Upcoming events!

30th May: Enterprise and Entrepreneurship workshop
|
Sir Duncan Rice Library
| 13:30-15:00


Do you have an idea for a new product or business opportunity but not sure how to proceed? Are you interested in learning some tools you can use to develop your entrepreneurial mindset? Would you like to meet others and possibly form a team?

Barry Middleton from Opportunity North East will give an introduction to the right mindset and some practical tools to get you started, followed by an opportunity to meet other likeminded individuals and find out more about forthcoming taster sessions and formal programs to come later in the year.

Barry hails from Aberdeen and is a former RGU graduate who left Aberdeen 20 years ago. Since then Barry has worked in a range of companies from Global players such as financial gurus Ernst & Young to AIM listed Pharmaceutical companies, VC backed life sciences companies and start-ups. More recently Barry has been delivering LifeSciences business accelerator programs across Scotland, supporting over 100 opportunities in the past 3 years. Barry also has a PhD and an Executive MBA from Nottingham University.

Register for free HERE: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/coursebooking/5908/


1st June: Meet The Entrepreneurs
| ABVenture Zone, Macrobert Building, Room 830
| 13:00-14:00

The team at ABVenture Zone invites all PhD students at the university to check out our incubator space, grab a light bite to eat, and find out about how to get on a path towards success in entrepreneurship. We will give a short presentation on what’ve been up to so far, how we’ve benefitted and collaborated with postgrad students, and what the future has in store. You will also have the opportunity to network with some of our occupant entrepreneurs, some of whom recently got their PhDs and are now developing their bright ideas.


8th June: Marketing and Social Media workshop
| ABVenture Zone, Macrobert Building, Room 830
| 13:00-14:00

Are you keen to understand how to get more likes, followers, interactions and shares on your social media channels?

 

Then once you grow, how do you turn these fans into loyal customers?

These are the key questions the workshop will aim to address. We will be covering an overview of how to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, in addition to giving you the chance to work on your brand positioning, target audience profiling and social media content strategy.

An interactive workshop for those who want learn more about building their business online, smart ways of marketing, and the benefits of using social media. The workshop will help you to understand how to create an effective social media presence and select which channels are best suited to your target market. We will look at some “social media fails” and success stories, and we’ll think about how to best identify trends and adapt to them.

The workshop will have an engaging, interactive format and will include a presentation by Graceann Robertson, the Marketing Director at a fast-growing SME, EC-OG.

Whether your business is already up and running, or you’re just searching for that entrepreneurial spark, this workshop is a great opportunity to delve into the fast-paced world of marketing and explore the best ways of interacting with your market. See you there!


The smart way to map out your business model

The business model canvas — as opposed to the traditional, intricate business plan — helps budding businesses and established organisations alike. It allows you to conduct structured, tangible, and strategic conversations around new businesses or existing ones. Leading global companies like GE, Nestlé or Lego use the canvas to manage strategy or create new growth engines, while start-ups use it in their search for the right business model.

In fact, some insiders point out to the canvas as the key to Lego’s great turnaround story. Facing bankruptcy a few years ago, the company had to reinvent themselves and re-position their brand. The canvas allowed them to smartly map out the key challenges and helped come up with direct solutions, such as streamlining the manufacturing process and adapting the kits to the modern times.

The canvas’s main objective is to help companies move beyond product-centric thinking and towards business model thinking.
It is also increasingly popular in competitions, such as the upcoming 2017 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. (Keep an eye out on this blog to find out more soon!)

In summary, the canvas is incredibly useful because it lets you look at all nine building blocks of your business on one page. Here’s a sleek little video explaining it in more detail:

 

Push yourself to the limits at the Elevator Challenge

Hello again!

Our friends over at Elevator have just launched the applications for this year’s Elevator Challenge, which will take place between the 16th and the 18th of June. This weekend residential will test your team building and leadership skills and developed through participation in physical and mental activities. You’ll be tasked with problem-solving and idea development – using your communication skills and initiative to motivate yourself and team members through demanding and unfamiliar situations.
The aim is to get out of your comfort zone – as you often will be in business.

Setting up and developing a start-up often involves hurdles which you’ve never jumped before. It is, in a way, a leap into the unknown and comfort-zone-stretching can certainly help you build confidence and resilience.

