Entrepreneurship stories

Be inspired by the journeys of entrepreneurs and guest speakers from our recent programmes and sessions, picking up tips and insights into the world of entrepreneurship.

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Pilot Pre-Accelerator Programme Fireside Chats

Tackling global challenges takes courage, innovation and entrepreneurship, alongside solid support systems and early risk sharers.

The University of Sheffield and 3B Impact delivered a pilot pre-accelerator programme in 2021 for entrepreneurs who have a vision for a brighter future.

As part of the programme, we introduced participants to entrepreneurs and practitioners to discuss experiences and learning through informal fireside chats.

Building an organisation

Founder and president of Muuvment, Zabi Yaqeen, shares his experiences of building a team and organisation from scratch.


The organisation

Muuvment is an ambitious online platform that gives users innovative tools to take action on issues they care about.

Based in the US, Canada, the UK and Bermuda, Muuvment combines curated social impact films with campaigns. These aim to encourage meaningful action and build partnerships that address the world's great challenges.


The entrepreneur

Zabi Yaqeen has a background as a commercial litigator and entertainment lawyer, but he also has a passion for writing. He produced and co-wrote the award-winning feature documentary film "The Price of Cheap", which tackles issues of modern slavery in the clothing supply chain.

We talked to Zabi to learn more about how he built his team. You can read what he had to say below.


Our discussion

1. Building a high-performing team

One of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs is deciding who to get on board to help grow your idea and build a successful business. The organisational structure of a start-up can be vital to its success, with 60% of new ventures failing due to problems with the team.

So, how do you build the right team with limited resources and the evolving needs of early-stage start-ups?

We put the question to Zabi Yaqeen, who has successfully taken Muuvment from an idea to a business operating across multiple countries, onboarding its first clients and securing well over USD three million of investment.

Versatility

"An entrepreneur needs to be versatile, or at least shouldn't be worried about taking on new things or trying new approaches. Over the years, I've been doing everything from video editing to sales, accounting and legal work. I even had to learn bookkeeping.

As we started raising money, we started bringing on more people. The profile of the people that joined us from the outset was pretty different from those we brought in three or four years later, where we are now.

Back then, there were a lot of people who could do a lot of different things. The intention then wasn't perfection, but we needed to bring a lot of things forward and needed people who were willing to take on a lot of different job types and not be embarrassed about failing."

Specialising

"Over time, we were able to bring on more experts, but there were also pitfalls. CVs don't tell you everything, so there was a lot of hit and miss. Now, we're in a place where the team is working well together.

At some point, what you've done to get things started is no longer good enough, and you have to take it to the next level. Some people are versatile enough to adapt, and others either can't focus their efforts, or just like doing multiple things and aren't really specialists."

2. Attracting the right people

Going from a small team with fluid roles to a more formalised organisation with specialist roles can be challenging. Even though the people you bring on board have the right skills and experience, it still might not work as you anticipated.

Difficulties when starting out

"[As a lawyer, I was used to working in] an adversarial system. People have opposing interests.

[At first], I thought that in the business world, especially in media and social impact, everyone would be holding hands and working together, and it would be a really nice and pleasant environment.

So, we were very naive in the beginning. When someone told us they could deliver on this or that, we took it at face value. [It didn't always work out, and] that was a really painful experience."

Dealing with a lack of resources

Start-ups need to bring in new people and different skillsets to grow the business, but they usually don't have that many resources early on. Zabi explained how he had managed that at Muuvment.

"We're all contractors until we raise a seed round, which gives you a couple of years of no-revenue runway.

All of the agreements, with a few exceptions, have a notice provision of two to four weeks, and the idea is that we're able to dial down our expenses if needed. So, that's one of the things that we have done.

We also track cash flow very closely monthly. But you have to take bets.

There are times when you think 'We really need help in this area', and you start a new initiative. Sometimes we've been right and sometimes we've been wrong.

We try to invest in areas where our core team don't have skills or experience."

