Tag Archives: University

Enterprise in the Community

Entrepreneurship doesn’t happen in isolation. Think about it, its true. So why do Universities think they can create entrepreneurs without developing a sustainable community around them. So what is best practice from universes in the UK?

Network of Entrepreneurs – Open the doors and get all who start and own businesses to bring their networks into the university and also get those startups to go out into the network of local entrepreneurs. This open door policy helps reduce costs but also helps foster stronger links between those starting a business and those who have strong businesses.

Mentors – The vast majority of entrepreneurs will mentor a student or graduate who is looking to start a business. However you should be provide training, support and knowledge enhancement for these mentors. How and what is mentoring, when should I do it and what should a say, how far can I go in forcing them to do something? Once you set the ground rules and provide clear guidance they are a great resource. Its about giving before taking.

Local Customer – A lot of startups think global sales without seeing that just outside the university there are thousand of customers. The fact is the global and local customer are the same distance from them, about a million miles. By bringing local customers to the university and the startups you build a customer base who will provide feedback, cash and support to these startup business.

Fail Safe – The majority of startups will fail within the first 2 years and the landing pad for this ride should be prepared. Allowing them to understanding the learnings from the business and develop a real knowledge base which can be applied to the next star up will help create better businesses in the future.

Connected Events – Co-sponsored events which student, entrepreneurs and business professional attend from around the city ensure that students get to understand the wider context of entrepreneurship and able to pitch and network with potential investors.

Business plan competitions , the benefits for all

The Business Plan Competition is one of the major tools for those institutions starting out with entrepreneurship as it provide a promotional platform for creating student awareness, real role models and institutional engagement. A large number of universities and colleges create an enterprise delivery strategy around this linchpin.  From this they can hang workshops such ideas creation, business skills and also more personalized services such as mentoring and accelerators.  


If it is done correctly it can generate a significant interest in the student population, local business and senior management, growing at an annual rate to ensure competitors from all facility or schools within the institution. A true win win!


So why should your institution run a business plan competition? 

Enterprise Ethos

There are very few projects within the university which develops the enterprise ethos of the institution. The business plan competition can be made to work with all academic departments, staff and students to ensure that the benefits of enterprise are understood in the context of the institution. This management tool requires careful development but will product results which will be lasting in changing the ethos.


The development of students out of the class room is important in ensuring they understand that a continual approach to learning in the work place should be adopted at every stage of their life. The process of learning, developing new skills and applying them to real world problems in a creative way is one every degree student has to learn. 

Celebration of enterprise

The awards event should be a celebration of enterprise whereby everyone associated with university enterprise, staff, researchers, students, businesses, By engaging the Vice Chancellor to deliver prizes and keynote speech you can ensure some level of support from others within the university. 

Skills Development 

Students will develop new skills through a competitive behavior and engaging in a number of pre-submission sessions. This ensures that a wider number of students gain experience whilst also increasing the competitions’  finalist ability. This is especially important when dealing with the expectations of sponsors and also ensuring that a sufficient story can be provided to the press. These role models are especially important when developing a sustainable competition. When we look at shell live wire, the press and PR exposure provided to the finalist has always been exceptional, ensuring the further development of the finalists businesses.

Student Role Models

Student peer development is an important learning pedagogy which ensures wide spread appeal when embedding enterprise  into the student mindset. A diversity of business types and annual growth of this growth is an important factor for a student when seeking reassurance for their entrepreneurial thinking and endeavors. 


It is important these role models are seen on event marketing collateral, made available during events and speak about their real life experiences. These experiences, should include The good, the bad and the ugly and should be demonstrated to the students that what ever life experiences come forward, its the learning from these that enables the entrepreneur to grow and succeed.

Business & Alumni Collaboration

It also brings in sponsors from businesses and more importantly alumni. These groups thrive on engaging students, their ideas and being part of the university culture. Once they get involved, they start to recruit students into their businesses, develop knowledge transfer partnership and take an active interest in the students and staff of the institution.


The competition will also create and should involve the institutions alumni of key role models for our student entrepreneurs. These groups of people make great judges, mentors, business coaches, sponsors and advisory board members which are so important in ensuring staff and students understand the needs of business and entrepreneurs.

Internal Collaboration

Opportunities for collaboration on a single project with a large number of internal stakeholders such as the student union, the incubator, university departments and external businesses is very rare at universities. One case study is from the Liverpool university which bases the competition out of the student union ensures the highest student engagement and also attendance at the finals. This engagement then ensures wider student perception of the competition and also from the widest demographics of students, from social sciences to biology. 

Staff Development

The process of running the competition provides a good opportunity for staff development, providing opportunities to run a project from start to completion within one academic year which brings in the skills of marketing, student engagement, mentoring and skills development. The metrics can be easily obtained and understood by all parties and thus ensures a great opportunity for staff.

