How SU Enterprise Helped Me Start My Business
If you’ve got the drive and innovation, Belfast is the place to make your entrepreneurial dreams happen - find out how Computer Science graduate Liam has benefitted from the support and advice offered by SU Enterprise.
Starting your own business while you're still a student can feel like stepping into a whirlwind of unknowns. It's an exciting, ambitious, and often overwhelming process. In the middle of this storm, finding someone or something that supports you can change the whole game. For me, that game-changer was SU Enterprise. SU Enterprise is an amazing team of people within Queen’s that help students get their business ideas off the ground. Thanks to their support, I've been able to create and grow my own business – BrandCanvas, an AI-powered graphic design service for small businesses.
Diving into Entrepreneurship: The QUB Dragon's Den Competition
My first real taste of the business world came with the QUB Dragon's Den competition. This is SU Enterprise’s flagship competition where students pitch their business idea to a panel of judges in order to win a share of the £20,000 prize pot! I learned so much from this experience and came away with £250 to put towards my business. This competition was a great way to test my ideas, and get feedback from seasoned businesspeople. We received expert guidance from entrepreneur Helen Keys, and 1:1 pitch training from pitching coach Henry Blanchard. Most importantly, it was an amazing opportunity to meet like-minded students!
Taking the Next Step: The QUest Programme
The Dragon's Den experience opened up another opportunity for me: the QUest programme (with SU Enterprise, QUBIS, and The Helix Way). This 12-week programme is designed to help entrepreneurs like me to validate their idea by talking directly to customers. We receive coaching from expert businesspeople and entrepreneurs, and then pitch at the end of the 12 weeks for a share of £100,000! I'm still in the middle of the programme, but I've already learned so much about engaging with customers and fine-tuning my business strategies.
The programme can open up doors to investment, networks, IP expertise and further opportunities
Broadening My Horizons: A Trip to Berlin
Another unique and eye-opening experience that SU Enterprise provided was a trip to Berlin. Together with 20 other student entrepreneurs, I had the chance to visit companies like Babbel and The Next Big Thing, as well as attend the hub.berlin tech conference. This trip not only gave me a glimpse into the international business world, but it also helped me build my confidence when it comes to networking in a professional setting. By far the best thing about this trip however, was being surrounded by 20 other motivated student entrepreneurs who were all pursuing their own business ideas. Their drive was contagious, giving a unique energy to the trip that made the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Belfast to Berlin
A Big Decision: From Student to Entrepreneur
One of the most significant turning points in my journey was choosing to quit my graduate job to focus on my business full-time, after SU Enterprise helped me to secure £15,000 in funding from InvestNI’s From Student To First Sale programme. This was a pivotal moment, one that allowed me to completely immerse myself in my business, and wouldn’t have been possible without the support from SU Enterprise.
The Significant Role of SU Enterprise
It’s been a busy year! Looking back on my journey, I can confidently say that SU Enterprise provided the foundation, knowledge, and the support network I needed to turn my business idea from a concept into reality. Starting a business in the final year of university isn’t easy, but they've been there to support me at every step of the journey - from having 1:1 meetings with me, to hosting competitions and programmes that helped me refine my idea. They even provided £1,500 funding through the Make it Happen Fund, which helps students start or develop their new business! SU Enterprise has shaped my career for the better, and I genuinely can’t thank them enough.
SU Enterprise offers opportunities to develop your business ideas and network with peers
Advice for Fellow Student Entrepreneurs
If you're a student and have even a flicker of an idea, or the slightest interest in entrepreneurship, please don't hesitate to get involved with SU Enterprise. They provide hands-on experiences and practical insights that go beyond what you can learn in any lecture hall. You can book a 1:1 with the team here, or reach them on firstname.lastname@example.org! Good luck!
Find out more
Computer Science | Undergraduate Student | Donegal, Ireland
I’m a 21 year old student from Donegal, and I’ve just graduated from Queen’s with a degree in Computer Science. During my final year at university, I started a graphic design business called BrandCanvas with the support of SU Enterprise, and I’m working on that full-time now!