Category Archives: Blog

Enterprise Ambassador Blog – Adam Dixon

We thought it might be interesting for our student ambassadors to reflect on their time here as Cardiff University students. What did they enjoy and did they take advantage of all the opportunities available to them? In this post, Adam Dixon tells us what advice he would give himself if he was starting university again.

When I was starting my first year of university, I did not work as hard as I should have. I missed many lectures and neglected my academic development. For example, I did not put many hours into my Finite Element Analysis (FEA) workshops. This was very foolish of me, as it wasn’t until my Industrial Placement until I realized the full potential of FEA and CAD in launching an enterprise. After working with programs such as AutoCAD and Solidworks on my placement, I became confident with the technology and started trading. I could have done this 2 years earlier if I put my head down and worked! I could have been trading at a higher level than I am currently.

 

This story illustrates a personal example of the sheer levels of opportunity that university provides. We are taught cutting edge material and have access to laboratories, workshops, fully stocked libraries and ample computer access. There are very few places outside of the university that can provide such a hot-bed for innovation and Entrepreneurialism. Many of us are involved in amazing projects during our third and fourth years, exposing us directly to potentially world breaking research.

 

Personal confidence plays a great role in the ability of people, as a more confident person is exposed to more opportunity. Therefore doing confidence building things such as expanding social networks, cooking from fresh ingredients at home, regular exercise (my next target!), and developing professional and academic skills have and will improve my confidence and get me out there more.

 

Therefore, I would advise myself (after giving myself a big kick in the rear):

  • Work hard and play hard – the process of working hard and achieving results is a snowballing motion of confidence building and self-improvement.
  • Develop your social network more – getting involved with more and more people strengthens the opportunity to make more friends and connections for the future.
  • Cook at home from fresh – cooking for yourself and friends using raw ingredients is a great way save money, eat healthily and relax. You can store excess food in the freezer for a fast microwave meal.
  • Keep a regular exercise regime – having lapsed for the last 4 years, I can definitely remember how great it felt to be fit and lean.
  • Always be on the lookout for opportunities – look at the Cardiff University message board, the Student Competitions website, maintain a presence on O-Desk and E-Lance and talk to Enterprise about any ideas (even naff ones like making musky home brew).

Guest Blogger – Grant Wilton, B2B IT Services

We always find it so inspiring to hear entrepreneurs talk about their experiences. Often running your own business is as much about a personal journey as it is about a business one! As part of our series of Guest Blogs, we’re asking inspiring entrepreneurs to tell us their stories. 

This week we hear from Grant Wilton, who started his own IT business after being made redundant. Grant will be talking at the Confessions of an Entrepreneur session, 6 pm until 8 pm, on the 30th of October, Room C.013 Sir Martin Evans. Book your place here

1.       Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came up with the idea for your business

I  was a regional IT Manager working for a large insurance company. I got made redundant at 40 and decided to start my own business. With a partner, we created an IT support business with the aim of providing Enterprise-level IT functions but for smaller businesses.

2.       Did you always see self-employment as a viable career option, or did you stumble upon it?

I was slightly forced into it, but needed the push of losing my job.

3.       What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in starting-up?

Learning to cope with the challenge of being self-employed and having to deal with all the issues and challenges which would normally be dealt with by “someone else” in a larger company.

4.       What has been the most exciting development in your business so far?

Being an employer and responsible for the livelihood of other people, while ensuring they do not feel as I did when I did when I worked for others.

5.       What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of running your own business?

Sounds corny, but doing a good job and running a happy company

6.       What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Make sure whatever you are doing is scalable. Be really careful when taking on staff; they can make or break the business…

Guest Blogger – Rachel Walker, Euphoria Show Choir

We always find it so inspiring to hear entrepreneurs talk about their experiences. Often running your own business is as much about a personal journey as it is about a business one! As part of our series of Guest Blogs, we’re asking inspiring entrepreneurs to tell us their stories.  

This week we are talking to Rachel Walker, founder of Euphoria Show Choir. Rachel is speaking as part of our guest speaker series, on Thursday the 9th of October 18:00-20:00, at the Large Shandon Lecture Theatre, 1.64 Main Building. For more information; click this link.

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1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came up with the idea for your business

After graduating from Cardiff University Music Department, I began teaching singing from my home. It started as a small business, but when I was invited into local secondary schools to teaching singing there too, my business gradually grew. I also set up a few vocal harmony groups, and composed songs.

