- Course: MSc Enterprise
- Year of graduation: 2014
How did you hear about the Business School and why did you choose it?
Prior to undertaking MSc Enterprise, I completed BA Management (Industry) at the Business School. I had heard of the university's impressive reputation, of which the Business School was a particular feature, when I was at school.
As I had already spent four years at the Business School, I was fully aware of its high quality of staff and very much appreciated the way in which the programmes are crafted. The environment of the Business School is also very appealing, both in terms of the staff's approach to helping students and the general atmosphere.
What appealed to you about the course? What elements of the course inspired you?
For a number of years I have seen myself as a budding entrepreneur, so when I heard that Leeds University Business School were running an enterprise-focussed master's programme, I had to look into it. The balance of academia and practical application offered on the Enterprise programme created the perfect option in line with my career goals. The course looked varied and interesting with experienced lecturers both academically and as practitioners.
What was the best part of your studies here?
The best part of my studies here was definitely the abundance of opportunities in which to put theory into practice. Being able to set up and run a business alongside learning and critiquing theories around enterprise and entrepreneurship provided a unique and rather surreal experience whereby both activities were greatly beneficial.
We were also in the privileged position of being able to meet and learn from practicing entrepreneurs. Highlights from this included attending a dinner with the many Enterprise Ambassador's with whom Leeds Enterprise Centre is connected, working on projects and sessions ran by multi-millionaire Jack Romero, and meeting Lord Young (the PM's advisor on enterprise) during his time in Leeds.
The multitude of guest speakers and more personal interaction with entrepreneurs proved invaluable as a source of both inspiration and practical knowledge.
Tell us about the business you set up?
The business is called TourOutdoor and runs unique, guided excursions around Britain proving to be a particular hit with international students around Leeds, who see the tours as their only opportunity to experience and engage with real British culture and history.
I established TourOutdoor with a peer on the Enterprise programme. We had the idea to provide guided tours around hard-to-reach, largely-overlooked locations which, for a number of reasons, had been ignored by other travel providers, and two weeks later we sold out and ran our first tour. From there we visited a number of places, and our customer list kept growing!
What support did you get in setting up your business? How is the business going so far?
Each year, SPARK, the university's business start-up division, offers Enterprise Scholarships to students who have a workable idea and the commitment to back it up.
We applied and were awarded the scholarship - making us the first postgraduate students to receive this award. The scholarship, along with the Proof of Concept fund which we also received, provided both financial and practical assistance.
Would you recommend other students setting up their own business?
Absolutely. I'd imagine that the people taking the MSc Enterprise in particular are keen to takeover or contribute more heavily in the development of a family business, or are seeking to establish their own. As such, there is definite value in practicing entrepreneurship whilst at university. The support provided makes it a reasonably safe environment in which to test new ideas and really develop these skills, which have been proven to be of benefit even to those who go into employment.
Finally, establishing your own business put the theories into context. Rather than simply accepting models and research as true for other people, it granted the opportunity to relate it to your own endeavours.
What are you up to now?
Whilst doing the dissertation I pitched a business idea for a tech start-up (with a friend I met on a different course at uni) to a few angels, received a lot of advice but didn't get any money. So we're bootstrapping the business on the side and getting jobs in the meantime that will enable us to make the contacts necessary to build it.
Since handing in the dissertation I've done a little bit of consultancy based on the work I did for the dissertation, and worked with a social enterprise called Smart Aid (one of the founders did a talk at the University and we got chatting).
I have just started work in Berlin for a really cool tech start-up called Datapine. The job, which the Masters programme helped me get a LOT, is enabling me to live in different country (which has been an aim for a long time), but also to become embedded in a real tech/innovation hub that should mean my partner and I can build a team around us of technical wizards and people who can do really clever things in order to start building the software, whilst we can get on with finding and chatting with the investors that reside in places like Berlin. It was a very deliberate decision that the Masters programme has made pretty easy to pursue.