June 2022

Blog | Having your plate and eating it

By Killoran Wills

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Read time: approx 4 mins

There is so much more to uni life than essays, lectures and clubbing. Yes, I am talking (again) about those little nuggets of opportunities that may just pass you by if you are not careful.

This week I am focusing on the Enterprise Hive and the BSEEN programme. University College Birmingham seems to have more than its fair share of entrepreneurial students which is something to be proud of, and many of them have launched their business with BSEEN. Now I am hoping to follow in their footsteps.

After a one-to-one with Nethan Punj, lecturer in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, I was invited to deliver a six-minute presentation to see if I have what it takes to join the BSEEN programme. Six minutes seems a long time in many ways and a short time in others, but I was relieved to get everything I wanted to say within the time limit, and with 30 seconds to spare for questions.

I do cut corners though. A presentation pack was a crafty way of giving bags more information without taking up precious time. It included my business canvas which had taken a lot of effort and thought to put together, a storyboard proposal, concept brief and research findings.

So the allotted time was taken up with my pitch, a 60-second resume of my business idea which I tried to inject a little humour into, and a PowerPoint presentation. Now we have all experienced death by PowerPoint at some point and I am a great believer in as few slides as possible. Indeed, one of the best presentations I have seen involved just three slides. Mine had five slides, but one of those was the title page so I was quite happy with that.

University College Birmingham's Enterprise Hive provides a wide range of start-up support

I was also happy with the outcome – a place on the BSEEN bootcamp. It’s an intensive, week-long, 8.30-5pm programme with 80 other entrepreneurs from Aston University and Newman University. On day one you register your business, which makes sure you hit the ground running while other sessions include pitching and storytelling, digital marketing, business planning and finance. On completion there is further support for 12 months including mentoring and access to funding totalling £500. There is even free office space in Birmingham. As you can imagine, I can’t wait to get started.

With that in mind it was really interesting to talk through the business ideas presented by students as part of their course recently in McIntyre House. I was particularly drawn to Sohan Malla’s stand promoting edible plates. Now I have eaten soup out of hollowed-out bread rolls, but these actually looked like plates in a Birkenstock sandal kind of way.

Sohan explained that the inspiration for his plates came from his grandmother in Nepal where there is a tradition of making disposable plates from leaves. Surely it is the ultimate in bio-degradable tableware and a great way to avoid the washing up. The plates are also very beautiful, made in minutes and featherlight. I can feel a community enterprise in the making.

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