When Glee first aired on British TV in 2010, many of my singing students mentioned how much they’d love to be in a show choir, but there weren’t any in our area of the country. Along with my colleagues Tina Kelly and Emma Mason, who are both dancers, we set up our own show choir.

2. Did you always see self-employment as a viable career option, or did you stumble upon it?

I always liked the idea of being my own boss, and working the hours I wanted. I love working in lots of different areas of music, so being self employed gave me the time to be creative and work with other musicians, dancers etc on a variety of different projects.

It was a very conscious decision to be self-employed. I wanted to be in charge of my own career, and keep pushing myself to achieve more

3. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in starting-up?

To begin with, in both my singing teaching practice and setting up Euphoria Show Choir, it’s difficult to build up interest in what you do. If people don’t know who you are, you aren’t gaining students from recommendations, so therefore it’s financially a bit tight. My best advice is to persevere, and keep publicising yourself and your business. Network as much as you can, and gradually people will begin to know you and your business.

4. What has been the most exciting development in your business so far?

I think that has to be when we performed in New York in the National Show Choir Championships of America. From a performance we gave as part of the Britain’s Got Talent winners, Spelbound, tour, we were talent spotted from the performance footage on Youtube, and were invited to New York! The performance there opened many doors for us as a choir, and for me as a composer, and director. From this performance, we have won multiple awards, and have been invited to perform in venues all over the world. I composed a song, Body On Mute, as one of the songs we performed in New York. This song has since won three awards, been performed on Sky TV, BBC radio, American Radio, Canadian TV and has been made the official anthem for Beat Bullying. The lyrics are even on a range of American Apparel t shirts!

Since New York, I have also been invited to judge many international show choir competitions. I am the only British musician to ever have done this, so it’s a real honour.

5. What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of running your own business?

Being your own boss is wonderful! It allows you to use all your talents and keep evolving your business into what you want. You also can’t blame anyone else if you don’t work hard enough, and have to keep going even when you don’t feel inspired. Running my own business is the most challenging but the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

6. What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

My best advice is to persevere, and keep publicising yourself and your business. Network as much as you can, and gradually people will begin to know you and your business.

Euphoria show choir began with only 6 members, but we kept advertising the choir, asked local radio stations if we could sing live on air, and before we knew it, the choir had grown to 20 talented singers and dancers. Since then, it has grown every year.

It’s also important to keep on top of advances and new information in your field. Be willing to keep learning.

Guest Blogger – James Hind, Founder and CEO of Carwow

We always find it so inspiring to hear entrepreneurs talk about their experiences. Often running your own business is as much about a personal journey as it is about a business one! As part of our series of Guest Blogs, we’re asking inspiring entrepreneurs to tell us their stories.  

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This week we spoke to James Hind, Founder and CEO of carwow, a comparison site for new car buyers. James tells us how he went from running his business from his kitchen table to leading a team of 16 employees.

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1.     Tell us about yourself and how you came up with the idea of carwow

I’m James Hind, co-founder & CEO of carwow. I started the business after graduating university. I’d always envisaged a career in finance but after a short stint interning at a finance company I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.

I guess it was always in the back of my mind that one day I wanted to start a business, and doing so straight out of uni is a good time to do so as you have little to no existing commitments.

A lot of my friends and family were asking me for advice on what car to buy, so we created a site that aggregated reviews from across the web to offer advice to prospective car buyers. Pretty soon our users were asking if we knew where they could buy a car from, so we built carwow, the UKs first & only comparison site for new car buying.

 

2.     Did you see self-employment as a viable career option after graduation or did you stumble upon it?

A bit of both to be honest. I studied finance and always figured I’d go into that, but at the same time I always wanted to run my own thing.

A summer internship at a finance company put me off that route, so I worked a ski season abroad while I assessed my options and just decided to jump in headfirst to running my own business.

 

3.     What’s the biggest challenge you have overcome in starting-up?

We’re trying to improve an industry that’s been doing business the same way for decades, so change can appear very alien to decision makers.

A big part of our business involves getting dealerships on board to offer our users a fair price and amazing customer service. In the early days it was very difficult getting dealers to sign up, it was a numbers game and a tough slog but eventually we got our first 3 dealers to sign up and then things started to pick up. Fast-forward 12 months and we work with almost 400 dealers across the UK and last month 5% of all new Volkswagen Golfs sold in the UK were sold via carwow.

 

4.     What has been the most exciting development in your business so far?  

In February we raised a substantial investment from some of the leading investors in Europe – the investors behind companies like LoveFilm, Betfair & Zoopla. That was a real turning point for the business, it allowed us to hire an awesome team and scale really quickly.