What’s more, this residential is completely FREE to participate in. It is funded entirely by Elevator, including transport from Aberdeen to the outdoor centre in Aberfoyle, Trossachs.

Are you ready for a weekend of raft-building, abseiling, orienteering and pushing your boundaries in a friendly, supportive environment of like-minded individuals? Are you looking forward to the extensive programme of pitching workshops and mentoring sessions to develop your business skills and ideas?
If so, don’t delay and give the Elevator Challenge a go. Apply HERE now.

Meet The Entrepreneurs: #1

ABVenture Zone is home to some of the most exciting student start-ups in Scotland, and we are proud to provide them with the space to develop their ideas, move forward and make an impact.

We want to introduce you to some of our occupants and update you on what they’ve been up to. Let’s Meet the Entrepreneurs.


Jason Bamidele originates from Nigeria, where he got an MSc in Geology and had his first job in an IT firm which sold school management solutions. His entrepreneurial story began with visiting a school in a remote part of Nigeria, without any access to the internet. The firm felt like it shouldn’t be there and the experience was “very discouraging”. But Jason spotted an opportunity and had to get creative in order to figure out the fundamental challenges of geographical isolation. After a series of meetings, a local bank agreed to provide one-off funding to facilitate internet access.
That was a critical point that changed my life and my perspective on everything“, Jason says. “What I noticed was the enrolment in the school was massively shooting up, there were now many people who could access the school from everywhere. Before the applications were restricted by the geographical isolation and the lack of internet access“.
When he returned to that place after some time, more students had debit cards and new ATM machines were popping up around the campus. Eventually, businesses started springing up and providing sustainable internet access to the community.
It became a community thing and the community just started growing. Everything became better and more connected“, said Jason with a visible entrepreneurial spark in his eyes.

One of his main passions is driving transformative change by providing
technology.

“How much difference just a bit of technology makes to the people. If you make money on it, it’s just a bonus, but the feeling of being able to spark a change, transform a community – this is priceless.”


Making these positive, organic changes during his time with the company made him realise that this was the direction he wants to follow in life. This inspired him to start his own business, which he is currently in the stage of developing.

Naturally, business development doesn’t come without its challenges. Jason starkly admits that he “has seen how things can fail spectacularly“, but says that the good part of being an entrepreneur is learning lessons from everything, which really shapes the product or service you’re developing.

Perhaps the biggest challenge he had to face was realising that he couldn’t do it alone and that it’s essential to find the right group of people to work with. He warns that “if you’re not careful in the choice of business partner, they can drag you down in the wrong direction“. Eventually, Jason found someone whose goal and passion aren’t just profit, but also making an impact. This sense of impact has been really important to Jason, who often points out that money shouldn’t be the sole focus.

Jason heard about ABVenture Zone through word of mouth and decided to take a chance. “Sometimes it’s all by chance, but these chance meetings have resulted in something very meaningful for myself and this business“. We’re sure you’ll hear more exciting stuff from Jason in the near future!


Surakat Kudehinbu, the founder and CEO of E-LIT, says “the entrepreneurial path has always been attractive and I’ve always wanted to do something different“. E-LIT is a digital literacy company which is currently developing software equipping people with skills fit for the 21st century. His company seeks to “improve the quality of life of people by removing the barriers restricting them from partaking effectively in our rapidly growing digital world“.

He tells us that since his youth, he’s always had “a huge amount of ideas“. In fact, he had so many that he had to shortlist them and select those that were the most realistic.
During his time in Africa, he met a lot of people with very low levels of literacy, which came as a big shock to Surakat. He explains how it was “highly ineffective and unproductive when people working at universities didn’t have sufficient basic skills; literacy skills are definitely something we take for granted here“. Realising the barriers arising from the lack of basic skills, something he described as “a bit of a nuisance“, was one of the triggers for creating E-LIT.


“Today everything is becoming digital, and lack of digital literacy skills can make people fall behind.”


Surakat is currently at the stage of prototype development. It is a long and winding process, but he’s getting closer and closer to finalising it. He recently involved a person with computer science expertise, who has been highly helpful in developing the prototype.