The key to success

There can be many pitfalls for early-stage start-ups, and getting the right people on board can be crucial for success. We asked Zabi what he would have liked to have known before starting out as an entrepreneur.

"It sounds a bit trite, but your team is the most important thing. It definitely is.

Choosing your co-founders and c-suite very wisely is the most important decision. When you look at start-ups that fail, if something happens at that level, it could really collapse the organisation.

If, for example, there is a conflict between co-founders and they aren't able to resolve it, it could really hurt the company. It's a lot about coming from a place of enthusiasm and shared values."

Funding strategies

In the third session of our pilot pre-accelerator programme fireside chats, we delved into the topic of funding your business idea.

Start-up funding can be daunting for many entrepreneurs.

Our discussion featured a diverse and experienced panel. They focused on the key types of funding and when and how to target them.

Read a brief introduction to each panellist and some highlights from our talk about the pros and cons of different funding types:

Eva-Maria Dimitriadis: Managing Director, Conduit Connect

Charlotte Thompson: Knowledge Transfer Manager, KTN

Richa Bajpai: Senior Advisor, Creator Fund

Gareth Price: Director of Customer Experience, Start Up Loans at British Business Bank

Eva-Maria Dimitriadis: Managing Director, Conduit Connect

Previous roles

Before joining Conduit Connect, Eva was Chief Operating Officer (COO) at C5 Accelerate. There, she built and ran their global accelerator programme.

C5 incubated and invested in pre-series A tech start-ups using cloud technology for positive social change.

Before that, Eva spent a decade working in strategy, marketing and business development in the art market. This included supporting Christie's expansion into growth markets, such as the Middle East, India, China and Africa.

Current work

Conduit Connect sources and connects the most promising high-growth impact investing opportunities with mission-aligned investors.

As Managing Director, Eva has substantial insight into what impact-driven angel investors look for in scaling companies.

Eva is passionate about tech start-ups and social entrepreneurship.

She's the trustee of the Kay Mason Foundation, whose mission is to build South Africa's next generation of leaders.

She is also on the committee of the Audaces Foundation, which raises awareness about impact investing among next-generation leaders.

Insights

Eva shared her insights in the impact-driven angel investor community.

"In this area, investors are very purpose and mission-driven. So, this is where you get smart and strategic investment.

A lot of the investors in our ecosystem are looking to back entrepreneurs who they can add additional value to. So, if you're looking for advisors or board members [to help develop] your governance, these are the kind of people that can be really good at that.

They want a business that is going to have an impact. You know that when you're five years down the line, deciding whether to double your profits but reduce your impact, these are the people who will help you find solutions so you don't compromise on your path."


Charlotte Thompson: Knowledge Transfer Manager, KTN

Previous roles

Charlotte has a background in supporting innovation, including responsibility for Access to Funding and Finance at Knoweldge Transfer Network (KTN) from 2017–2020.

KTN brings together businesses, entrepreneurs, academics and funders to develop new products, processes and services, and access government grant funding.

Previously, Charlotte was part of the commercial team at Arvia Technology, taking it from lab scale to demonstration plant.

She's worked in business incubation, where she supported start-ups and small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) to scale.

Charlotte has a BSc in Economics and a Master of Enterprise degree from the University of Manchester. She's now based in Sheffield.

Current work

In August 2020, she took over as Knowledge Transfer Manager for Digital Economy at KTN.

In this role, she works with innovative companies to connect them to KTN's network of businesses, academics, funders and opportunities. She also supports KTN's Immerse UK and UK5G Innovation Networks and Innovate UK's Sustainable Innovation Fund.

Insights

"Grant funding can be ideal when you're in an early or risky stage of your business. As you decrease your risk, that can bring in private funding.

Grants are good for testing new relationships or bringing in partners at an earlier stage than you might have done otherwise.

They can also act as leverage. Grant funding is not always 100 per cent funded, but you can use that to de-risk certain parts of your project and then leverage that with private funding.

