Name: Ebrahim Turner
Course: BSc Economics
The Student Portal will be a website based platform to connect students with local employers via universities. Why?
- To help students get engaged early on in their university life
- To help students find out what they might actually like to do in life
- Young people are bombarded with possibilities and opportunities, this refines them
- To remove barriers and let students talk directly to employers - the old fashioned way!
Students will be able to create professional profiles, similar to LinkedIn, but focused around getting work experience, internships, part-time work, graduate jobs and networking with like-minded students.
Local SMEs will be able to create company pages and carry out specific searches to find students who have the skills and interests to match their requirements. For example, Company A needs a third year marketing student interested in social media management, who is looking for £22K a year, graduating with a 2:1 and wants to start in July. They will then send them a direct message and connect with the student, removing strenuous application processes.
Students can connect with other students via the news feed, and they can post on the feed along with local companies, making TSP a social platform as well as a professional one.
How did UEA Student Enterprise help you?
UEA Student Enterprise was instrumental in kick starting the idea but also making me think about all the various aspects of the business, from value propositions, to partnerships, right down to the numbers. Not just this but meeting one-on-one and talking helped me refine the idea but also develop confidence, to the point where I can pitch the idea to anyone in 30 seconds. Amongst many other things, I was also put in touch with some great new contacts which have helped me pivot the idea where necessary and getting closer to success one step at a time by building a network of great people.
What worries did you have while setting up your business, and how did you overcome them?
One worry I had initially was if students, employers and universities would want to use the platform. This was overcome by getting in front of as many relevant people as possible and taking their valued feedback on board - it turns out most students want a simple way to connect with employers, and employers want a simple cost-effective way to find good employees. Oh, and universities care a lot about graduate employment and rankings!
What motivates you?
I'm motivated by freedom. To me, being an entrepreneur is the best way of having freedom. You make your own decisions, what you put in you get out and you are primarily responsible for yourself. That said, I want to achieve something that has a lasting impact and can help as many people as possible. I truly believe The Student Portal can do that, and with that in mind I have to ask myself, how can I not be motivated to get out of bed every single day and put my all into making this a reality?
How do you define success?
To me, success is what I just mentioned, which is having a lasting impact and creating something that goes far beyond my name. I'm not primarily motivated by financial gain, however being successful also means being able to help your family, provide for your own family one day, and give to worthy causes throughout your life. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so naive to think that I don't need money to get there, but it's the options that it gives you and having this freedom is what success is to me.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I'm struggling to think of one specific moment, but I would have to say when I speak to somebody new about my idea, and they respond with 'how do I sign up?' or 'how is this not already being done?!'. It is truly satisfying to know that people are interested in something I care a lot about.
What piece of advice would you give to university students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Stop thinking, start doing. There are so many incredibly intellectual students who have the capability to do great things, but they are paralysed by 'what if?' or 'maybe it won't work'. Even if my business fails (which I sincerely hope it doesn't) I can honestly say that what I've learnt along the way has changed my life for good and there's no looking back.
Even if you try something and it turns out to be 'wrong' or it fails, it's better to do something because you can always take something away and learn.
Lastly, I would say develop a thick skin ASAP. understand that some people won't be your supporters, your business might not be aligned with theirs, or maybe they just don't really care, or in most cases, don't have the time. Don't take things personally, the chances are the person who's feeding back negatively isn't doing so because they don't like you as a person, it's probably for one of the reasons I just mentioned.