Month: June 2018

How Cass taught me to be a #GirlBoss

It has always been a dream of mine to start my own business.

Fresh out of university without any knowledge or experience of running a venture, I decided to undertake MSc in Entrepreneurship at Cass to kick-start my startup journey.

I figured this course would equip me with international experience, technical skills and commercial abilities to start my own company eventually. More importantly, I was interested to meet like-minded people who had similar risk appetites and career ideals as me.

This course is unlike any other master’s degree in the world. Firstly, it is entirely focused on entrepreneurship; a route less taken by people who are more satisfied with conventional careers. It is meant for risk takers who thrive on competition, opportunities and uncertainty in the commercial world.

The course is unique in the way it taught me to think creatively and to address the root problem at hand. It taught me to be adaptable, versatile and to understand business as an entity.

With the modules covering a wide range of topics about startup ecosystems, I gained a holistic perspective of how to start and exit businesses.

From new venture creation to funding new ventures, I learnt how to conceptualise an idea, achieve proof of concept and conduct feasibility tests on my business.

Most of the modules involved collaborative group work and presentations, which was useful in understanding other cultures and conflict resolution styles. It also improved my pitching and public speaking skills and I personally enjoyed how it built my confidence.

The lecturers were a mix of academics and professionals with industry experience, which made it very helpful when I was trying to attain insights on a topic, issue or industry. All this was valuable for what happened next.

Image: Brainstorming & creativity problem solving activities in my Entrepreneurial Advisory module (May 2018)

Starting my own venture

Since starting school in September last year, I implemented the teaching from my course to initiate my own venture, Lonbrella, London’s first umbrella rental service.

I thought about this business idea one evening when it was raining heavily and I was stuck at Angel Underground Station without an umbrella. When I looked around the station, it came to my attention that I wasn’t the only one facing this problem.

This was the “light bulb moment” when I realised there was opportunity for such a service.

I first pitched Lonbrella during our first class, New Venture Creation, where we had to prepare a business pitch for investors. The pitch was well received by the investors, lecturers and peers who then motivated us to pursue and explore the business idea.

It seemed surreal how something that started as a mere idea now became a plausible business venture.

Shortly after that, I teamed up with two other classmates, Olianna Gonzalez and Rodrigo Camino and started working on Lonbrella. I definitely did not expect to start working on a business so quickly (it was a month after I joined the programme!).

That being said, it was a very timely decision since I could apply my classroom theories and practices directly to Lonbrella.

Finding funding

Since then, Lonbrella participated in four business idea competitions organised by City University where we pitched to compete for funding and mentorship.

The most recent competition we won was the GreenSpark award, an award rewarding sustainable businesses that help to reduce carbon footprint for customers.

We also raised £2,500 in funding to achieve our next milestones. Here is a video we produced to include in our pitch: “Good Men Like Steven”.

We are now fortunate to work closely with Santander Bank, one of our investors, that supports our brand awareness activities through pop-up booths in their branches.

 

Image: Pitching Lonbrella at City Spark, a business competition (April 2018)

Image: Lonbrella’s pop-up booth at Santander’s branch (May 2018)

Networking

Aside from competitions, Cass organised many networking events that benefited my professional network in London.

Having spoken to working professionals from different industries, cultures and backgrounds, I developed a clearer perspective of my career options. The insights and knowledge gained through these conversations have helped me understand London’s working environment and employment expectations.

I also attended talks by Tom Blomfield (CEO of Monzo Bank) and Eric Ries (Author of The Lean Startup); both very successful entrepreneurs in the global startup scene.

I found Blomfield’s journey very inspiring, as he is one of the best examples of a modern-day entrepreneur who successfully innovated within the financial industry; known to be cumbersome, expensive and complex.

For Ries, there is no doubt that he played a significant role in my academic and entrepreneurial course thus far. He taught me that entrepreneurship is ultimately about company building to maximise creativity and productivity potential of all members in the organisation.

Image: “The Startup Way” book launch with Eric Ries, author of The Startup Way 

I am grateful for Cass’s MSc Entrepreneurship course for introducing me to the incredible friends I have made throughout the year. Although my class is relatively smaller than other courses, this was the best thing that could happen because we grew close quickly.

As a cohort, we hang out outside of school and often attend different events from dinner parties to rock climbing sessions. Furthermore, I was so lucky to meet my co-founders in this class. To me, it is truly incredible that we are all gathered here in London, bonded by our common interests of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Image: Class visit to Tech Hub, the global community for tech entrepreneurs and startups (May 2018)

Image: Self-organised class trip to Edinburgh, Scotland (February 2018)

 

Wendi Lai 
MSc Entrepreneurship (2018)

An unforgettable Marketing year at Cass

Sitting in my living room, drinking my freshly brewed coffee, I start to reminisce about the year that has just gone by. As I start my journey from the start of term back in October, I feel myself laughing and smiling remembering all the fun I have had.