Grants will also lend credibility to your project, since getting a grant can act like a badge that can attract other types of investments."


Richa Bajpai: Senior Advisor, Creator Fund

Current work

Richa is a senior advisor at Creator Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund that invests in student founders in Europe.

She recently founded Campus Fund, which invests in student-led start-ups in India.

Richa also founded Goodera in 2014, a global technology platform for Corporate Social responsibility, Sustainability and Volunteering.

She was CEO from 2014–2019, and successfully raised USD 18 million in funding, including from Omidyar Network and angel investors.

Starting in India, Richa took Goodera global by expanding it to the US and Europe.

Richa's entrepreneurial and leaderships prowess has been recognised by

Forbes, in 30 under 30 Asia Vogue India, in Tribes of Cool: The Tech Crew Elle India, in 25 Game Changers MIT Technology Review, in Innovators under 35 India SmartCEO, in Startup 50, which recognises entrepreneurs who have built wonderful businesses that make their key stakeholders – customers, shareholders and employees – proud

There's a perception that getting into debt isn't a good thing, but loans can be an incredibly useful tool, especially when they're cheaper and less risky in terms of finance than, for example, equity. That’s probably when you would think of a loan.

They're also great for investing in assets where you can tie [the loan] to the lifetime of the asset.

When you have more debt, you have a lower equity base, whereas when you've got no legal obligation to pay dividends to shareholders, [investors] sometimes want a higher rate of return."


Insights

"Raising money from a venture capitalist is like getting into a marriage.

You have to be extra careful of who you raise money from. It's a long-term journey: you need to choose your partners wisely.

At the early stage, it's not so much about your valuation.

When you're raising early-stage funding, it's very important to bring in strategic investors who are ready to roll up their sleeves and work with you. Whoever you raise capital from, they should be willing to help you in the places where you need the most help.

It's very critical that you choose your partners wisely."


Gareth Price: Director of Customer Experience, Start Up Loans at British Business Bank

Current work

The Start Up Loans Company, part of the British Business Bank, is a UK government-backed programme that provides advice, loans and mentoring to start-up businesses.

Gareth Price is responsible for customer experience at the Start Up Loans Company.

  • He's worked in finance, supporting SME businesses for more than ten years, with mainstream banks and now the Start Up Loans Company.

Gareth has had a spectrum of roles, from working with entrepreneurs and businesses one-to-one, to exchange-to-exchange business customer experience engineering, specialising in digital and telephony.

Gareth is passionate about helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams and ambitions. He is an ambassador for diverse and inclusive finance markets.

Insights

"I think there's some trepidation around loans in the SME community.

Building a business

Turning a great innovation into a successful business is no small task. It's often an iterative process, requiring learning and validation to understand how to reach and win over potential markets. 

We had the pleasure of talking to Sanjay Parekh, a successful tech entrepreneur and University of Sheffield alumnus.

Sanjay discussed building a business from the ground up and what to be mindful of when setting out on your journey as an entrepreneur.


The entrepreneur

Sanjay is a successful tech entrepreneur, having co-founded and exited Webexpenses and Cocoon, and advised numerous start-ups.

He has also published a podcast, The Business of Meaning. This showcases inspirational entrepreneurs and business owners who are pursuing profits and purpose.

LinkedIn: parekhsanja


Our discussion

1. Using the Business Model Canvas

The Business Model Canvas (BMC) is an incredibly useful tool to help you turn an idea into a business. If you're an entrepreneur and haven't used the BMC, look it up now!

Sanjay gave practical examples of how he had used the BMC in his second business, Cocoon, comparing it to his first business, before the BMC concept had been created.

Speed

A key advantage is speed. Before the BMC, entrepreneurs were expected to develop business models that could be up to 20–25 pages long.

As a founder, time is one of your most valuable resources. The BMC helps you to focus on what matters.

