Week Ten

Enter the Dragon! This week was all about Doug Richard’s From The Dragon’s Mouth all day workshop held in the Great Hall on the Friday. Packed with out will around 100 students that signed up for the Guild’s lead event for their new entrepreneurial program Ignite Doug’s talk was first class. Taking students through the 10 questions that you need to ask yourself when setting up a business Doug analysed the students business ideas as we went making for an entertaining, if not a little daunting afternoon!

Here are the 10 questions Doug set – can you answer them for your business idea?

1. What do we do that people need or want? Are you solving a problem or addressing a need?
2. Who is our customer? Try to be as specific as you can…
3. How do customers find out about our products?
4. What distribution channels should we consider?
5. How much is it worth to the customer?
6. What pricing model should we choose?
7. What kind of relationship do we want with our customers? This is a key question – multiple shallow relationships or fewer deeper ones?
8. Who are we up against?
9. What do we have in common with our industry?
10. What must we be good at? Is there an absolute key skill or service we must be able to do well in order to succeed?

Ignite’s Launch Event!

An excellent and opener to the amazing work The Guild will start with student entrepreneurs at the university. I also had the pleasure of meeting Anne Mari Morris, MP for Newton Abbot, to discuss along with 15 other entrepreneurs how the government can aid small businesses and entrepreneurial young people. Indeed, Morris is actively interested in small businesses, co-chairing the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Micro Businesses. An excellent chance for Exeter students to engage directly with elected members of the government on a whole range of issues. Arising from the meeting was a unanimous determination to get entrepreneurship to the minds of young people at college, encouraging them to enter university with business ideas rather than waiting to finish their degree to come up with ideas!

Anne Marie Morris – Newton Abbot MP

It was also great to see Ed Vickers of Jollie Goods at the meeting, one of the University of Exeter’s top social entrepreneurs. During his first year biology student Ed set up a “wear a pair, share a pair” social enterprise helping provide socks for homeless people. Having worked in homeless shelters in London Ed realised that foot hygiene was something that was essential for living rough on England’s streets, yet many homeless people used their money to buy food rather than look after their feet. With this as his mission Ed received an Innovation Centre grant to help develop his product, business model and marketing strategy. I am proud to say they are now selling strongly throughout the UK, helping Ed to deliver fresh pairs of socks to homeless people across the nation!

Jollie Socks!

Here at MGR Music Tuition LTD things moved along nicely this week, with application for teachers on the Guitar Lessons Bath and Singing Lessons Newcastle websites. While the Guitar Lessons Northampton website was finished and I have been busy adding the final touches to the national website! It will be an exciting few months. I also have the exciting news that I will be going full time in early June to work on MGR Music Tuition! If you have a business idea before then make sure you drop me a line at !

Posted under Anne Marie Morris MP, Ignite, Jollie Goods, SEiR, SoundSYNK

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on March 10, 2013

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Week Nine

This week marked one of the most exciting SETsquared events of the year – The Deloitte Business Pitching Competition! Held in their London Stonecutter Court HQ, just of Fleet Street, the universities of Bath, Bristol, Southampton, Surrey & of course Exeter sent their top five entrepreneurs to win cash prize investments into their businesses. Last year one of the businesses that won the competition went on to gain a reported £100,000 pound investment into their idea, helping to expand their business throughout London – (see where they are now at The Underground Book Club). Representing the University of Exeter at this years’ prestigious event were Instabear, SoundSYNK, Macaw, Carverts and George Edwards. Arriving at the Deloitte HQ at 12 we were quickly thrown into a full networking event before being split off to present the business ideas, along with over 20 other business drawn from the other four universities. First to go was Ali of Macaw Designs, a tailor made fabric business where Ali personally designs iPad, iPhone, Kindle & laptop cases from beautiful materials for you – check out the image below!

Macaw Designs

Macaw Designs – beautifully tailored by Ali Gillum

Ali was followed by Michael of Carverts, a start up company that pays students to all businesses to advertise on their uni cars. Before Carverts handed over to Instabear, who performed an excellent pitch of their Instagram Polaroid picture printing business soon to launch! Our afternoon was rounded off by first class pitches from Tom Charman of George Edwards (a new student clothing business Rampant Sportingesk) and the SoundSYNK team (an Iphone app that synchronises devices to play music in time with one another!).

Carverts – sign up to earn cash while driving in Exeter!

