Real life Graduate Start-Ups
Since graduating from UWIC with a BA (Hons) degree in Events Management in July 2010 I have been working on a business plan, a website called Event Rater. I launched http://www.event-rater.com/ in Beta stage in April 2012. The Glee Club in Cardiff Bay is currently trialling the service and the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff will begin their trial from the end of August (starting with Michael McIntyre!). St David’s Hall will begin their trial from October onwards. The Breakin’ Out 2012 Festival in Abergavenny featuring headline act Tinchy Stryder will be trialling the service on 8th September 2012. I am currently in discussion with event management companies Mr Producer, Orchard Entertainment and S4C with regard to events they would like to target.
In January 2012 I commenced an MPhil (Postgraduate Research Degree) at Cardiff Met allowing me to research event evaluation, which will further aid me in improving and developing the Event Rater service and develop my own research skills. Upon completion I will receive financial support from the GO Wales Graduate Training and Development scheme.
In brief, the Event Rater service allows venue managers and event organisers to set their own rating criteria in order to gain ratings (out of 10) and feedback/comments from event-goers.
After submitting a business plan I was notified that I had been shortlisted as one of the top 4 business ideas for ‘Gorsedd Y Dreigiau 2012′ a competition similar to the Dragons’ Den television programme. The competition was run by Menter a Busnes together with the Welsh Government and in association with Telesgôp media company aimed at Welsh speakers. I was filmed by Telesgop for a two minute clip discussing my business idea and on August 8th at the Eisteddfod in the Vale of Glamorgan I was required to ‘pitch’ what I would do with the prize, should I win! The ‘Dragons’ then asked questions relating to the business plan. The ‘Dragons’ consisted of Elin Rhys (Telesgôp TV company, Swansea) Eryl Williams (Asbri Golf, Caerphilly, who is also a former student of UWIC, having graduated in Product Design some years ago) Janet Davies (Prysg translation company) and Carwyn Adams (Caws Cenarth and Saloni – last year’s winner).
The aim of the competition is to support exciting new business developments that have the potential to succeed and which demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Wales. This year there were two distinct prizes; the winning entry to receive £5,000 to help establish or develop the business idea as well as a prize of £2,000 for a young person/ people aged between 16 and 25 (who could also be eligible for the main prize).
The Dragons decided to share the prize as follows as they judged that the standard was so high:
£4,000 (main prize):
to a company called Red Pivot, Chepstow (extreme sports and custom made skateboards)
and £1,000 each to:
Event Rater, Cardiff (measuring customer satisfaction within the events industry)
A* Seren, Cardiff (educational tutoring agency and resources)
Wigwams Llanelidan, Rhuthin (wigwam accommodation)
The £1,000 I won at Gorsedd Y Dreigiau 2012 will go towards developing an Event Rater App and to launch a reward scheme which will allow event-goers to redeem points for tickets, merchandise and live entertainment vouchers.
Owain Hall & Gethyn Oxenham
The beginnings and development of Just 4 Support
Many of the write ups I have seen involve people discussing what they have gone on to achieve but often miss out the crucial failing and developments that go on to form part of the fabric that is the journey into self employment.
Myself and my business partner Gethyn Oxenham both met each other during our first few weeks of studying at Cardiff Met (UWIC). We both had a strong interest in developing business and also how our studies linked to real life. After numerous talks from local business people and lecturers we thought the best way to get our head around the concepts was to test them in the market place.
Our first business was The Soap House where we made bespoke cosmetics similar to Lush but tailored to fit the skin… OK … it does sound odd but we wanted an idea and walking through Cardiff City centre after a coffee we noticed that Lush had the smallest store, everything was on planks of wood, there was no packaging and it was packed full of people.
This business provided us with a good training ground for how to run a company from accounts to just making sure you turn a profit, as we started to develop the business we came into contact with companies who started asking us for other services that we had done for our own business and we started to see a market in providing business services and support. This then created the concept of Just 4 Support a company who becomes a conduit for small businesses ensuring that they are able to get the services they need in a central way which is becoming increasingly important in a digital world were most of the services they require are all linked in some way.
With the support of the university, our business grew in our third year, which we were using as test trading before we graduated. Upon graduation we incorporated at companies house and both became company directors within days of finishing, through the vital contacts at university we have secured a graduate bursary to help our business grow and expand, have been offered the opportunity of taking investment and have been asked to help in the development of future projects within the university.
We have even found that we have businesses coming to us and wanted to collaborate with us, one such example is Inventory 2 Invoice, a software development company which builds Manufacturing and Distribution software which rivals the likes of Mapex and Syspro. In fact we are now moving into the same office block to allow for even further collaboration as we provide further services to meet their needs.
Overall, I think what I am trying to say is the interesting bits of my journey into self-employment are formed around the before and hopefully the after. A few months have now passed I can tell you its not easy but I have a job, its not a job I’ve taken, it’s a job I’ve made and I have the harshest boss in the world … Myself …
I hope I will get to meet you at some point but if you want to say hi or even just have an update on my company drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.