The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Venture Further: a taste of success

University of Manchester student Leopoldo Herrera-Rodríguez launched his first start-up idea thanks to Venture Further, and you could do the same

By

Manchester Enterprise Centre is looking to support the next big start-up from the University of Manchester through Venture Further 2017, inviting students and recent alumni to submit a business proposal to an expert judging panel of enterprise and business professionals.

The competition allows for individuals or groups to receive expert feedback on their business ideas and gives them an opportunity to win a £10,000 cash injection to get their business off the ground.

Previous winners and finalists have included craft beer company Shindigger Brewing Co., baby carrier business Joy and Joe, online payments system MishiPay and social enterprise Social Growth.

While studying for his PhD in Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, University of Manchester student Leopoldo Herrera-Rodríguez noticed that so often students who create their own start-up fail to move the business forward, due to a lack of access to the right skills. Recognising the need to remove this significant barrier to progress, Leopoldo founded Student Talent Pool, a service that matches students with certain skills to internal university start-ups.

Working with his team of Alex Geddes and Eileen Brandenberger, they entered their idea into Manchester Enterprise Centre’s Venture Further competition in 2016, and were announced as runner up in the social category.

“Students often struggle to bridge the gap between having a great idea and transforming that into a viable business that attracts investment, as they do not have access to the broad range of skills necessary to do this,” Leopoldo says. “A classic example is someone who has developed a brilliant concept for an app, but does not know an app developer, so the project falls flat before it has even begun. We knew that there was huge pool of talent at the university, and we wanted to leverage this to ensure more start-ups had the chance to be successful, uniting people with a common entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Today’s job market is incredibly competitive, so the more hands-on business experience you have, the better. A start-up environment is the perfect place to refine and build on your existing skills, but also develop new ones — the collaborative environment means you find yourself doing a bit of everything, which is a really valuable addition to anyone’s CV.

“Venture Further was a fantastic opportunity for us. We benefitted greatly from the interaction with other start-ups, as it allowed us to refine our own ideas by learning about the challenges they face. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the experience to anyone looking to validate their business idea, refine their business plans to make them the best they can be, and receive invaluable feedback and guidance from the experts at Manchester Enterprise Centre.”

Dr. Martin Henery, Venture Competition Director, said: “Venture Further is the perfect platform to put your plans to the test. We are here every step of the way to help you take your idea and turn it into a viable business;  many past entrants — not just the winners — have gone on to launch and sustain successful ventures.

“By the same token, many of our students already have their own businesses, and Venture Further is here to give them a boost and take their enterprise to the next level.”

Venture Further is supported by Jacobs, Manchester Science Partnership and Waters. The deadline for applications is 29th March. For more information visit the website.