Names: Nuno Alexandre Bento and Aditya Suryadinata
Course: MSc in Management
ENGIZED is a platform dedicated to promoting and rewarding graphic designers and illustrators from all over the world. Designers submit their designs to compete against others in a design challenge, in order to win cash prizes starting from £300. Our community votes to decide who wins the challenge. This community power is one of the aspects that differentiates us from our competitors. As well as the prizes we also sell the Top 10 graphics from each challenge in our gallery. Customers can have their chosen graphic on a range of products (t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, phone cases and other accessories).
What inspired you to set up this business?
It all started when we researched companies that were selling t-shirts. T-shirts are one of the most popular items in the world. Most people have many t-shirts at home, and if a design is unique and they love it, they have a tendency to buy. Also we have realised that many graphic artists are freelancers and they are often open to new challenges.
Combining these two trends we figured out that we could offer something unique and fresh to this market. After studying our competitors we built a website that offers some unique features and has the potential to be an important part of this market that targets designers and t-shirt lovers.
How did UEA Student Enterprise help you?
Since the beginning, we have been in contact with UEA Student Enterprise, namely Finbarr. He helped us by criticising our project in order to make us improve it. We were introduced to contacts from different amazing professionals to increase our network and get more feedback. Aditya, the other co-founder of this project, got a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa sponsored by UEA. We also received help applying for a grant, and with promotional and marketing activities.
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business rather than look for work from someone else?
Although I have worked in some companies with amazing cultures I always wanted the opportunity to create a company with the values and culture that I have in mind. When we started to think about this project, it was a very exciting business for me, plus I could incorporate my IT skills into it (I have a BSc in Computer Engineering). Since the beginning I took this project very seriously. Day by day I become more invested in this project. Every day, every single minute, especially when I was going to work, I was trying to find a way to improve the business and I have started to envision the future of this venture.
Starting your own business gives you the opportunity to set your own direction, make changes, create your own culture and follow your values.
What worries did you have while setting up your business, and how did you overcome them?
Creating a business is really tough. You could believe that because it is an online business, it would be easy, but it is not. Here are some of problems we had:
- Finding the right offer to attract users to the platform
- Re-assessing our financial capabilities in order to finance the website
- Finding the best web design company
- Business and banking administration
- Finding the right suppliers with the best prizes
- Ensuring the quality of our products
- Promote the business
Most of the time, the way that we overcame these problems was through experience and testing. If we tried something and it wasn’t right, we would try another way.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
- Courage - There will be many many many barriers (financial, resources, lack of skills, etc) to overcome. You need to be courageous to carry on. If you really believe, never give up!
- Adaptability - Sometimes things do not happen as we expect. Maybe the strategy that we thought would be successful actually is not. So there is a need to adapt to different scenarios. This is very important.
- Long-term investment/vision - Sometimes some people will say that you are just wasting your money and time. They can’t see your vision. Overnight success may take years. You need to be patient and believe in what you are doing.
A great lesson that we have learnt from ENGIZED: Don't try to make your product/service perfect. It will never be 100% perfect. It will just delay the launch. Go, launch, and improve it continuously.
We have delayed our launch because we wanted everything on our website to work perfectly before. It was a mistake, and we have changed our mindset about that.
What motivates you?
Sometimes I get frustrated, however every battle just makes me stronger and more motivated to go further. Mainly what motivates me is to believe that one day I will be the inspiration of many people. And through the business I will be able to create considerable positive social impact.
How do you define success?
For me success is based on self-satisfaction, achieving goals and happiness. When I feel happy after doing my "work" I consider it success. Actually, in life what matters is happiness. Success can't happen without happiness.
I have a dream to be a role model by inspiring people to do positive things to this world, make it better. Success is an on-going process, not just a single moment. Each time that I inspire someone to do good things I will consider a successful fragment added to my "Successful Journey".
Where did your funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? Was UEA Student Enterprise part of this?
All the money was raised by ourselves. I worked full-time while I was doing my full-time masters as well. Life in London plus the university is very expensive. I didn't have money at all for the business. By working full-time in a food chain, it allowed me to get some money to invest. At one time after graduation I was working two other jobs full time. It was hard. We have applied for a grant and if it is successful it will be a great help to support our marketing strategies and help on our production costs.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
When we launched and many artists from all over the world gave us great feedback. I thought: "Wow we are really getting worldwide!"
What piece of advice would you give to university students who want to become entrepreneurs?
While you are at university, take all the chances to communicate, share and get feedback from many students and specially from many experienced and skilled professors/staff. We started this project while we were studying and all the time we tried to get feedback from everyone, get some important network and discuss ideas. It was wonderful experience; we really recommend it.
Don't start a company just because you simply want to start a company. You must be truly interested in it, if there is a market for it, then there are people out there who will to pay you to do what you love to do.