My story at Cass has had many twists and turns all of which are memorable. Apart from the amazing friends I have made, the learning experience was great; I learned more in this past year than I have during my four years of undergrad.

First experiences at Cass

My story began at Moorgate Underground Station. As I walked up the stairs in the station, I felt the buzz of the City. Excitement filled me as I was about to embark on a new chapter in my life.

However, my life hadn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. I was injured during my time in the military which forced me to leave. Then ended up getting a terrible job as a salesman at an estate agency followed by working almost every day in a bar. I needed to do something to escape this but had no idea how?

One day on the way to work, I heard some people discuss how excited they were about starting their master’s at Cass Business School. It was almost as if by divine intervention, God listened and provided a path for me. This lead me to research more about master’s degrees and more about Cass Business School.

After more research, I decided to enrol myself at Cass, choosing to study MSc Marketing Strategy & Innovation. Everyone has different reasons and skill sets. However, for me this course allowed me to work on projects that will give me the skills that I can get the dream job that I wanted. Cass has many connections to firms in London and allows students to take part in the Colgate-Tesco Hackathon to create a campaign.

Back to Moorgate. As I looked at my phone trying to find my way to Cass, I soon saw someone looking at their phone in confusion too. They looked more like a student than someone working in the City so I tried my luck and asked them if they were also looking for Cass. With a smile and laugh, he said he was and we soon joined together for the quest. After talking to him, I also found out that he enrolled to study MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation. This individual soon became my best friend later during the year.

The initial induction was fantastic as I met many people from all over Cass. I appreciated the diversity in backgrounds, and everyone’s willingness to help out. It was from this diverse set that throughout the year I was able to learn and develop as a marketer and person.

One commentator asked the question, “How do you know if your business school is good?”. He continued, “Firstly, look at the Professor. How do you trust what they are saying? Secondly, look around you. Are your peers smart?”. The answer is different for everyone, but personally studying at Cass, I can answer yes to both. I learned so much from my Professors but even more so from my peers.

Highlights of my year

During the course of the year there were many highlights, but the one that sticks out the most was attending the Colgate-Tesco Hackathon, held at the Dunnhumby office in Hammersmith, London. This event that really develops you and throws you into the deep end. In teams of six or eight we were tasked to design a full marketing campaign for Colgate and Tesco. It was an intense two days as we had to quickly work out the best strategy and tactics that will allow us to be creative and analytical with our campaign.

At the end, we competed with other teams and pitched our campaign to the judges comprised of many leaders at Tesco and Colgate. This real-life business challenge gave us the opportunity to  apply all our newly gained skills to something real and tangible. Even though my team didn’t win the contest, I learned a lot talking to executives and professionals at Colgate and Tesco with the addition of learning from my peers and the group that won the competition.

However, the best learning takes place at the local Artillery Arms pub, located just two minutes away from Cass, where a classmate and I created our Marketing Society Friday Drinks. Here we invite both professors and students to join us.

Many topics are discussed, and it is a good way to know our professors and their life outside of Cass. Also, it gives us a great opportunity to talk be philosophical and network.

The Friday drinks at the Arms has become a bit of a tradition and my classmate and I no longer need to try arranging it anymore. Everyone knows what to do now and we hope this tradition continues even after we finish studying.

My advice to you

I would advise anyone that wants to pursue a career in marketing to join Cass. Not only do you learn a lot, you can count on a reliable team of people around you to help you succeed. I would suggest that you take full advantage of the careers office located near the cafeteria. Always helpful to discuss any job application, cover letter or jobs in general, their expertise has helped me secure many job interviews, and when I graduate the team will still be available to help. I have a very good relationship with them and they are always helpful.

After an amazing year studying MSc Marketing Strategy & Innovation at Cass Business School, I am confident that I will succeed to be a great marketer for any company, or perhaps when I start my own company one day.

I have made amazing friends both students and professors ,and you can always count on an alumnus to help get your CV to someone in HR at their company. Cass has surpassed any expectations I had, and I would advise everyone looking to join to attend any event or competition being offered. From my Hackathon experience with Colgate and Tesco, I have had many job interviews and it is very impressive on your CV, especially if you lack experience in marketing.

Giving up was never an option when I was working jobs that I didn’t enjoy. Cass Business School gave me the opportunity to explore and develop myself; I didn’t give up and neither did they or my peers around me.

If you truly want to excel and gain new friends, then look no further. Again, “How do you know if you are at a good business school? Look at your professor. How do you trust what they are saying? Look at your peers. Are they smart?”. I can truly say a solid “Yes” to both.

Luigi Ferrara
MSc Marketing Strategy & Innovation  (2018)

 

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