"When you think about an early-stage business, you have so many disadvantages, but one of the advantages is that you can move quickly and make decisions quickly. If you have the tools and structures that allow you to do that, that compounds.

So, not taking two to three weeks to write a business plan is actually a big advantage."

Testing assumptions

Sanjay emphasised the importance of testing your assumptions.

"When you've documented everything in the [Business Canvas Model], next you should look at the biggest assumptions you're making in each section.

When you've done that, you should ask yourself 'How much risk is [each assumption] to the business model?'

Rank them as high, medium or low, and [prioritise] the things you should test: the high-risk assumptions."

2. Trying things out

Learning

Start-ups often talk about the need to "Fail fast and fail cheap". This means that you should try things out before too many of your resources have been committed.

Sanjay proposed a different take, emphasising the need to learn and that learning is not failing.

"The first thing about failure within a business is that the term is well understood, but it's almost the wrong term because it has so many negative connotations.

You're not actually failing. What you're doing is learning.

If you think about a child learning to walk and falling over, you're not thinking 'Oh, my child is failing at walking'. They're learning to walk."

Taking risks

Trying things out that don't work is an important part of developing a business, but you must learn from it. This should be planned and not accidental. Set out to learn.

"When you're deciding to try something out, your risk should be big enough that you learn something, but small enough that it doesn't blow up your business."

3. Finding your business's purpose

Customers, employees and investors are increasingly interested in a business's social purpose. They're not only thinking about how much money it makes, but what good it does.

The Business Model Canvas doesn't explicitly include purpose, but it can help you to think about how purpose and value are linked. This is something 3B Impact is passionate about, and that drives the University of Sheffield's pilot pre-accelerator programme entrepreneurs.

Starting out

We discussed with Sanjay what constitutes purpose and how you go about finding yours.

"The primary thing is being very clear about your values, mission and vision for the company.

I always start with those things in any company I've worked with, before we get into the business model. If they're clear to everybody, that's a very straightforward way of ensuring that purpose is at the core of your business."

Why it's important

Sanjay also highlighted the increasing importance of understanding purpose.

"There is definitely a movement, and we see this at the very top of the investment world.

The CEO of Black Rock, which is the largest asset manager in the world, sent out a letter in 2018 to their shareholders. This said that they're now changing the way they assess companies, focusing more on purpose and how those companies help sustain the world we live in.

[Purpose] opens you up to a wider investor base. It widens your consumer base, as consumers are looking for companies that serve more than just transactional needs. That's an ongoing trend."

Building a product

Jono West: Mobile Power

Power to the people – how a Sheffield company is bringing power to unserved communities in Africa.

The first of our fireside chats was with Jono West, founder of Mobile Power and University of Sheffield alumnus.

We heard about Mobile Power's journey, from being an idea in The Gambia to its first institutional equity raise earlier in the year. Jono also explored what it takes to develop a product and understand markets.

The organisation

In sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million mobile phone subscribers don't have electricity. They spend up to 20% of their income charging phones from generators and on batteries for lighting.

This alone represents an untapped $5.3bn/year market. That's before considering those with weak grids, or the potential for introducing electric vehicles in these markets.

Mobile Power, a UK-based tech company, delivers affordable, clean, solar energy to off-grid communities in Africa.

Existing off-grid solutions can only commercially reach the wealthiest 15%. Mobile Power's innovation can profitably reach over 90% of the market, while saving poor households 15% of their total income.

Jono got the idea for Mobile Power from his Gambian colleague while working in West Africa. His colleague told him that the only way to make power affordable for most of the market was

to charge no more than 25p per day to allow people to access it as infrequently as they wanted

They're piloting the first off-grid charged electric vehicles in West Africa and hope it will bring both cost savings and reduced pollution to drivers, travellers and tradespeople across the region.

Jono set out to do this and stuck to the challenge. This has enabled Mobile Power to succeed in markets where no one else has.


