Tag: entrepreneurship

Studying online: Beating shyness and becoming closer to my classmates

2020 has been an unusual for everyone due to Covid-19. Studying and working online is the new normal for most people.

My name is Dilin Chen and I am studying the Cass MSc in Entrepreneurship. I would like to share my online learning experiences, which might be beneficial for prospective students who might be wondering what it is like to learn online.

Moodle: an online hub of resources

We use the online platform Moodle as a support tool for in-class teaching. Since shifting to online learning, it has become even more important. It provides all the basic information you might need to know, such as your lecture timetable, information about your modules, the contact and the contact details of lecturers and students. It also allows you to choose elective modules, form groups for group coursework and provides you with the login information to access Zoom and Adobe Connect, which are the main softwares we use for online lectures. They both have important functions which are very useful to make the lectures interactive and to support students’ participation.

Zoom and Adobe Connect classes

Most of the lecturers encourage us students to turn on the video to see our facial expressions to understand whether we have questions or comments. This helps us to stay connected with the class and give our full attention and keep us motivated. During the class, we are encouraged to speak up and ask our lecturers questions like we would normally do in a face-to-face classes. If you feel shy to speak during the lecture, you could send an email or discuss the problem in Forum, which is a function allowing teachers and students to discuss on Moodle at the end of the class.

PowerPoint is available during classes and the lecturers sometimes use the polling function in Zoom to check how we are doing and understand our progress. If you have missed the lecture, you can watch a recorded version soon after class on Moodle

Some lectures provide pre-recorded videos to give more useful information. The reading list is mainly online, which can be found in the digital library provided by the School. We can also access a wide variety of resources, journal articles and digital books for all our subjects.

Beating shyness through interactive online learning

During my classes, the teachers make us use the break-out rooms function, which allows us to work in small online groups to discuss given questions. Here, the teachers randomly select people to join the group discussion. I find this method very powerful because it allows me to step out of my comfort zone by chatting to people I might not normally chat to and make new friends. It is such a gift to study with people from all different backgrounds and nationalities, which is very beneficial to learn about different thinking styles and cultures and keep me connected to my peers.

I am an introvert, which sometimes make me afraid to speak out in front of people in class. In the online learning setting, I feel more confident to ask questions and have more interactions with my lecturers.

Online careers support

The Careers and Professional Development Team have been great at keeping us informed with job offers and providing one-to-one online meeting sessions to help us shape our careers. The careers coaching advisors have been available throughout and have been an excellent resource to help me edit my CV and cover letter as well as discussing my options for career development. There are also a lot of careers coaching events being hosted by the Cass Careers Team.

I have been positively surprised by this new experience of online learning. I have really appreciated it so far, as well as the opportunity to study from home.

Dilin Chen, MSc Entrepreneurship (2020)

 

Knowledge, memories and friendship: what I cherish from my MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation

My first exposure to the world of marketing was quite early on in my life. My father is an entrepreneur and runs an advertising and marketing agency. During my school days, I used to visit his office and observe the creative teamwork on building brands and campaigns. In hindsight, I believe that this is when I subconsciously decided to delve into and explore the field of marketing.

The Cass MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation has been one of the most intriguing courses I’ve ever studied. I find myself facing new and exciting challenges every day. I continuously look forward to learning more from my professors, who are some of the best academics and practitioners in the field. Studying at Cass has made me even more curious about the dynamic world of marketing.

Cass gives you the opportunity to put the knowledge that you learn in class to use in the practical world. We worked with real companies to help them with their marketing and branding strategies! That experience was an eye-opener and I cannot thank Cass and our professors enough for equipping us with the skillset to fight our own battles in the real world of marketing, as well as learning how to improvise by keeping us on our toes.

I have participated in exciting group challenges and presentations, individual assignments, workshops, come up with innovative ideas for projects, worked till midnight to meet deadlines and learned how to be a part of a team.

