When you become a student at the University, you will be entitled to so many different opportunities. This could include volunteering, entering competitions or joining a society. What I want to talk about is the Business Accelerator Start Up.
So – what is the Business Accelerator Start Up?
Well; it’s a grant of £1,500, along with office space and business coaching for students who want to start a business over their summer break. If you’re thinking ‘Whoa – not for me’, then don’t worry. You’re feeling exactly how I felt when I first read about it in an email from the University Careers Service.
How it all started
I am not in the least bit business orientated, and usually leave the room when Dragons Den or the Apprentice come on the TV. I find it stressful just watching! My degree programme is English and Related Literature – so not business related in the slightest. However; I had a friend, and we (like most great friendships) had an idea. One afternoon, I found myself with time on my hands, so filled out an application form.
When I got the email saying we’d won the grant, it was a huge shock . My friend (who, like me, doesn’t have a business bone in her body) was even more shocked when I rang her! It was amazing to think that someone had read our application, liked our idea, and decided we were worth investing in. It was such a confidence boost.
Everyone who received the grant had to go to two days worth of training at the start of summer. It was amazing to talk to other people about their ideas. My friend and I wanted to start an e-commerce website, which seemed like peanuts next to other people’s ideas (one person was looking into fish tank chemicals)! Despite this, I could feel myself growing in confidence as I spoke about our idea to different people.
The money we received went straight into the equipment we needed to produce our stock. It was such a relief to be able to start up without taking a personal financial hit. Without the grant, our idea would probably have remained an idea for that very reason. We also had freedom to experiment. Rather than going with the first and cheapest products, we could test out a few.
The highlight of the grant was definitely the business coaching. My coach was brilliant, and he was very knowledgeable about the industry. He helped break down seemingly huge, impossible tasks into the smaller steps we needed to take. We literally didn’t know anything at the start of the process. We didn’t even know what we didn’t know! But thanks to our coach, that feeling decreased over time. By the end of the summer, with the knowledge we had accumulated, we were very proud of what we had achieved.
Go for it
I highly recommend the Summer Accelerator grant. It was such a lift to receive investment and encouragement from the university in a field completely separate from my degree programme. I met some really great people, and my friend and I made real progress with our business plan. Most importantly – don’t be put off if you know nothing about business. I still feel that I don’t – but thanks to the grant I have one!