June 2017

Savvy students make their mark at BSEEN five-day employability boot camp hosted by UCB

Read time: approx 1 mins

Five ambitious students at UCB are joining a formidable group of young people from across Newman University, Birmingham City University and Aston University to take part in a five-day business boot camp at McIntyre House this week.

The camp, which is financed by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the BSEEN partnership, has been designed to give students the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to turn their dreams of owning their own businesses into reality. Lucky participants are given a personal mentor, a £500 grant and an intensive itinerary of workshops and networking events covering everything from conducting market research to managing competitors. On completion of the camp they will also get a working space dedicated exclusively to developing their businesses at either UCB, BCU or the Birmingham Innovation Campus, heralded as the leading location for Birmingham’s digital and tech communities.

We caught up with Kristaps Strauts, a first year Culinary Arts Management Student at UCB and BSEEN participant. Kristaps came to the UCB Enterprise Hive some months ago with a business idea that had come to him while working part-time at a pub in Edgbaston. With a little support, guidance and constructive criticism from the team, the student found himself here – on the cusp of founding his very own start-up.

“It’s been life-changing,” Kristaps said. “I came to the Enterprise Hive because I noticed a gap in the hospitality market and now here I am, receiving training and a grant to found my own business at 19 years old.”

The selection process at UCB was rigorous, requiring two interviews and a presentation in front of a panel to finally make the grade, but Kristaps believes all the effort was worth it in the end:

“It was quite daunting doing so many interviews but now I’m relishing learning about how real businesses work. What I was most looking forward to initially was simply having the chance to found a start-up, but this whole experience has taught me to value other things, like gaining my own personal mentor and learning from other students in the same boat, just as much.”

As part of his Culinary Arts Management degree, Kristaps has a fantastic placement at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in America next year. He plans to keep developing a blueprint for his business until his return.  While going away might have forced Kristaps to put his plans on temporary hold, it’s also motivated him to make sure the connections he makes at BSEEN are long-term, knowing how valuable it can be to have like-minded business owners on your side: “Some students pitched a great accounting system in a workshop today. I plan to keep in touch with them so I can get their help in a few years when both of our businesses are off the ground.”

As for his own business idea, Kristaps’ lips are tightly sealed. All he will tell us right now is that he hopes to have cornered the market!

Nethan Punj, Enterprise Advisor and Support Lecturer, added his own thoughts on what the boot camp means for students at UCB and beyond:

“BSEEN helps students from many different backgrounds and areas of study to kick-start their entrepreneurial careers. Bringing like-minded young people together to talk about their business ideas helps to foster a sense of community among them that could last years, and perhaps even be invested into future generations. It’s not enough just to make these students more employable – we want them to learn to become truly enterprising”

The boot camp takes place between 12-14 and 19-20 June. To find out more about how UCB can help you with your own business idea check out the Enterprise Hive here.

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