Being elected as the President of the Marketing and Strategy Society was yet another learning experience. I truly recommend joining a student society to learn something outside of what is being taught in class. Exploring other fields of marketing and strategy while networking with so many people and learning something from each person you meet is an incredible experience.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, I still choose to look at the positive outcomes of my past six months at Cass: I have grown as a person, I have become a better marketeer with lots of new creative strategies and I have become a friend to so many new people. I cherish the knowledge I have gained, the memories I have made and the friends who have become family.

To all of you out there looking for the courage to step out of your comfort zone by moving to another country to learn more about your passion, I would like to quote Paulo Coelho and say, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” Believe in yourself and challenge yourself to achieve everything you have ever dreamt of.

Anushi Chadha, MSc Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2020)

CityStarters Weekend – Not a typical weekend

Being an MSc International Business student means not needing to confine yourself to one career path. Being a Cass master’s student gives you the opportunity to thrive. I am incredibly motivated by the commitment of my classmates. In learning that they all have very unique backgrounds and talents, my determination to really make this year at Cass count grew even stronger. That’s how I ended up at the CityStarters Weekend.

CityStarters Weekend is a startup hackathon held by CityVentures that features a series of workshops and talks, giving you the opportunity to innovate, to think out of the box and to come up with a ground-breaking solution with your team. I had never been to a competition that required so much thinking, not to mention coming up with a feasible, eye-catching startup idea in a seemingly impossible time-frame! Luckily, our team was full of passionate students that we were soon flooded with opinions on what should we be going for. Throughout the weekend, we worked on multiple problems, solutions and most importantly, we shared thoughts with our mentors, competitors and connected with a lot of intelligent individuals! At the end of the event, every team’s hopes rested on our entrusted pitchers. I am proud of my team and our pitchers who gave an excellent presentation.

While we did not win an award this time around, I left overjoyed and feeling like I had conquered the weekend. The most valuable I learned from this experience, as cliché as it may seem, is that it is the journey that really counts. The weekend taught me so much about the brainstorming and pitching process and I leave even more motivated to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions.

Jonas Leung, MSc International Business (2020)

EntrepreneursTalk@Cass Returns to Cass Business School!

From left to right: James Song (MSc Entrepreneurship at Cass, 2019), Aurore Hochard (Head of Entrepreneurship Programmes at Cass), Emily Brooke MBE (Founder of Beryl), Martin Mignot (Partner at Index Ventures)

EntrepreneursTalk@Cass returned with a bang to Cass Business School on June 5th, 2019 organized by Aurore Hochard, Head of Entrepreneurship Programmes at the University.

Martin Mignot and Emily Brooke MBE discussed advice for entrepreneurs seeking funding, and their experiences as an investor and investee in the transportation industry. They were interviewed by James Song, a Product Designer at Founders Factory and MSc Entrepreneurship (2019) student at Cass who stated, “It was a great occasion to learn from the experiences of a couple of successful people both from the VC side and entrepreneur side!”

Martin Mignot, a partner at Index Ventures, exclaimed early in the evening that his favorite part about the industry is the fact that “I get paid to learn and work with incredible people” and how much he enjoys helping solve problems for early-stage companies. According to Mr. Mignot, “Every company, no matter how successful, is just a sum of problems to solve” and he enjoys the process of finding solutions.

Index Ventures is typically Seed and Series A investments, and Mr. Mignot commented, “We like to be the first institution but not the first money in” for investments made. This is fairly common in the industry, with angel investors taking on the most risk and venture capital investors signing on later. The UK is a great ecosystem for early-stage investment due to the various tax benefits that angel investors make, especially EIS and SEIS.

SEIS stands for Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme and offers a 50% tax break for investors that put in part of the first £150,000 for a qualified startup. Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) offers a 30% income tax reduction for investments up to £1 million for an individual and £12 million for a company. These are some of the highest tax benefits in the western world for angel investment, and this helps to make London and the United Kingdom a healthy market for new startups.