Our discussion

1. Building a team

We often hear that getting the right team together in a start-up is crucial for success. We asked Jono how he went about getting the right people on board in Mobile Power.

Bringing in the right people

In a former life, Jono was a bass player. Apparently, bass players are often the ones who bring bands together.

"I used to play in a lot of bands. I've formed a lot of bands and I'd always bring them together.

I've also done that with a lot of companies over the years – building teams.

It's about bringing in people who are better than you. Then you build that unit and work on those relationships, so you can work together for the next 10–20 years and build something great."

Having a shared commitment

Jono talked about the importance of trust in each other and a shared commitment. Achieving something that hasn't been done before can take longer than you think, so you need people that you want to work with.

"[First, I] brought together some tech guys to build a product.

We thought it would take six months. It's taken nine years, but we now have a mass-manufactured product rolling out in five African countries."

Local knowledge

Jono also highlighted the importance of having the right people on the ground when working in other countries: people with local knowledge, connections and understanding.

"It's finding the right team who [thrive in] those environments. We have 28 people working in the UK and Sierra Leone, and of course there are challenges with that every day.

We found some really great guys in Sierra Leone and now we have a fully local team. We couldn't do it without them."

2. Understanding the market

Mobile Power set out to understand their market, what they use power for and how much they pay.

They pitched their price point low enough that nearly anyone could afford to rent for one day to charge their phone and save 75% compared to paying to charge using a generator.

"We were established to try and find the most affordable solar product. We've always tried to go to the bottom of the pyramid.

There are so many inventions that come from the West that people don't take to, but the mobile phone blew that out of the water.

I was very focused on the off-grid mobile phone user and trying to get as much information from the African point of view [...] so we weren't just a bunch of white guys going in and doing something that doesn't serve what's actually needed."

3. Future plans

Mobile Power now has an established, profitable business in Sierra Leone and, supported by 3B Impact, has just raised £2 million to scale in Nigeria and Liberia.

But for Jono and Mobile Power, its daily battery packs are just the beginning.

They've developed a larger battery that can power freezers and light equipment, and a battery swap system for off-road motorbikes and autorickshaws.

Testimonials

I used to travel two hours each way to charge my phone. I only did it once a week.

Now, I can get a Mopo with no waiting time. I go most days and share it with my fellow workers. I've saved a huge amount of time and money.

How Mopo has helped workers

Musa, miner

My family rents one pack. We share the light for study between me and the younger children. Before Mopo, we couldn't study at night.

I also use the light for safety, especially when going to the toilet at night.

How Mopo has helped students

Roseline, student

Journey of Research Retold

Mihaela Gruia takes an innovative approach to complex academic ideas, communicating research effectively and accessibly to deliver increased social impact. Read her story.


The organisation

Each year, approximately £6 billion is invested in research in the UK (UKRI). Research Retold believes the fruits of that investment are under-utilised in decision-making, with academic research often facing a battle to be heard.

Why? Because those who need to implement research findings don't always understand the jargon, or how research applies to them and their day-to-day activity.

Research Retold has been solving this problem since its inception in November 2017.

Set up by Mihaela Gruia, a social sciences post-graduate of the University of Sheffield, Research Retold makes the complex comprehensible, turning lengthy and dense research reports into short, easily digestible and visual formats.


The entrepreneur

Website: Research Retold
Email: contact@researchretold.com
Twitter: @researchretold

Mihaela is the founder and director of Research Retold.

Some of her other work includes

being an Entrepreneur in Residence with Entrepreneurial Spark Powered by NatWest working with the New Entrepreneurs Foundation, where she won the David Pearl prize being a G7 Global Policy Analyst

Born in Bucharest, Mihaela has studied, lived and worked in Sheffield, London, Cape Town, San Francisco and Brussels. She now runs Research Retold from Leeds.

Mihaela has a first-class degree in Politics and International Relations with Employment Experience and a first-class MSc in Data Science from the University of Sheffield.


