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Aston Enterprise - Case Studies

Aston Enterprise case studies
Aston has helped students and Graduates set up their own businesses, find out more below. 

  Beatfreaks


Aston Univ
ersity graduate Anisa Haghdadi, set up Beatfreeks as a youth engagement agency to provide consultancy services to companies and organisations wanting to better understand and engage young people and in doing so, create platforms for  young people to  develop their skills, networks  and confidence.

Anisa set up her first social enterprise at the age of 15 and was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to education and young people in the 20I3 Queen's Birthday Honours list. The British Empire Medal was reinstated in 2012 to recognise volunteers who make a real difference to their  communities.

Beatfreeks is a multi-award winning social enterprise, firmly rooted in Birmingham but with an expanding national reach, the company aims to pioneer new ways of engaging, empowering and developing people and spaces through a blend of creative arts, media, leadership training and enterprise.

Highlights include working with BBC IXtra on 'Scratchbeat' to bring national and local talent together to share a stage (which also saw local artists get national airplay), through to working with a group of young people passionate about mental health over  12 weeks to set up their  own  official social enterprise 'Ripple CIC.

Beatfreeks has grown exponentially since its first year in 2013.The business was awarded a place on the Un ltd Fast Growth programme, funded through the Millennium Awards Trust. Anisa received £20,000 and intensive support over 12 months to help scale-up her business.

Anisa praised all elements of the BSEEN programme. She particularly benefited from the financial support and access to networks to grow the business.

Anisa Haghdadi Achieve.

Beatfreeks are now looking forward to growing strategically and developing more national partnerships.

Class Careers  

Christos Orthodoxou, a graduate from Aston University. Set up Class Careers with a bold aim: to end inequality in careers education. The business connects employers to young people in school classrooms across the country. through live online workshops.

Focusing on school-leaver programmes and apprenticeships, Chris aims to raise awareness of the different career paths and opportunities available to young people as an alternative to university Research shows that with at least one meaningful encounter with an employer reduces the chance of individuals becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training), and Chris knows that this is the key to his business. 

By directly connecting young people with employers, he is able to facilitate meaningful chats and in turn, raise awareness and drive applications. He is currently working with Lloyds Banking Group and PwC, with previous clients including Sky, Pinsent Masons and M&S.

Since inception, Class Careers has won a number of awards, including Baldwin’s £I0,000 Kickstart Youth Entrepreneur Award, BSEEN Social Impact Award and SE 'Passion n' category from Social Enterprise West Midlands.

Over the next year; Chris aims to secure investment to support further growth and expansion. Currently a part of UN Ltd.’s Big Venture Challenge, he has support to scale The enterprise with matched funding of up to £I00,000. Chris will continue to expand his network to open up the Class Careers

Opportunity to higher numbers of schools and young people, and is grateful for the support he has received from BSEEN and various partners to turn this idea into reality.

Class Careers Award      

Codevate  

Sam Jones graduated from Aston University in 2013 with a degree in Computer Science. Whilst he was at university he worked for a company which was being piloted by the Engineering and Applied Sciences department; he really enjoyed working with the company and became friends with a fellow student who worked there called David Bennett. The two of them decided that they wanted to develop a similar business of their own.

Their business, launched in 2013 with the support of BSEEN and is a custom web application development company which engages with start -ups and SMEs in the West Midlands. The company enables clients to build software products and helps them to innovate in their respective sectors.

The BSEEN workshops;

It provided them with skill such as the ability to engage with people, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their team and learning how to market their business. BSEEN provided the business with a grant to buy the equipment necessary for testing their software in different environments. Sam felt that the most useful aspect of the support was the office space which BSEEN provided. He explained that this was because it was in an extremely convenient location.

Codevate have grown out of the incubation space and now rent their own office space at Birmingham Innovation Campus. The company has exceeded all financial growth projections set out in the 2014 - 15 business plan. In order to grow, the company needed more staff so that it could meet customer demands. They recruited a full time develop per earlier this year.

Codevate were selected to represent Aston University at the national Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards. Recently they were awarded the Most Progressed BSEEN Business at a Project Celebration event. They are currently expanding the core team and hope to start offering graduate apprenticeships and additional services such as IT support and a helpdesk.

Codevate Award

Meraki Sound  

MSc International Business graduate Victoria Masso is the founder and director of Meraki Sound that promotes high quality music and supports music industry professionals to network with their  clients. Victoria completed a BA in Sound Technology at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts before her MSc in International Business at Aston University.

She developed the business after realising companies and artists in the arts, entertainment and  broadcast  industry  wanting to  acquire music online are often left with poor quality recordings due to lack of professionalism and advice. Her business allows customers to match the client's project to the right music industry professional to produce high-quality audio content tailored  to  the client.

Victoria, originally from Venezuela, was sponsored by Aston University on a Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. Since its start up, the business now has a team of fourteen including Victoria hopes that Meraki continues to grow as a brand, ultimately achieving its goals in educating people on sound quality and providing their customers with high-end recordings.