Student & Enterprise Society Engagement

Using enterprise society for promotion and student engagement is one of the best ways to ensure student involvement and ownership, This ensures you develop a student led approach to the marketing and earlier stages engagement of the competitors which allows them to forms founder groups. There are numerous statistics which show that a team is more likely to win a business plan competition.


The vast majority, even the most success one will admit they would like to Increased business engagement, with students, with research, with course development, with CPD. The business plan competition is the first step in getting businesses on campus and meeting students, from here we can sell in all the other aspects of the university. So getting them to sponsor, attend or engage with a competitor is one the most critical parts of the universities business engagement strategy.


The key KPIs for a business plan competition should be:


  • The total number of student and graduate entries
  • The total number of students engaged on social media
  • The number of schools which enter
  • The total prize money available 
  • The business categories
  • The total hours of skills development
  • The total number of students having skills development
  • The number of businesses sponsoring
  • The total number of businesses attending the presentations
  • Increased student perception in enterprise



Not invented here!

Entrepreneurs are brilliant at looking at a problem and adding resources from various areas to create a solution. They don’t care where it was created and even who owns it, they just know they have a problem to solve. After reading the news papers this week, I see that Google has purchased Motorola for its patents and in another article, independent games developers are being sued by patent holders for providing in game links to buy more of their games. Entrepreneurs and software developers need the space to create new revenue models and opportunities, using everything that could possibly be available. Especially in a recession!

Many academics are the opposite, if there is a problem they must own this problem and solve it in pure independence, leading to potent disregard for other solutions. This has led to organisations that have not changed their business model, their internal structure or the products they provide, in cases for almost a thousand years. The opportunity to innovate this education industry is so much over due that new businesses are moving fast into the sector to take on these paralysed educators.

Again, this week in the papers the University of Buckingham achieves one of the best results in student satisfaction. This university is a private one, not government funded. It has a flexible four inductions per year, four ten week semesters, two and three year degrees and career focused courses which clearly its students love. This focus on customer satisfaction has made it look around the industry to find what works and how could we make it better.  It’s a good job that Oxford and Cambridge didn’t patent the courses they started almost a thousand years ago.

I am very interested in how industry sectors re-invent themselves, especially when faced with challenges based around an evolving business model or new technology. Within education, the use of remote course access and e-learning is the clear advance which will occur in the coming decade. We have seen the first generation, which as always is, take what you do and just make it digital. Now this hasn’t worked, filming a one hour lecture was never a good idea and only shows the lack of interaction certain tutors allow. However, we can start to see some amazing developments, using mixed media, learning styles and combinations of self and organised learning timetables being offered.

The business model will also change with more internationally franchised course offerings and introduction of loyalty price reductions (Foundation, Degree, Master, Doctorate), discount pricing strategies through enterprise or other types of engagement and sponsored places which just taken off with the introduction of higher fees. Universities will also start to develop less capital-intensive infra-structures and lower salary overheads. This will ensure a business model that is centred on a variable cost per student and not a fixed campus cost.

Only one thing in business should be assumed and that is things are always changing, this ensures the fittest are able to move with the market, developing new ways of surviving problems that their industry is presented. This is why Motorola was purchased, Nokia have moved to Second division and teamed with Microsoft. We will see how our university brands are able to adapt to our new world order, business model and delivery mechanism.

Entrepreneur E-Learning

Over the last two weeks I have been developing a new online service for Entrepreneurs, an eLearning site providing courses in Sales, Marketing and how to start a Business. Further course are planned in the Autumn 2011.

Entrepreneurs are amazing people, yet have certain traits that make them hard to work with. First of all they are time limited, by the very nature of starting a business and also very geographically diverse. Secondly, they tend to have very little money and I feel wrong in taking too much money from people who should be investing in their businesses. Thirdly, they tend to learn in different ways.

So we have designed these courses to fit their entrepreneurial needs…

The design of the courses ensures the pace of the course is dictated by the entrepreneur. The can take as long as they desire and also review, redevelop and re-understand the course element in the context of their business.

The core cost of running course is training, venues and organizing everyone and everything to be at the right location at the right time. ELearning allows us to have the course starting any time and always open. The entrepreneur also does not have to travel and therefore has more time to spend on their business.

One aspect we do lose with online course is the loss of the real face-to-face networking which is so important when learning, knowing there are others who have the same problems. This we will fix using LinkedIn.

One important lesson which the internet is very aware of, if content is free it has no value. Everything known to mankind is available on the internet, however it’s the application of knowledge is where value lies. As an entrepreneurs we understand this. The courses develop knowledge through the application of this knowledge, in an entrepreneurial way.

For many years I have know that there are three type of learning styles (Fleming’s VAK/VARK) model:

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Kinesthetic or Tactile

Kinaesthetic learning is a learning style in which learning takes place by the entrepreneur actually carrying out a physical activity. This means we have incorporated an element of developing their business in every course.

These courses are now in beta release and having our first set of beta-entrepreneurs from UK Universities through and if you would like to join then please email me.