Our discussion

1. Mihaela's start-up journey

Mihaela's first degree at the University of Sheffield led her to the idea for Research Retold.

As part of her studies for a BA in Politics and International Relations with Employment, she spent a placement year working in Brussels for a public affairs communications business.

She experienced first-hand how useful graphic design could be in communicating complex ideas. Similarly, she saw how important it was to capture, distil and retell the essence of an idea.

The concept of Research Retold was born.

The StartUp weekend

In 2014, Mihaela returned to Sheffield and attended a StartUp weekend. After 48 hours, she was ready to pitch Research Retold as a business.

Mihaela didn't win, but one member of the audience was so impressed that he retained her, on a paid-for basis, to help him with his own research pitch to businesses in Hollywood.

"The StartUp Weekend was a great platform for me to test my idea and see if it could be viable in the real world. I'm so glad to have received support from the Enterprise Team at the University of Sheffield to make it happen."

Gaining skills and knowledge

Mihaela knew then that Research Retold had commercial viability, but to take the idea to the next level, she needed help with entrepreneurship and industry knowledge.

She therefore moved to London and was a cohort member of the 2015–2016 intake at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (now the Centre for Entrepreneurs). This consisted of a placement in a start-up, and bi-monthly training sessions to work on business ideas.

Mihaela's skills expanded and, in June 2016, she successfully pitched Research Retold at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation Pitch Day, winning the top prize of £3,000.

She also won a £10,000 merit scholarship for an MSc in Data Science at the University of Sheffield. She took this up to acquire the tools to expand the scope and breadth of Research Retold’s services into more technology-driven processes.

The business today

In November 2017, Mihaela launched Research Retold as a fully fledged business. Fast forward just three years, and Research Retold is a thriving venture that services multiple UK universities, as well as government and research organisations.

Research Retold interprets everything from policy briefs and visual summaries into infographics, illustrations, animations and interactive reports. In a world saturated with information, Research Retold makes sure that ideas have a tangible, positive effect on society.

2. Business impact

Research Retold currently collaborates with 15 UK universities and has worked on over 100 projects.

Mihaela and her team have also worked with

Public Health England Fairtrade International Foreign Commonwealth Office The Stabilisation Unit HM Government McMaster University, Canada WYG London

Research Retold makes sure that research is disseminated and acted upon. Examples include

research by the University of Warwick on the impact of Brexit on local businesses a scheme by Leeds City Council to tackle social isolation a project by the University of Birmingham focusing on social housing and wellbeing

3. Support along the way

Mihaela pays tribute to the various sources of support she's received, including help from

the University of Sheffield's Enterprise Hub
  • London's Centre for Entrepreneurs
  • the UK Steel Enterprise Y-Accelerator

The latter culminated in a pitch day in February 2017. Research Retold won the first prize and a £25,000 investment.

4. Key tips

Tips you can take away from Mihaela's journey with Research Retold:

Look for support within your community. Behind every entrepreneur is a village providing help, in both obvious and more intangible ways. Your university can provide physical space, workshops, networks, mentoring and advice. Get involved with everything it and its partners have to offer. Attend as many relevant events as you can. Thoroughly research your idea, and don't be afraid to experiment with finding the best way to get it across. Be flexible and adaptable, and don't be disheartened if setbacks happen – they're part of the journey.

"Research Retold wasn't the result of an 'Aha!' moment. Instead, it was me connecting disparate dots into a unique service that solved a genuine problem.

Having trained as a social scientist and data scientist, working in Brussels, I saw first-hand how researchers needed to be able to present their findings comprehensibly and in a user-friendly fashion.

Now, a few years later, Research Retold has grown and continues to help effect tangible societal changes for one simple reason: we make complex ideas easy to understand."

5. Future plans

Research Retold is already the approved supplier of 15 UK universities, including various members of Aspect. With plans to double its staff in 2021, the business aims to work with more UK universities as the year progresses.

