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Students put best foot forward with Business Bootcamp

 December 19, 2013 | Simon Jenkins

Twenty-four of the brightest, most entrepreneurial students at the University of Leeds have been put through their paces at the annual business Bootcamp run by the University’s business start-up service, Spark.

The Bootcamp’s two-day residential programme, held at Weetwood Hall on 16 and 17 December and delivered by sector experts, is designed to deliver an intensive grounding in finance, law, intellectual property, business planning and public relations to boost the students’ chances of success in their fledgling business ventures.

This year there are 15 Scholars – the largest number ever – representing 10 fledgling businesses, including a micro-brewery, an advice and exposure platform for young musicians, and a graphic design studio. The Scholars receive significant backing from University alumni including a package of business support and funding to help with business costs.

The Scholars were joined in Bootcamp by three undergraduate students, each of whom have been awarded Proof of Concept funding by Spark to support the very early stage development of their business ideas. Also at Bootcamp were six graduates studying for Master’s degrees in Enterprise.

Scholarship winners and business partners Andy Green (22) and Rob Conway (23) are both studying for a Master’s degree in Enterprise. Their business, Leeds Student Tours, offers cultural excursions around Yorkshire and beyond and is proving a particular hit with international students, keen to experience such regional treasures such as Grassington’s Christmas Festival. Their first trips have been sell-outs and more are planned. Andy says of the Bootcamp experience:

“It’s an intensive programme, but it’s been hugely beneficial. Bootcamp made us see the gaps in what we need to achieve our business growth ambitions. We’re already looking at expanding the model across other universities to run similar tours and it’s given us real insight into what we have to focus on to succeed.

“There’s a real feeling of community among everyone involved, from the professional advisers who pass on their wisdom, advice and contacts, to the former Scholarship winners who come back and share their own experiences and progress. We can’t wait to put all of this learning into practice in our business; it’s been fantastic.”

Kairen Skelley, Head of Business Start-up at Spark, says: “Year on year the judging panel feeds back how they’ve been blown away by the standard of the applications for these Scholarships and it gets harder each year to make our selection. We’re proud to be able to match this standard with a comprehensive package of support to help these young businesses on their way to success.”

Asad Ali, partner at Blacks Solicitors LLP in Leeds, specialises in corporate, media and commercial matters for SMEs and is part of Spark’s network of professional business supporters. Says Asad: “Having now worked with the Spark programme, its cohort and staff for several years now, I am always impressed by the sheer level of innovation and professionalism in their business propositions. The only thing I find more surprising is the breath-taking enthusiasm, dynamism and intelligence of the entrepreneurs themselves.”

For more information, please visit our Student Enterprise Package page, here.

Students put best foot forward with Business Bootcamp