Other notable pitches came from Bath, where one student had created a personalised business to business letter writing company that had an unbelievable rate of clients opening the letters and responding. As ever Elephant Branded made an appearance along with a few other extremely impressive businesses! After a talk from a few of the Deloitte hosts the final awards were announced and we are seriously proud to say that Instabear came second! Losing only slimily to the letter writing business. Great result for the University of Exeter! I think the students got a lot out of the day, experiencing how to prepare a 5 minute investment like pitch, getting a taste for how it feels to work in a huge corporate multi-national like Deloitte as well as networking with some fantastic entrepreneurs from other universities! Great day!

On the home front things are really progressing well with MGR Music, with guitar websites going online in Sunderland, Portsmouth and Reading as well as singing websites being created for Manchester and Derby. As you can see it was a busy week, the flagship Guitar Lessons London website also made great progress this week with the final few things coming together. I will be launching the website on my 22 birthday on the 17 April 2013, very excited! Plenty to do before then, but what a week!

Posted under Carverts, George Edwards, Guitar Lessons London, Instabear, Macaw Designs, MGR Music, SEiR, SetSquared, SoundSYNK, Student Businesses

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on March 3, 2013

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Week Eight

Student business of the week was certainly Jamie Wild Sculptures established by third year business management student Jamie Wild! A passionate artist Jamie started designing sculptures during his A Levels before being asked to produce commission pieces for friends and family. As the business grew the projects got lager, now Jamie is aiming to go part-time post graduation to pursue his hobby!

Crashing Boar – Jamie Wild Sculpture

I also met with Rishabh who had an innovative idea within the city distribution networks, combining green power with time-sharing driving – I will keep you updated when we can release more info, but very exciting! Here up at the Innovation Centre I occasionally meet Exeter alumni, this time former music student Chris dropped in to gather advice on his now wedding composition business idea – a cracking concept we discussed profiling his client and where to find there. Quickly we found that for a personalised organ composition for a wedding we are talking about clients in the top 5% of most lavish wedding ceremonies in the UK, therefore rather than accessing these clients through wedding trade fairs where the chances of meeting a client are too small we used a pivot technique to focus Chris’s business on building relationships with high-end wedding planners who might be interested in providing this additional service.

Here at MGR Music things have been bubbling along nicely, hiring a new teacher in Sheffield while expanding into Oxford and Hull with new guitar websites! I now have over 45 websites covering almost every city in the UK and things are really starting to hot up as more teachers are signed up! Exciting times!

Posted under Guitar Lessons London, Jamie Wild Sculptures, MGR Music, SEiR

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on February 24, 2013

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Week Seven

Wow, what a week! I met eight students with business ideas in a jam packed few days, before heading off to Instabear’s launch party on the Saturday! The Polaroid Instagram printing service will be live very shortly so make sure you sign up here! A highlight of the week was sitting down with the Young Ones co-founder Chris Rea to talk about how he can move the business from the UK’s top selling university inspired Onesie company to the new university outfitters, competing against the likes of Jack Wills, Superdry and Topman. With some great products in the line-up to be released over the summer & the possibility that the Young One team will go full time next year watch this space, you might just be seeing a new high-street clothing brand being born!

Young Ones – one of Exeter University’s top exports!

Another highlight of the week was meeting Tom, a first year student who had started a soap business early last year to win a bet against his friend. Having sold his own brand of soap on London stalls, generating a more than decent income, he is now preparing to launch his second business in Exeter! What this will be we let you know as soon as we can! I also met with a student who has a cracking idea for a new piece of skiing equipment, top secrete at the moment but once they are ready to go public you will hear more about it hear first! Additionally there were a few other pipeline businesses ideas this week that the Innovation Centre will help to incubate and develop over the next few months before their launch – I will keep you updated!

If you have a business idea, no matter how early come an visit us on campus up at the Innovation Centre!

My week away from the SEiR role saw the launch of Guitar Lessons Coventry, Guitar Lessons Plymouth and Singing Lessons Leeds thanks to my fantastic team of copywriters, while I began to start the process of hiring teachers for the Guitar Lessons Norwich and Guitar Lessons Belfast websites respectively. With enquiries coming in from all over the network guitar, singing and piano websites I am trying to hirer teachers as quickly as I can to fulfil them! Hindered slightly however by having an excruciatingly painful back I was reminded not to work too hard, seriously I have met so many people in their mid-40s that have made millions and burned out, damaging their health irretrievably in the process. It is very easy to work too hard on your own business, while juggling a degree, social relationships, other part time jobs, yet you can’t buy your health back once you made your money – live in the present & chill!

