Start-up success for Cardiff Met graduates


Emily Gallagher (back)  Kat Howells (right) and  Gemma O’Hagan (front)

​Three recent graduates from Cardiff Met have been successful in gaining a place on the Simply Do Startup accelerated development programme for young entrepreneurs. Simply Do is a social enterprise which was created by Lee Sharma, a former employee of Cardiff Metropolitan University.

The six-month Simply Do Startup accelerated development programme has been designed to equip young entrepreneurs in Wales (aged 18-24) with the mind-set, knowledge and experience to plan, build and start successful ventures. The young entrepreneurs earn a salary of £1000 per month plus training and experience relevant to their business.

Kat Howells, Emily Gallagher and Gemma O'Hagan all graduated from Cardiff Met in 2013. Kat and Emily studied Events Management while Gemma studied Graphic Communication. The idea for Kat and Emily's business came while they were studying. Fed up with the lack of individuality in the high street fashion shops, they decided to create their own fashion label focussing on vintage, one-off pieces.

While studying for her degree Kat Howells completed an Enterprise project on the vintage clothing business. As part of her module, she presented this idea to a panel which included a guest representative from the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship. After this Kat and Emily engaged further with the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship including taking up the one-to-one business support on offer.

Kat commented: 'The support we had from the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship was really beneficial especially in terms of making us aware of opportunities available for funding. The one-to-one support really helped us to refine our business idea.'

Emily added: 'The team at the Centre for Student Entrepreneurship were the first people to give us confidence that we could actually start our own business. They helped us to realise that it's easy if you have an idea and there is support available. We really enjoy having the creative freedom to explore our own ideas.'

After graduating from University, Gemma O'Hagan moved back to her home in Northern Ireland and began working for a savings society. She was also producing some freelance graphic design work in her spare time. She quickly realised that she really enjoyed working for herself and that there was a market for her business. She decided to apply for the Simply Do Startup programme following a recommendation from her course lecturer Ian Weir. She commented:

'The best thing about working for myself is having control over my work and the job satisfaction which I don't think I would get working for somebody else.'

Simply Do's Founder and CEO Lee Sharma commented:

"Cardiff Metropolitan University is an entrepreneurial university producing entrepreneurial graduates. So it was no surprise that three of our pilot programme startups have come from Cardiff Met. They have impressed from very competitive interview stage right through the challenging start-up process."

The Centre for Student Entrepreneurship continues to support student and graduate start-ups by providing a range of events, workshops and funding opportunities as well as offering one-to-one guidance and support. The Centre's Entrepreneurship Education Manager Natasha Hashimi commented:

'We are always encouraged to see Cardiff Met entrepreneurs doing so well in their start-up journey. We look forward to working closely with Simply Do in the future and continuing to refer students to their programme while also supporting them here at Cardiff Met.'