Surakat is currently looking for a design intern to help take his exciting start-up to the next level. If you’re interested or know someone who might be, find out more here:
https://abdn.targetconnect.net/graduate/jobSearch.html?execution=e1s1

His list of successes is expanding, and one of these successes was reaching the final of the University Start-Up World Cup in Copenhagen. Surakat is full of bright ideas and motivation, and we’re convinced that his business will flourish.


Hamish Blythe is the founder of Twigd, a student-focused mobile phone network which gives users the chance to reduce their mobile bills by participating in surveys and interacting with tailored ads. Twigd was shortlisted and received hundreds of votes in Virgin’s VOOM competition for start-ups, and he’ll be hoping to achieve even more in upcoming competitions.

He is using the MVP to test the market and to see how many students would actually take part in the surveys and ads which from the commercial core of the enterprise. Having this research done will be greatly helpful to Hamish when he brings his idea to investors, as it gives the business a lot more credibility.

Hamish confidently outlines the next steps for Twigd – “when we launch the network, we will launch it nationwide, and we will engage those who took part in the MVP as brand ambassadors“. He already found one partial investor who is prepared to make a long-term investment, but he also states the scale of the challenge: “when we started, we realised that we need a lot more money than we thought we needed“.

Twigd are also looking at crowdfunding opportunities.


“The perk of crowdfunding is that you don’t give away too much equity and you can keep a clearer sense of direction”


We finished our lunchtime hangout by chatting with James Duncan from the Research & Innovation department at the University of Aberdeen. He emphasises that there are many opportunities for seed capital within the university, and that this money is readily available as a catalyst for start-ups. The university is always considering applications from student companies and the best way to access this money is to get out there, talk to people, forge connections and be bold with your ideas.

James also advises student entrepreneurs to look at collaborative project opportunities with staff. He concludes with some sentiments about ABVenture Zone.


“ABVZ was about giving a home to entrepreneurs but also enhancing these collaborative opportunities. Now it’s a lot smoother thanks to our convenient on-campus location”


Thanks for reading and look out for Meet The Entrepreneurs features coming soon! If you’re a student entrepreneur, a budding entrepreneur, or just someone who wants to talk business, we’re always happy to hear from you and conduct interviews. Get in touch with ABVenture Zone:

Navigating the digiverse, innovating in teams

Today we hosted the first in our series of themed interactive workshops and it was great to see some of you there. The theme of this event was digital enterprise and software development. We wanted to meander through the sometimes tricky paths of the digiverse and gain knowledge about the strategies, design, and processes involved.

fullsizerenderWe kicked off with a great talk by Dr Ernesto Compatangelo, coordinator of the MSc IT course and managing director of a software development spinout. His insights were helpful to those who would like to digitalise their start-ups or create new software from scratch. Dr Compatangelo emphasised the importance of meticulous testing and the need for a comprehensively planned design which is also realistic to implement.

The second part of the workshop was the informal, interactive element. We engaged the participants in a ‘speed innovating’ session, where we identified recent trends, emerging markets, and linked them to the local challenges in Aberdeen. The teams noticed the emergence of demand for local, ethically sourced produce and sustainable businesses. We also agreed that there’s a growing appetite to ‘make a difference’ and to put people in charge of their local decision-making.

This, we found, is at least partly linked to the rise in digital communication, which allows like-minded people to group together, find out more about products they consume and form effective campaigns. One of the main markets for start-ups today are the millennials, the large group of tech-savvy, environmentally-conscious young people who want to see more innovative ways of doing business.

fullsizerender-2At the end of our brainstorming and collective innovating, we came up with the rough idea of introducing ‘smart cycle lanes’ to Aberdeen.
This would tackle many of the local challenges which we identified: overcrowded roads, expensive public transport, perception of Aberdeen as ‘characterless’ and the ‘donut effect’, where large businesses and retailers increasingly move out of the city centre and into the suburbs.

The smart cycle lanes would be digitalised via a bespoke app, which would provide real-time information about cycling conditions, maps, integrate information about the local area and partner with local businesses. Not bad for a quickfire 20-minute speed innovating session!

We have more such events in the pipeline, and we strongly encourage undergraduates and aspiring changemakers to get involved in future workshops! They’re a great opportunity to learn some technical aspects of entrepreneurship, network with start-ups and come up with ideas in a vibrant, informal setting.