Posted under Innovation Centre, Instabear, Young Ones

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on February 17, 2013

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Week Six

The SetSquared Xing event held at the University of Surrey was unquestionably the highlight of this week. After an inopportune 5am start Exeter university’s crack team of six of our best entrepreneurs and I headed off to Guilford to join forces with entrepreneurs from Bath, Southampton, Bristol and Surrey to take part in a regional business challenge. The day was a resounding success, with each mixed university team being given a business idea to develop over four hours before pitching it back to a pool of Dragon’s Den style judges. While the students were split up to network and build teams with talented students drawn across the globe to our five universities, the Student Entrepreneurs in Residence (the equivalent position to mine) of each of the five universities were placed into a team – this was a hilarious (mis)decision! Instantly getting on famously it created a fantastic day of socialising, networking and business development – with the students coming away having experienced first hand some of the critical aspects of turning an idea into a business model.

SETsquared Xing challenge

With three of the Exeter students winning big money prizes during the event’s finale – a share in the £1,500 awarded on the day to entrepreneurial students – we returned back to Exeter. The message of the day was certainly focused on teams and the importance of building the right team, one where getting the right personalities has more of an impact on team productivity than hiring on qualification. Understanding this is vital for new businesses as hiring the wrong second, third or forth employee in your organisation might be the direct reason for your business failing. Lucky after some horror stories from former Kauffman Scholar Alistair Shepherd we will be thinking twice before we recruit again!

After meeting several student businesses during my drop sessions (email me if you want one) including JD Solis, e-Book gifting and Instabear – who are launching extremely soon – I went to meet local lawyer Dominic Hollingsworth of Kitsons. Part of my role this year is to build up a network of external professional services to help aid student business development, this includes reaching out to legal, accountancy and bank firms to build relationships that students can benefit from. The meeting was a great success and I am proud to say we have Kitsons on board for legal support for university entrepreneurs!

At MGR Music I hired another teacher, a university of Exeter student and piano wizard Callum Henry for the Piano Lessons Exeter website, while the business expanded into Leicester and Cambridge. Being the first week in the month the money for the previous months lesson commissions came in, up 8.25% percent in January from December! The Guitar Lessons London website is also coming together behind the scenes, ready for its big launch on the 17th April 2013! Check out the screenshots below…

Guitar Lessons London – development screenshot!

Posted under Guitar Lessons London, Instabear, JD Solis, Kauffman Scholarship, SEiR, SetSquared, Student Businesses

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on February 9, 2013

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Week Five

This week started with a conference held up at the Innovation Centre to promote one of the best scholarship courses I have ever heard of! The Kauffman Scholarship is a fully funded 15-month programme to develop a scalable technology business, with 6 months in the US studying at Harvard, Stanford and MIT – some of top business institutions in the world. Alistair Shepherd, a former Kaufmann Scholar and current business owner of Saberr, was our keynotes speaker inspiring 12 final year students to go on and apply! You can still apply for this fantastic opportunity, as well as find our more about the scholarship, here (closing date 22 February 2013).

Kauffman Scholarship – the best scholarship I have ever heard of!

After talking with BBC Radio Devon on Tuesday I caught up with Jon Mills to talk about his t-shirt business Mammal Swag. The fantastic animal designs, including “the gangsta hippo”, “the chap chimp” and “the shellsuit stag”, all drawn and designed by Jon himself have seen the business take off on campus over the last few months. Regularly on sale in the forum as well as online Mammal Swag will be looking to overcome the challenges of scaling up their operation from a local to national business over the next few months. This is no easy task!

Mammal Swag – clothing that will bite!

I also caught up with Exeter Entrepreneurs Society president Edward Noel who had the great news that the yearly Exeter Apprentice Competition will go head this year as planned! With ten teams of four students being given £100 start up investment each, as well as a month to make as much money as they can, the event is often one of the highlights of Exeter’s entrepreneurial calendar. The competition has seen some great business ideas, from university branded pint glasses that won in the first year to selling risky underwear with Exeter slogans on! To apply to be part of the competition simply get in contact with EES on their Facebook page.

Here at MGR Music I am pleased to let you know we hired another two teachers this week! Oscar Charles, a first year University of Exeter student has accepted the role as the Drum Lessons Exeter teacher. While up in Bristol I have started working with Steph Hodges as the Singing Lessons Bristol singing teacher! This week also saw me try and get in contact with teachers in for the Singing Lessons Cardiff and Guitar Lessons Peterborough websites – having set up a few meetings, we will see how well I have done over the next few weeks! Fingers crossed! I have also hired another student to help write copy for the singing websites – if you are interested in getting involved email me at .