'' It was thanks to them I started my own company. BSEEN offers office space, funding and mentoring - it has helped me with everything. You start with a week, learning everything you need to know about how to start. It's great: you’re in the same office as many entrepreneurs.You can ask questions to all of them as they've been through the same experience. ''


Meraki

         

PekaLife

Leigh Purnell graduated from Aston University with a degree in Technology and Enterprise Management. He had always wanted to set up a business and was inspired by electric vehicles and alternative transport to consider developing a product in the sustainable energy sector: After noticing the frustration that people experience when their phone batteries wear down extremely quickly and run out of charge Leigh decided to launch Petalite, which sells a quick charging external battery that customers are able to plug into their phone once it runs out of charge.

Through BSEEN, Leigh attended workshops, received free office space, secured a grant and received mentoring support. Leigh felt that his mentor really helped the business during the initial stages and was able to assist with any questions that he had relating to the start-up of the business.

Leigh said...

'' ...the office space '' BSEEN provided was extremely good......as it allowed them to store their hard ware and ensured hot desk space to work from. The business has since moved to a larger premises but Leigh feels that the office space provided by BSEEN really gave them a "launch pad."  Because Leigh was ho ping to market a physical product he found the legal workshop particularly useful as he was able to learn about the potential consequences of litigation and how to comply with legal standards. Leigh said “Aston University has a large network that I was able to    take advantage of whilst    receiving support from BSEEN."

Petalife

Virtalent 

Sam Wilson graduated from Aston University in 2014 with a degree in International Business and Spanish. Whilst at university, Sam and his course mate Ellie noticed that many of their contemporaries had a variety of skills but instead of utilising these, they would often be working in low skilled part-time jobs alongside their studies. Together; they decided to launch Virtalent which provides an affordable outsourcing service for small business owners and professionals by matching them with university students who have the required skills.

He thought it was great that the workshops were provided by external trainers who were experts in their fields.

Sam and Ellie received a grant which they used to build their first website, buy the software to build their task management and application portals and to purchase various vital resources such as Adobe creative suite, display banners, business stationery and an exhibition stand.

BSEEN also provided Sam and Ellie with a mentor whom they thought was "really beneficial" and that they learnt a lot from. Sam stated that BSEEN enabled them to cement their ideas and gave them confidence in what they were already doing.

Since launching the service Virtalent has helped more than 30 entrepreneurs to work smarter; not harder with their innovative and unique solution. Unlike other Virtual Assistant companies, clients can access a wide range of skills - anything from social media management to graphic design - and not just simple PA   support. Virtalent's client base include many smaller local companies in areas such as Edgbaston and the Jewellery Quarter; through to a Content Manager from Mozilla in Silicon

Valley and the board of the Marco Pierre White restaurant chain.

Virtalent is currently going through another round of investment and Sam hopes that they will be able to take on some new staff in the next six months.

Virtalent

Wiser

Wiser is a home for young people who dream big and expect more; an environment where creative meets recruitment to build and transform employer brands. 

Half creative, half recruitment; we have a reputation for excellence in the graduate, digital and sales markets. Our creatives innovate with design, web and film to capture what makes companies great. Our recruiters introduce the right people to set these companies apart. 

We partner with some of the world’s best brands like Just Eat, Worldpay, Sky Betting & Gaming, and Expedia. If you’re interested in working with us, for us, or against us, head to www.wearewiser.com

How did you get started?

When I was doing my placement, I realised that lots of employers were struggling to hire the right students and students were struggling to find their suitable employer/job.  

This problem resonated with me as I was going through the awful process of finding a job myself. I’ve always got very frustrated with wasted talent and generally, when young people don’t find the right role, they are often less engaged. This in turn results in them being less productive and not utilising their full potential. 

After we identified the problem, we drew out the idea for an employer quiz to make the market more transparent. At this point it was really the partners Ari and Omar who took the business from an idea to an office, it wouldn’t have got off the ground without them. 

We started to work On GradQuiz in November 2012 and by the end of the final year we had an investor lined up as well as gained interest from a large number of employers. 

Since then we have evolved from GradQuiz, launching Wiser in June 2013, expanding further into Wiser Elite, Wiser Graduates and Wiser Digital. Our in-house creative agency means that we can now offer graduate schemes, websites, films, social media…you name it, along with our recruitment.

How has your time at Aston helped you and your business? 

I was especially amazed by the amount of support we received from lecturers and the careers service. Mike Kennard and Laura Chamberlain to name a few.

Without their constant support we would not have been able to set up GradQuiz, and in turn, Wiser. Aston not only gave me strong academics but also without realising gave me the foundation of my professional network. Balancing my course alongside being the chairman of the hockey society meant I also learnt that performance and fun aren’t mutually exclusive.

How is the business going and how are you finding being an entrepreneur? 

Honestly, I’m happy. The business is growing at an incredible rate and I’m surrounded by people who not only surprise me with their abilities but also make me laugh on a daily basis. I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am in with the partners and team that I have; it doesn’t feel like work at all. This is also just the beginning for Wiser, we’ve doubled every year for the last three years and we have no intention on slowing down. Ask the question again in 5 years about how I’m finding being an entrepreneur when I’m bald and look 50.

Wiser - Fin

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