Make sure to follow us on Twitter to stay updated with future events, enterprise competitions and latest endeavours of our community of start-ups 🙂
https://twitter.com/ABVentureZone

And why not ‘like’ our brand new Facebook page as well?
https://www.facebook.com/abventurezone/

The revolution will be digitised. Come to our workshop.

Calling our entrepreneurs, budding entrepreneurs, innovators, problem-solvers, digital geeks!
On Wednesday (30th November) we will be hosting the first in our series of themed workshops, and we are kicking off with an interactive workshop about all things digital.

The event will be split into two parts. The first part will feature a talk by Dr Ernesto Compatangelo, who will bring his expertise in software development and business innovation. The remaining three talks will be given by Aberdeen entrepreneurs who all operate in and around the digital sector. We will hear the business stories of Hamish Blythe (Twigd), Surakat Kudehinbu (E-LIT) and Chris Burnett (SURGE Aberdeen).

The second part of the workshop will be all about innovating. We will split into a few teams (or pairs) on separate tables.
We will start with brainstorming and looking at the pre-prepared ‘inspiration deck’ with recent digital start-ups. The teams will identify elements that they think are inspiring and innovative, and look for opportunities to transfer these insights to a new start-up idea.
After that, we will identify a selection of recent trends and look at how they impact specific markets. Each cross-section between a trend & market will trigger new business ideas or new problems to solve.

The event will conclude with each team presenting their findings and an informal discussion about problems, solutions and business ideas.

Hopefully you can come along so we can innovate together!

Link to the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/938444442966464/

Mapping out the tea industry with different drivers
There will be no shortage of Post-its.

LaunchMe: accelerator with an impact

LaunchMe, a Big Lottery Fund initiative, aims to expand the social investment market in Scotland.


Seven Scottish social enterprises, ranging from a community shop in the Western Isles to soccer training and health education for children, went through a rigorous selection process to join the unique £825,000 business accelerator programme delivered by social enterprise development agency Firstport.

These people-powered social enterprises help to drive real change within their communities. Firstport works with these inspiring enterprises over a long time frame to help them find and secure the right investor to rapidly scale up their social and economic impact.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Social enterprises do tremendous work to help boost skills, confidence and innovation amongst our entrepreneurial businesses.

“The Scottish Government recognises the critical role the third sector plays in addressing issues of inequality and the needs of disadvantaged communities, and the contribution that the sector makes to Scotland’s economy.   We also firmly believe in a values-based approach to business where diverse business models, including co-operatives and social enterprise, contribute to increased productivity and wellbeing.

“Since 2014 we have seen LaunchMe encourage and support ambitious early stage social enterprises to attract new investors who will help them rapidly scale and grow their social and economic input.”

The 2015 LaunchMe businesses received a total of £130,000 in funding, as follows: Sylvia Douglas, MsMissMrs, Glasgow (£20,000); Josee Scott, Freedom Unlimited, Edinburgh (£20,000); Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite, Edinburgh/Glasgow (£20,000); Rachel DuBois, Hostel Hub, Alyth, Perthshire (£18,000); Dominic McNally, Future Soccer Stars, Stirling (£17,500); Reuben Chesters, Locavore, Glasgow (£17,500); Sarah MacLean, Buth Bharraigh, Barra (£17,000). And for many, this is only the beginning.
Firstport’s expertise in social enterprise development, as well as the exposure opportunities from LaunchMe pave the way for further investment.

Social enterprises based in remote locations, such as the Isle of Barra, often find it difficult to gain access to support, training and funding.
Sarah MacLean, director of Buth Bharraigh, said: “Getting onto LaunchMe will help us achieve our ambition by giving us access to excellent business and peer support”

“This opportunity will give us the support and confidence to move forward with our expansion plans. We want to provide our island with opportunities: a local produce hub that will inspire and have a positive effect on island sustainability.”


LaunchMe is now open for new applications and the deadline to apply is November the 28th. If you are an ambitious, early-stage social enterprise and you want to achieve scale and increase your impact, why not take a chance and apply?
It is the only programme of its kind in Scotland and has already helped dozens of social enterprises drive change in their communities. The programme’s wealth of expertise and access to funding can be the bridge between a great idea and a real success.

Find out more about LaunchMe and the application process:
http://www.firstport.org.uk/programmes/launchme

Apply here:
http://www.firstport.org.uk/programmes/launchme/apply-now

Good luck!