The Second HomeMonday 4 March 2013
The Second Home
Throughout the 2012-2013 academic year four of Liverpool Hope’s international students and one British student took part in the Young Enterprise programme. This gave us the opportunity to develop a business idea and to take part in workshops with a Business Adviser from Young Enterprise and local business people who shared their knowledge and experience, as well as giving some tips and guidance on how to develop and run a business. This group set up The Second Home.
The Second Home is a company established to solve a problem faced by many international students when they come to the UK. There is a limit on luggage allowances, so it isn’t possible to bring everything that is needed, such as duvet, sheets and pillows. This often causes a problem when international students first arrive in the UK as they don’t know where to go to buy these items. As an international student, I faced the same difficulty and had to suffer for the first few weeks of my stay. As I met different international students, I realised that everyone had the same problem. I saw a gap in the market and the possibility of a new business, which could benefit international students. Having an idea and converting into a real business could be almost impossible for an international student, as you have to fulfil many formalities and have a suitable visa for it. To start your own business you also need good work experience, which is quite difficult to get for international students in the UK.
The Young Enterprise Start up Programme was the perfect opportunity for me to transform my business idea into reality. Initially, I never thought my business idea would work but when I met Ms Sarah Atherton, the Student and Graduate Enterprise Officer, and pitched my idea to her, she was excited with the idea and wanted me to be part of the programme. To start my business I realised that I needed partners to help me. I needed people who had some understanding of the requirements of international students, as well as a person who has a good knowledge of the UK market. For this my best friend Kirandeep Mahey decided to join me. Living in the UK for more than 20 years and coming from a family who ran wholesale businesses, she had great knowledge of the UK market. Two other Chinese classmates were keen to take part, Genchoa Liu and Yingying Liu. Being international students, they understood the requirements of international students like me. I also realised that if the business had to work, we would need someone with expertise in IT, and Saphal Adhikari, who has experience in this field, chose to join us.
We had organised a good team with everyone having different strengths. The only thing we required was professional help and guidance. Mr Gary Beggs was appointed to us as our Business Mentor. He is a business advisor for RBS bank and helped us in developing our business. We also had weekly sessions with Ms Sarah Atherton and Mr John Firr from Young Enterprise, where we learned about a variety of useful topics including business plans, financial management, marketing and the legal elements of running a business.
We did face some issues such as marketing our product to international students. The University couldn’t help us because of legal issues. To solve this issue, Mrs Carol Buckman, Manager of Hope Business Gateway, organised a meeting for us with Liverpool Vision, which helped us to make contacts with different people around the world. We decided to hire agents to assist us in marketing our product.
Day by day we improved our business plan and made it perfect. Our hard work resulted in a place for us in the North West Regional finals for the Young Enterprise Start Up Programme. With the help of Ms Sarah Atherton and Mr Christopher Davies, the Student Enterprise Intern, we were well prepared and ready for the competition.
Although The Second Home didn’t win any awards at the competition, it gave us valuable experience. The opportunity to present in front of two of the two Enterprise Councillors for Liverpool City Council, as well as leading businessmen and women from the City, proved to be a great experience. It also showed us the importance of preparation in preparing a pitch for investment funding and gave us the chance to see different business ideas and how other students pitched their products.
Overall, the Young Enterprise Programme has helped me to use the business theories that I learned about in class and apply them to the real business world. I have learned how a business runs and have faced, and solved, a variety of different issues. It gave me an opportunity to have an experience which no job could have given me.
Winning a place in the Regional finals of the Young Enterprise Competition provided a fantastic opportunity and we were told by the Business Gateway team and delegates who attended the event that we were a credit to the University.
You can read more about the competition day on our News Page
If you have a business idea and have the entrepreneurial drive, motivation and passion to create your own business, you could be like The Second Home and take part in Young Enterprise. For further details contact Carol Buckman.
Prakash Lalwani – 28th February 2013
If you want to find out more to get involved then please contact:
Business Gateway Manager
T: 0151 291 3285