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.
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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.
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!
If there’s one thing that students love to do, it’s socialize. However, there is a distinct lack of platforms for students to communicate on. At the beginning of a meeting, I briefly discuss this issue, following up with the solution: UniYap. UniYap’s features include channels and instant messaging that are likeable to group chats dedicated to societies, courses, sports team etc.
I am not new to the entrepreneurial space. Over the last year, I have been building an app-based business called BackTracker. With my trips between Leicester and London, my meetings with accelerators and venture capitalists, it’s safe to say that I have seen the ups and downs. I taught myself to program iOS apps which kicked this all off. As a result, I spent a lot of time on the technical side – when it comes to business and marketing aspects for UniYap, I have fully utilized the enterprise team and the space around the city.
With a total of £500 won at Pitch2Win, from a monthly win and a runner-up in the finals, you would be surprised how far that can go. This has enabled all the technical aspects which cost to get up and running along, with setting out a marketing budget. All of this would not be possible without the money. Not only monetary value was taken away from Pitch2Win, most importantly, it was the connections I made with other contestants. I also received guidance and support from the enterprise team at DMU – something you can’t put a price on.
Runners-up with David Howard from Sir Thomas White Loans Charity
Joint runners-up Dominic and Mohamed
Dominic pitching at Pitch2Win 2016
Going forward, I am going to follow what is known as the LEAN model. This is where I make the basic functioning product and gain data to validate my ideas from getting new users on board. With my sights firmly set on Leicester, the plan is to get every Leicester student to use the product and expand nationally with that data.
The one thing that has stuck with me after only a short journey on the entrepreneurial road is that you can’t do it alone. Hold on to the people you meet and go out of your way to meet the rest. If I was to talk with someone starting their journey now, I would explain that someone has done this before you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You may fail along the way, but that just makes the win all that much better.
Caroline Stillman graduated from DMU in July 2015 with a degree in Footwear Design and an ambition to start her own luxury shoe brand Carobella. After struggling most of her life finding fashionable shoes to fit, Caroline was inspired to start a luxury brand which specialises in larger shoe sizes for women, designing gorgeous and fashionable shoes that she wouldn’t usually be able to purchase or wear.
Standing at 6ft4 without any heels and with a shoe size of 10 or 11 as a result of an inherited chromosomal disorder. Caroline has had to rebuild her confidence after being bullied throughout her time at school.