Today, more and more students are starting their own businesses alongside their degrees. To nurture and encourage the entrepreneurially minded, the University of Bath took four students on a prize business trip this summer to visit key players in tech sectors in America.

“Students get the sort of money-can’t-buy advice you want when you’re starting out but can never afford”

 

With an impressive and packed-out week visiting San Francisco and New York, the students were able to glean start-up advice from University alumni working for Facebook, Google, JP Morgan, Instagram, and a host of world-leading companies.

In addition to this, the students were able to take part in master classes, pitching sessions and more, to help them evolve their entrepreneurial ideas.

Siobain HorneAccompanying the students to the US is Siobain Hone (pictured left), Enterprise Education Manager at the University of Bath’s Innovation Centre. She explains, “We immerse the students in an entrepreneurial climate and let them explore their business ideas with experts who can give them real advice and help connect them to key people and networks.

“We tailor the trip to suit the winners so if they need help with pitching for investment we take them to JPMorgan for a good grilling”

 

“We tailor the trip to suit the winners so if they need help with pitching for investment we take them to JPMorgan for a good grilling and they get the sort of money-can’t-buy advice you want when you’re starting out but can never afford.”

Picking the winners

Selected to go on this prestigious trip were Dr Phil Hamann and Bhavuk Gupta – the winners of the University’s Apps Crunch competition. They were joined by James Courtney and Harry Cobbold – the respective winner and runner-up of the student Business Plan competition.

Bath students outside google

Google HQ: The winning students – Harry Cobbold, Bhavuk Gupta, Dr Phil Hamann, James Courtney

James Courtney (pictured below right) won the University’s Business Plan competition with his premium dining rewards app, LUX – which he is now running from the University’s Innovation Centre during the placement year of his Business Administration course in the School of Management. He has secured over £80,000 of crowdfunding for his business with help from Crowd10 – a South West programme that helps entrepreneurs with their crowdfunding campaign.

“Experiencing the start-up scene in San Francisco has been a dream for me”

 

James Courtney at the Innovation centreBefore heading off on the trip, James told us, “Experiencing the start-up scene in San Francisco has been a dream for me in the last couple of years and I’m very much looking forward to meeting some inspirational alumni out there.”

Harry Cobbald, a first year Business Administration student, was runner-up in the Business Plan competition. His idea for an online service for temporary staffing, called Shift, also impressed the judges enough for them to pick him.

“It was very difficult deciding on the winners this year as the entries were so good”

 

HWinners of the student app design competition Bhavuk Gupta and Dr Phil Hamann with Enterprise Education Manager Siobain Honeospital doctor Phil Hamann was inspired by his work at the hospital and, along with team mate Bhavuk (pictured left) they created an app which enables patients with long term chronic diseases to track their health.

The app, called Cora, monitors their results and optimises the allocation of hospital appointments according to need, removing the reliance on regularly scheduled appointments.

Phil explains, “I’ve worked in the NHS for 10 years and the pressures on resources are clear to us all. We need innovative thinking to take on some of the challenges that face patients and clinicians alike, and the enterprise competition at the University has given me the opportunity to do just that.”

Phil has worked with the University’s Innovation Centre to begin developing the app with digital product specialists, Propagator with the aim of piloting Cora in Bath’s Royal United Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Siobain, who runs the University’s Business Plan and Apps Crunch Competitions adds, “It was very difficult deciding on the winners this year as the entries were so good but luckily I learned early on in my job not to get involved in the actual judging so I leave that to the industry experts like Richard Godfrey from Rocketmakers (our chair), Simon Starr, Dave Kelly and TechSPARK’s Abby Frear.”

American alumni and at home

James Courtney and Siobain Horne atThe prize trip is funded and supported by University alumni based in the United States. They belong to a 100,000-strong community living in 150 countries worldwide. Bath alumni and friends support the University in many ways, from generously donating their time and expertise to help current students and fellow graduates, to making gifts which change lives.

Siobain is very grateful for support locally and internationally, she tells us, “Our US alumni couldn’t be more supportive – they fund the students’ flights and accommodation and give up so much of their time to meet with them. They are very generous with their connections and networks.

“We couldn’t run our activities without the support of our local tech and business communities”

 

“We try and make our enterprise activities as realistic as possible so we have industry experts as judges and mentors. We couldn’t run our activities without the support of our local tech and business communities and we’re very lucky with the support they give.”

Siobain is always looking for mentors to give feedback to the students during the competitions which run between October and March. “We tend to run events early evening at the Innovation Centre so everything is very accessible for students and those of us with a more 9-5 schedule. Many of our students get head-hunted from our competitions by local businesses looking for temporary and permanent staff and we’ve built up a great network into which we welcome new members.”

If you would like to become a mentor to the students, you can get in touch with the innovation centre. For more information about student enterprise activities at the University visit their website, or keep up with them on Facebook

Natasha Baer