Drum Lessons Exeter

Oscar Charles – our new drum teacher!

Posted under Guitar Lessons London, Kauffman Scholarship, Mammal Swag

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on February 1, 2013

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Week Four

Another furious week this week up at the Innovation Centre as we awarded grant funding to our first student business of the year! Dan Wiseman, a recent drama graduate and current owner of Webwise Media, pitched for grant funding to help develop his software solution to digital signage management. Named Screenfish, the idea successfully negotiated its way through two business plan development sessions, multiple meetings with Innovation Centre staff and a Dragon’s Den style pitch before gaining funding. Congratulations to Dan, I will keep you updated as how the project is going!

Screenfish – Webwise Media Ltd new software package!

I also met a student during my weekly drop in sessions who pitched one of the best business ideas I have heard all term! Instabear, which has already gone online this week, is an awesome website where you can finally get your Instagram photos printed! Offering both Polaroid’s and snaps check out their website and like their Facebook page – great job by final year student Solly Akhtar!

Instabear goes live!

This week also saw me travelling up to Leicester and Sheffield to interview guitar teachers for the Guitar Lessons Leicester and Guitar Lessons Sheffield websites. A really exciting trip, I managed to interview a total of five teachers in Leicester and Sheffield hiring a new guitar teacher in Leicester to work with!

Interviewing is a hard process to get right, especially in the context of my sub-contracting business where I have to pitch the business model to them while they try and pitch themselves to me. There is a lot of research to suggest that interviewing is actually one of the worst ways of selecting the right people to work for your organisation as the process is far from objective. Personality, appearance and the fact you both support the same football/rugby/bowls team invariably prompts you to hire the person you get on with rather than the best candidate for the job! Always take applications first and then select the final candidates to be interviewed by a colleague who is not the decision maker before interviewing the last two or three yourself!

Posted under Guitar Lessons London, Instabear, MGR Music, Student Businesses, Webwise Media, Wiseman Media

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on January 27, 2013

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Week Three

JD Solis were the student business find of the week! Ran by Alex O’Mahony-Zed, Nathaniel Rankin and Samuel Cooledge this premium operation began in summer 2012 as the three Exeter University students saw an opportunity in the polo lifestyle market. Manufacturing a simple but stylish polo belt, made in the colours of your polo team, the belts sold extremely well during the summer months at numerous polo tournaments! Targeted at the polo audience rather than the players themselves this high-end market enables a tasty margin on each belt sold. With a great marketing strategy, namely trying to encourage the players themselves to wear the belts through sponsorships and giveaways to make them desirable to the audience (a common business strategy for sportswear brands), the trio successfully built up JD Solis as a polo brand and are now looking to bring this success across to their online sales.

JD Solis – Polo Belts!

This week also saw a few fantastic developments for MGR Music – this week the final website designs for the Singing Lessons Location, Piano Lessons Location and Drum Lesson Location have come through! Andy of 1010 Media has yet again done an amazing job creating extremely professional website templates that we have already started building this week. Check them out below! Already finished are the Piano Lessons Glasgow, Drum Lessons York and Singing Lessons Nottingham website thanks to MGR Music Tuition’s team of student copy writers – it is now over to me to find some teachers!

Final Piano Lessons Location Templates!

Posted under JD Solis, MGR Music, Student Businesses

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on January 20, 2013

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Introduction!

Hello, my name is Matthew Rusk and I am this academic year’s Student Entrepreneur in Residence working with Exeter university students who have business ideas! I started a business while studying history at Exeter (2009 – 2012) and am here to help develop, support and offer advice on your business ideas. I also work with current students who run businesses turning over thousands of pounds a year while at university – you will find out more about them in my blog – helping to develop these businesses into the next big thing. I have been asked to write a blog this term so you can find out more about what entrepreneurial Exeter students are getting up to, explain how you can develop your business ideas and let you experience the day to day highs and lows that running my business, MGR Music Tuition LTD, brings! Enjoy!

If you have any questions or would like to meet up to talk about your business ideas email me at . You can also read more about the back story to my business on the Career Zone and Alumni websites. In addition you can also check out more information about other students business right here at the uni at University of Exeter Student Businesses or here at the Career Zone Success Stories.

Matthew Rusk – Student Entrepreneur in Residence

Posted under SEiR

This post was written by Matthew Rusk on January 1, 2013

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