centre, I would like to thank all guest speakers and judges who have supported us this week, as well as Santander Universities for funding the prize money to enable us to continue to support these startup companies.”
To read this story in Welsh, click here.