Amazing how conversations over a yogurt can generate so many innovative ideas. Thursday’s theme was GET CREATIVE / SELF-EMPLOYMENT and our workshop students were thinking about innovation and self-employment opportunities with the help of Gordon Macrae from Gripple.
Additional input came from present and past students who have set up their own businesses and social enterprises, with support from the University’s Research and Innovation Office (RIO), and from Hallam Union’s social enterprise award.
Attendees at the ‘Innovation workshop’ facilitated by Gordon were invited to eat a yogurt and explain some of the problems with the packaging, and then challenged to design a new yogurt concept for a large global company. Justine Lord and colleagues designed a yogurt for ‘Apple’ whilst Dan Garlick and colleagues designed a monster shaped Disney yogurt pot. Thomas and Lekan, students from the faculty of ACES said that they were attracted to the workshop as they’re interested in pursuing innovation in their future careers; biosciences student Cynthia said she’d really enjoyed the workshop as it was much more interactive than she had expected.
In the afternoon there was a chance to ‘meet the entrepreneurs’ – students who have set up their own business.
Jenny Pollock and Emma Shute, both MSc coaching and mentoring students, set up their ‘social minded business enterprise’ with a ‘Do It award’ from Hallam Union. Their business, ‘women to work’, supports women to return to work or to run their own business, after maternity leave or a career break. They focus on delivering workshops and coaching. Jenny spoke about the passion and motivation they needed to set up a business and overcome the hurdles they faced. She spoke of the importance of collaboration with others to support the business. Emma advised that confidence and belief are key to getting a business off the ground, together with their aim to help other women. Their website is being launched later this month and you can follow them on Twitter @womentoworkuk
Laurie Lewis set up her business, Brain Wizz Ltd, in her placement year, as part of a placement entrepreneurship scheme through RIO. Her business provides information and resources for Home Education and now for parents to support their child’s learning in school. During her placement scheme Laurie attended seminars, had support from a business advisor, access to specialist accountancy and legal advice and access to space and equipment in ‘The Hatchery’ at RIO, who also provided financial support in the form of a bursary and grant. She also had career mentoring support from someone who had set up a business. More details about Laurie and her story here.
George Law is a former graphic design student who initially worked with friends in a shop, developed a clothing label and printed designs on t-shirts. Now set up on his own as a freelance graphic designer, he likes “doodling and getting paid for it” as he told the students. Having been commissioned to brighten up the walls in the waiting room at the Children’s Hospital in Sheffield, he now he goes to London to doodle on office walls! He said that most of his contacts and business is generated through social media. “60% of my day is combing through social media to find people I can work for. I started from nothing and fear is a motivator, fear of not being paid!” You can check out George’s work here Www.getaloadageo.co.uk or follow him on Twitter @getaloadageo.
All in all a fun day at the Careers and Employability Centre, and our students left full of ideas, with the take home message that they can challenge existing markets and business models and the University is here to support them on that journey.