 

5.     What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of running your own business?

Just seeing it take off. We ran the business as a review aggregator for the first couple of years before turning it into a comparison site.

Since making that change we’ve seen unbelievable growth, scaling from zero to in excess of £10m worth of new cars sold each month. In our first 12 months of operation we’ve helped sell over £75m worth of cars and saved our customers over £9m.

It’s been an amazing experience to run something that’s growing so quickly, it’s weird to think that only 16 months ago I was running the business at my kitchen table, and now we have an office and 16 staff.

 

6.     What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Patience and perseverance. Starting a business is hard, things will change a lot and it’s unlikely you’ll end up building and scaling your original idea, it will evolve or even change entirely. We started out as a review aggregator and turned into a comparison site. It’s important that you’re patient, willing to accept change and never give up.

 

 

Universities Business Challenge

Hello everyone!

Hope your summer was great, and that you’re settling in ready for the year ahead. Hings are returning to normal in the Enterprise office, and we’re getting ready for some upcoming events.

If you’re looking for a way to get involved in Enterprise this year, then the Universities Business Challenge could be just the thing for you. It is the world’s longest established and most recognised simulation-based competitive challenge for undergraduates designed to develop employability and enterprise skills.

The UBC offers undergraduates within universities a unique opportunity to improve their knowledge of the business world, put theory into practice and develop their team-working, leadership and employability skills by participating in a team-based competitive challenge. The Challenge gives undergraduate students the opportunity to work as a board of directors of realistic, simulated companies, making all the critical business decisions that affect the company’s performance. The UBC simulations are varied and challenging – and range from manufacturing to service businesses to ensure a rounded learning experience.

This year, we’re holding UBC in 3 stages:

  1. Fill out an application form by 8th October
  2. Attend one of three Selection events; October 9th, October 10th and October 13th
  3. If successful at the selection event, go forward to the UBC and see how well you can do!

Interested in finding out more? Visit our UBC page today and fill out an application form – But remember, the deadline is 8th October!

If you have any queries about entering UBC, then email us on enterprise@cardiff.ac.uk

Total Immersion – Enterprise & Employability Module

A few months ago we mentioned the a brand new module coming to you from the Enterprise Team.

Total Immersion will be beginning this semester, with the first session taking place from the 29th September for a duration of 12 weeks. The module is aimed at developing and enhancing your enterprising traits and overall employability skills; in building on those core and soft skills every employer will be looking for.

The module itself is a 10 credit standalone module and one that is open to 1st and 2nd year students on certain degree programmes.  If you are interested in finding out more and enrolling, please take a look at the information below and get in touch with Jay Begum at BegumJ1@cardiff.ac.uk or just pop into our office at the Student Union.  

We will be running this module again in the spring semester and there will be more information to follow in due course.

NOTE:  List of eligible programmes can be found below.  This module only has 20 spaces so if you are interested, we recommend you enrol soon as it will be operating on a first come first serve basis. 

Programme Checklist

Total Immersion Brochure

Module Flyer for Freshers

 

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Idea to business in 10 quickie steps

For entrepreneurs, it is often easier to come up with a variety of ideas for new businesses and more difficult to actually implement those concepts. Ideas and businesses are often different, but most are likely to go through these phases.

1. Come up with an idea

2. Think it through

3. Get some feedback from those who know

4. Make necessary changes

5. Build your basic product/service

7. Test it out

8. Make adjustments again

6. Launch

9. Grow

10. Continually review your plan.

If you feel this is all easier said than done, you are not alone. We are here to help you at every step. If you are interested in enterprise, Cardiff University Enterprise can help you develop the skills you need to stand out from the crowd or successfully create your own business.

If you have an idea for a business or social enterprise and need help to develop it or someone to talk to about the next steps, Cardiff University Enterprise offers impartial information, guidance and advice to Cardiff University students, graduates and alumni on how to take an idea forward and take an existing business or social enterprise to the next level.

We offer 1-2-1 business drop in sessions with experienced advisers and an opportunity to ask sector experts questions about your business, business start-up & skills development workshops, a diary of distinguished entrepreneurial speakers, an annual ideas challenge, access to funds & developmental bursaries, and a FREE start up office premises to kick start your business.

If you would like speak to someone about exploring an idea or the support available to you, please get in touch with Iheanyi Ibe on enterprise@cardiff.ac.uk