Category Archives: Blog

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.  

carwow-logo-large-87f2fa06486d1105f1e262c610e1a43d  

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.

 james-profile-2014-jpg

 

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

 

page01page01

 

 

 

 

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

 

Think Tank!

Hey Everyone!

I’m very excited as this is my first blog post as Enterprise Project Officer for Cardiff University Enterprise!! My name is Owen and I joined the team back in May. I’ll be coordinating the post-graduate enterprise programme this year. We’ve got lots of great events coming up and I really think this is going to be the best year for post-graduate enterprise ever.

I just wanted to share with you some details of an event, called Think Tank, that we are holding for the first time over two days on 12/08/14 and 13/08/14. I’m really looking forward to it and I hope after reading this you will too! Details are below and remember that you can get more information from me on BidderO@cardiff.ac.uk.

If you would like to participate, please follow this link for an application form; Think Tank Application. Application forms must be submitted to BidderO@cardiff.ac.uk by 5pm on Monday 28th of July 2014. This is so that participants can be allocated into teams that best suite their skills/area of study.

All the Best,

Owen

______________________________________________________________________________

Academic research staff often offer consultancy services to business and industry. This practice enables them to use their skills and expertise for the benefit of the economy and wider society and is a key strategy for delivering impact on their research efforts. The income generated from offering these services can be used to supplement their income or generate funds to meet research objectives. Enterprising researchers are commercially aware and have the capacity to connect with businesses. Commercial development skills are becoming increasingly important as more and more academic positions now request them.

Think Tank, which is being held on the 12th and 13th of August, aims to develop post-graduate enterprise skills over two days by encouraging students to engage with local businesses for mutual benefit. Students take the role of a consultancy team and are presented with a brief by a consultancy in their field. They must take a consultation with the business to establish what is required, use their unique skill set to produce a solution and present back during a final presentation. Throughout the two day event participants will be given valuable training in consultancy such as ideas generation, communication, winning work and much their time is worth as highly skilled professionals.

Think Tank can develop your consultancy competencies through working with real businesses. If you are looking to enhance your professional development, commercial awareness and meet likeminded professionals within your discipline, both within and outside of the university, then please contact Owen Bidder, BidderO@cardiff.ac.uk, for more information and to submit your application form. Application forms can be downloaded from here; Think Tank Application.

A new module on the horizon…

Total Immersion – Enterprise & Employability Skills is designed to help expand your skills set, make you more employable and aware of commercial & social enterprise through working on various ‘real life’ situations.

In the last few months the enterprise team has run workshops such as Save the Music & Save the High Street which have gone down a storm.  If you’re not familiar with either, both rotated around a fictional city which was experiencing some issues around the organisation of its major music festival and its failing high street.  Those that participated helped to come up with solutions by working on the live brief, sourcing relevant contacts, information and feeding back at the end to the Mayor of the city with their proposed plans.

With the success of both workshops, we have decided to go one step further.   The enterprise team is really happy to announce this exciting new standalone module which will be available to you from autumn ’14 and running under a similar interactive narrative.

If you like the sound of this, take a look at the brochure below and feel free to contact the enterprise team with any queries.

Note:  Not all programmes will allow standalone modules.  Contact for more information.

Total Immersion Brochure With Dates

Newsletter 16

Hello,

We are seeing less and less students on campus and that can only mean one thing: SUMMER! The Enterprise Team are preparing for a summer full of event planning. We are working hard to put together an event calendar for next year that will offer more hands-on, interesting and  insightful workshops, activities, guests speakers, challenges and competitions. We will be offering our annual events like Spark, Ignite and iSolve as well as some new and exciting ones. If you have any suggestions  about the type of activities we should run next year, please feel free to get in touch by responding to this email. We want to make sure that everything on offer is relevant and useful to Cardiff University students.

Certificate of Personal Development in Enterprise & Entrepreneurship

We are almost at the end of our event calendar and are now able to accurately calculate points accrued by each student and award certificates in Personal Development in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.  We will send out emails to the students who have qualified by noon on Friday 13 June with instructions on how to collect your certificate.  If you have any questions regarding the certificates please reply to this email.

Take My Junk: June 12 10:00-14:00, Woodville Pub.

A chance for students to buy, sell or trade items before leaving their accommodation for the summer. Take this opportunity to get a great deal on household essentials or to make a profit on your unwanted  goods.

Run in conjunction with Get it Out For Cardiff, the council will take anyway any un-sold items.  We are hoping to decrease the amount of waste sent to landfills this year.

If you don’t have anything to get rid of, please come along and try to snag a bargain.

To book your place visit: http://bit.ly/1o6FA60

Business Start-Up Week:

We’ve designed a four day intensive  programme  to get your business idea ready to take to market. Featuring a host of guest speakers, industry experts and hands on workshops, the week aims to the develop  the skills and knowledge you need to get your venture off the ground.  To apply visit: http://bit.ly/1sldqCa

1-2-1 mentoring

Remember that we are always here for a chat if you have a business idea or would like some advice on how to become self-employed (freelancing, websites etc). Pop into the SU and say

Kind regards,
Cardiff University Enterprise