Fantastic February for freelancing DMU students!

After 3 months of planning and preparation, Freelance February shot by us in a flash and we’re now in March!

Freelance February was a month long initiative for DMU students and graduates interested in taking the route of self-employment. The month provided a wide range of activities and workshop to help up skill knowledge and prepare students for a self-employment journey.

Over 170 students attended the 18 events throughout February and we were delighted to welcome onto campus small businesses and alumni who shared their expertise in a range of areas including digital marketing, branding, intellectual property, funding plus much more – the list goes on!

The month kicked off with a fantastic session by Fred Brookes at Creative Leicestershire, a local business support service for creatives based within Leicestershire. Fred shared invaluable knowledge with students regarding freelancing and being self-employed.

Jon Foster, Director of creative design agency North Design Studio took students through the basics of branding and how vital your brand is when starting a business.

Midway through the month, we explored funding with Natwest Business Growth Enabler Gareth Howell. Gareth shared the different ways of funding a business with students and gave them an insight into business banking.

Prospect IP shared how to protect the intellectual property within a business idea and  we looked at how networking can be the key to finding freelance work with an interactive session which of course naturally included some networking.

It was great to welcome DMU Alumni Becky Boyd back to campus who delivered two Google Digital Garage sessions for the students, giving them a brief overview on how to get get stuck into digital and reach more customers online. The Google Garage is a free online course which provides lots of information and resources to help your business get savvy with digital.

Every session was a great chance for students to find out more  how to kick start that idea. The month ended with a 2 day boot camp delivered by our friends at the Princes Trust which took 14 students on a journey exploring legal structures, market research, marketing, finance and business plans!

Overall, all 18 events received really positive feedback and was a valuable initiative to all those that attended. We’re so grateful to our external partners who kindly came onto campus to deliver some of these sessions for us and we look forward to working with you again.

For more information about the Enterprise Team and how we can support enterprising DMU students and graduates, please visit our website.

Pitch2Win Champion Shares Top Pitching Tips

It was the finals for the Pitch2Win competition and I’d spent the whole afternoon practising with my friend, although I had no faith that I was going to win.

Firstly, what’s Pitch2Win? Pitch2Win gives students the opportunity to pitch their business idea to a panel with the chance to win £250 start up cash with the possibility of winning a further £1000 and be crowned the overall winner in a final awards ceremony in April. I had pitched in October and won the £250 and now I was in the final.

I turned up to the venue at the Innovation Centre on the Tuesday 26th April 2016, the final, and everyone was there, mingling. I wasn’t ready to mingle- I didn’t have business cards, I didn’t have an exhibition table, I hadn’t researched the people who was attending, I definitely was not ready. Then I found out I was going to be the first to pitch… this made me panic even more.

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I walked on stage and spoke about BeScience STEM, I didn’t talk ‘at’ the audience, I had more of a conversation with them, as though I was talking to my friends and family. I got so comfortable that I let a tear fall down my cheek. I felt very vulnerable, but my passion for BeScience STEM was taking over, I needed this money for our conference,STEMsocial. I was so sure that I hadn’t won, I felt as though I didn’t pitch properly, like it was very unprofessional. To be honest, I just wanted to hide under the table.

After everyone had finished pitching, the audience had to vote. During the announcement, it was completely silent in the room… ‘And the winner is….. [Long pause]…. Jessica Okoro- BeScience STEM…’

I sat in my seat startled; surely, they hadn’t just said I won. I messed up… I cried!

‘Jessica go up, you won’ my friend said… but I was still startled.

I walked up to the stage. I was handed the trophy, with tears racing down my face.

I’d won.

After that experience I’ve learned 3 things about pitching to a group of people I didn’t know…

1. It’s okay to show you emotion, it’s okay to show that you are really passionate. But talk with conviction, don’t let the audience doubt your idea.

2. Don’t ‘WING’ it, try and practice prior, have an idea of what you are going to say.

3. Have a conversation with your audience, let them know you. Don’t pretend to be someone else. No one likes that.

For more information about BeScience STEM, please visit their website.

Start-up Story: Auspicious Moments

We asked DMU Accounting and Finance student Khusboo Raja to share her experience as a Pitch2Win 2016 finalist and her top tips to other students considering starting-up.

Everyone dreams of their big fairy-tale day with the perfect venue, the perfect music and most importantly their perfect partner. But what we forget is the invitation to this perfect wedding must also be… well perfect.

‘Auspicious Moments’ is designed to add that exclusive touch to your auspicious day!  We pride ourselves in catering an array of invitation cards for the most memorable day of your life. Whether its chic elegance and bling you’re after or the more traditional type, with the finest craftsmen working on your precious invitation, we guarantee perfection and absolute satisfaction.

I have been in the creative industry ever since I was a child. I’ve created portraits and paintings, swiftly moved to the web designing industry part time to eventually getting my hands on a sewing machine where not only did I create my own outfits but then cat-walked my creations down various runways. I think it’s fair to say I’ve always have an artistic flare so when spotting a gap in the market that not only lets me be as creative as I want but allows me to make a profit – it was a no brainer!

I initially won my way to the finals of a regional competition held by a leading advisory firm PKF Cooper Parry as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015 where I battled my way to the finals and being the last girl standing, won! It was this win than encouraged me to enter Pitch2Win where all the staff were beyond amazing when it came to prepping me and offering support and guidance in their regarded areas.  

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Pitching at the Pitch2Win 2016 Final

The £250 I won from becoming a finalist really helped me to branch out and book various exhibitions to showcase my cards and rake in orders! Aside from the monetary help, the feedback from the judges was also incredibly helpful to re-plan and develop certain aspects of work further in my favour.

One of the main things I’ve learned is to never let go! There will always be obstacles along the way and you may not always win every venture you set out but it’s never the end!

I’m currently working with one of the top businessmen in the Midlands to construct a viable business plan and win myself a bigger chunk of finance to finally put all my mentoring to use on a larger scale and begin to exhibit worldwide!

One piece of advice I’d share: Believe in your idea!