This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week at the College’s University Centre. Staff, students and guests at London South East Colleges Bromley Campus have been giving reports of entrepreneurial fever reaching epidemic levels. An array of speakers have taken to our lecture theatre in the hope of spreading their infectious enthusiasm, insight and business acumen.
Amongst the speakers were tech industry entrepreneur Anish Bagga - CEO of Unitu, Consuela Plet - founder and CEO of Soba U drinks, Isatu Kamara - owner of Tutu’s Balloons, Event Décor and Catering, Rebecca Arthur - a solo gospel speaker and musician and the College’s very own David Warnes - Vice Principal for Innovation and Enterprise.
The week’s events kicked-off on Tuesday with a talk by Anish to a group of students from the Faculty of Business. He explained how he took inspiration from his own university dissertation to set up and develop his business. The London and Coventry-based enterprise known as Unitu is a simple but powerful online tool that gives students a voice and accelerates continuous improvement and quality of education in universities and colleges. His clients include UCL, Kings College London, Swansea University, London Business School and the University of Greenwich.
Anish shared the story of his journey to success and gave students lots of advice and tips for achieving their entrepreneurial ambitions. He told them: “I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur. It was while studying at university that I came up with the idea of creating a platform to enable staff and students to act collectively on students’ questions, ideas and issues in a more transparent, intuitive and representative manner. I wanted students’ voices to be heard and give staff the evidence to respond and take action quickly - improving overall student experience.”
He went on to tell them how he took professional advice, learning how to start up and run a business and market his product. He said: “You have to learn to walk before you can run and treat every challenge as a potential opportunity. Firstly, you should identify a ‘problem’ and then find a ‘solution’. Then you identify a suitable market for your solution and go in search of potential customers and clients. Along the way, you need to develop a range of essential character values such as vision, tenacity, flexibility, resourcefulness, discipline, courage, focus and the willingness to put in lots of hard work.”
On Wednesday, it was the turn of three current student entrepreneurs and practising business owners to take to the stage. They were Consuela, Isatu and Rebecca - all studying the Business Studies BSc Hons degree programme. They told the audience about how they had started and built their businesses over the years. Each had enrolled onto their course to extend their knowledge of the business sector and to use their newly acquired skills and principles learnt from strategy management, accounting, leadership, consumer behaviour and marketing modules to enhance their business and boost profits.
Consuela set up her non-alcoholic drinks manufacturing enterprise ‘SOBA U’ back in 2011. She started with an original recipe for ginger beer and now has it produced and bottled in York. She said: “I wanted to create a ‘high-end’ strong party drink product that is non-alcoholic. I fell in love with the drink when I was growing up in the Netherlands. My mum would make a huge batch for birthdays and Christmas and I took her original recipe and refined it further to produce a distinctive and ‘classy’ drink for adults.
“I am now working on new recipes to add to my product range and expand my business even further. I am very passionate about my ginger beer and have complete faith and belief in my product. This, along with a bit of grit and determination have enabled me to reach the levels of success I have so far. My message to anybody wanting to become an entrepreneur is - if you really want something - go for it!”
Isatu told of the long and unsociable hours she had to put into making her business pay. She said: “I started small and grew. I remembered the old saying ‘little drops of water make up the mighty ocean’. Each day you add more and more."
Rebecca, a music artist and motivational speaker has produced many songs over the years and has a following of over 700,000 followers on Youtube. She said: “You must always follow your ideas, dreams and passions. It is not easy out there, but there is always a way as long as you have self-belief.”
Curriculum Team Manager for the Faculty of Business, Alisha Nicholas was responsible for setting up this event in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week. This is celebrated across 160 countries to inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity. She said: “It has been a truly inspirational week for the students to hear from industry entrepreneurs and to provide a platform for our own students who are embarking on their business journey; I am very proud of them. I thank all those who attended and presented at the events, as they have ignited a passion in some of our other students to think and engage more in entrepreneurial activity. Students have been posting their feedback on the UnitU portal sharing how the events have impacted them.”
The event was brought to a close by David Warnes who told the audience about the many products and services to enable business start-up and the support available from the College, local authorities and other London-wide organisations. He said: “We can help to signpost you to get the right advice and guidance if you decide to ‘go it alone’ with a business idea. You must never be afraid to fail - some of the biggest names in business have had to undergo a string of failed enterprises before they can succeed. You will always learn by your mistakes and this will help you in the long-run.”
If you think you have what it takes to be successful in the world of business, management, law, accounting and finance, or have been thinking of studying at degree level, we’d like to hear from you. We have a great range of degree and professional level courses for you to choose from. Come along to one of our open events.