Emily Brooke is the Founder of Beryl (formerly Blaze), and her company has benefited from this great ecosystem, getting early investment from the Richard Branson family, Index Ventures, and others. Beryl has gone through some rough patches, and Mrs. Brooke discussed the problems they have overcome when expanding internationally including trademark issues that forced them to change their name. Her biggest advice for entrepreneurs is to “Get on with it” when getting started, and to “Focus on doing one thing properly before diversifying”.

Mrs. Brooke’s advice for getting investment is to find investors that will let you retain a lot of control over your own company, stating “Our goal is light-touch investment” which has “…given us a lot of freedom”. Apparently, this approach has worked well, as Beryl has won multiple awards for their bike lights, including the iF Design Award (2019), Eurobike Industry Award (2018) and many others while expanding her product sales across Europe, the United States and Japan since its founding in the United Kingdom in 2012.

Emma Rowe, MSc Entrepreneurship (2019) at Cass Business School, attended the event and said “[the evening] was incredibly valuable. I loved having an insight into the speakers’ personal journeys, particularly the challenges they faced and who inspired them to do what they do today.”

The evening ended with a networking session and drinks, where up-and-coming entrepreneurs mingled with their experienced counterparts. The excited conversations were a sign that the next event will be well attended! These types of events are what help Cass Business School to stand out among its peers, and the evening offered real value to students and industry professionals alike.

The next EntrepreneursTalk@Cass event will be taking place on July 3rd, 2019 at Cass Business School attended by another Entrepreneur and Venture Capital duo. Please find details here.

Andrew Bott, MSc Entrepreneurship (2019)

Study tour to Berlin

When I found out about the international study tours offered to MSc Management students, I jumped at the opportunity to join. The study tours gave my cohort the chance to visit Lisbon, Berlin or Prague. I chose Berlin as I had the chance to discover the culture, the architecture, the food, but also to meet local entrepreneurs. We went to explore how their businesses are run, what issues they face and how they resolve them.

There is a world outside the classroom ready to back up young people who are willing to work hard. If you have a good idea and the character to pursue your dream, if London won’t be your home, Berlin could be. Personally, I have already worked in France and the UK, and I will now definitely take Berlin into consideration as another option. Cass Business school gave me the possibility to visit the city from a professional prospective that I could never had otherwise.

We met inspirational entrepreneurs who made us see the city through their own eyes. One of them in particular invited us to see beyond the cold German architecture and the cloudy weather, and instead look deeper to appreciate the thumping heart of the city, so open, dynamic and cosmopolitan. Germany is a country that has stood up twice from its own ruins, and both times it became stronger than before. The future is bright in Germany’s capital.

We mostly visited start-up incubators, so since the first day, I started questioning myself and wondering whether I should set my own business instead of working for somebody else. I had never thought seriously about this option, as it once seemed to be a world so far away that it was hard to imagine what it would really look like. However, by meeting these professionals who so openly talked about the failures and the challenges they had to face to get where they are now, I think I now have a realistic overview of what it takes to be an entrepreneur:  a mix of passion and resilience.

I was really inspired by the quote: “ask yourself where the pain is bigger.” This was told to us by Maurice Grassau, CEO at Architrave, which develops digital processes and solutions for the real estate industry. He delivered an incredible speech about launching a start-up that I will remember forever. He explained to us that from his experience, if you will ever find yourself looking for a valuable idea to base your start-up on, you should focus on what is the factor that causes more issues to get done, the thing that is so tricky or time consuming that people would love to pay for getting it sorted. During his speech, he gave us other important insights about managing a business, such as choosing a partner who will often challenge your ideas and thinks differently from you. He also imparted that you should always acknowledge the pressure on your co-workers, as he said “you can’t keep people on stress mode for 12 straight months”.

I’d like to thank Cass for the possibility to listen to such experienced people and see another part of the world. Sometimes we are so focused on the textbooks that we forget that the things we study are aimed to be applied. This trip was a good reminder of that.

Prost!

 

Bianca Gabellini, MSc  Management (2019)

 

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)

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