International collaborations are also planned. Research Retold has worked with organisations in Germany and Canada, and it's looking to expand its global footprint.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an upsurge in online learning generally. Research Retold can benefit from this as a business, but with a commensurate, positive societal impact.

At the same time, the business can align even more with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 – to ensure "inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all".

I found it energising to work with Research Retold, and their tools and techniques were powerful.

Their storyboarding helped us to reach a person-centred approach for communicating information about social prescribing.

The comic strip unlocked rich conversation and deeper understanding. We gained great value from it.

Working with Research Retold

Helen Sims, Business Growth Manager, Voluntary Action Sheffield

 


Santander Universities Enterprise Summer Grant

The 2021 Enterprise Summer Grant programme provided 25 entrepreneurs with grants to support business continuation during the COVID pandemic

In partnership with Santander Universities, the University of Sheffield Entrepreneurship team recently coordinated the Enterprise Summer Grant programme. This has supported 25 local businesses set up by students, which presented solutions to challenges within social, economic, health and environmental sectors.

Grants of £1,000 were given to each business and utilised by entrepreneurs to support continued growth and development during the COVID-19 pandemic, including

  • product development
  • marketing
  • market research
  • platform and prototype development

Read more about some of our start-up projects and how they benefited from the grant:

April Parker: According to a Law Student

According to a Law Student is a blog developed by April Parker, producing visual infographics for law students on legal news and law firm insights.

These present legal information in a more inclusive and accessible way, helping students understand it by removing legal jargon.

The grant has allowed April to grow the blog's readership and hire six new content writers to develop new imagery.

Kacper Lodzinski: Quizify

Quizify is an app where children have to answer educational questions to unlock devices and launch entertainment apps.

This creates more opportunities for child development, and it also acts as a security measure so children only access age-appropriate apps.

The grant has allowed Kacper to complete code development, progressing from a prototype to a fully functioning app during the COVID pandemic.

We could afford to pay for some services, such as programming and logo design, which were a great boost to our pace of work.

Making progress with expert help

Kacper Lodzinski

Maged Musaeed: 3Miles

The COVID pandemic created an increased demand for food deliveries to customers' homes.

3Miles is a grocery delivery business that helps local and independent suppliers with online purchases and deliveries when they can't afford their own websites.

The platform has supported local businesses by allowing trade to continue during lockdown and encouraged those who were unable to leave their homes to purchase from local suppliers.

Maged used the grant to grow the business, hiring a new delivery driver and recruiting two new suppliers to the platform.

One of the biggest challenges was reaching people and making them aware of the service we offer...

To overcome this, we ran a huge advertisement campaign in Sheffield, and we managed to increase our customers by almost a quarter.

Getting the market share

Maged Musaeed

Yiran Feng: UV light disinfection device

Yiran Feng developed a device to respond to customers' increasing demand for products related to hygiene and cleanliness, particularly in small spaces such as vehicles.

Yiran was able to develop a portable prototype UV light disinfection device for public use. The grant has allowed the prototype to be sent to customers for market research, with further work planned to launch the product.

Using the grant, Yiran has approached potential business partners to support the product's introduction to the mainland China market.

The grant has come in handy because it enabled me to partner with researchers and manufacturers to make my idea into a working device. More importantly, the grant gave me confidence that my idea does have potential.

Development through collaboration

Yiran Feng

Keerthana Balamurugan: UCalm

The COVID pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have increased the need for easily accessible online mental health support.

UCalm by Keerthana Balamurugan unites Government and University mental health advice under one hub, to allow easier signposting to appropriate resources.

The grant allowed Keerthana to

  • launch the website
  • create a marketing campaign for the service
  • conduct research to assess the needs of student wellbeing and audit existing resources

The grant also allowed us to invest in a website that is professional and accessible to all not to mention be able to design our own social media ads through buying Adobe Creative Cloud.

Right tools for the job

Keerthana Balamurugan

 


Contact us

For more information on future opportunities, contact enterprise@sheffield.ac.uk.

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