You haven’t heard about it? You’re a student you say. And you go to the University of Manchester? No, you’re a graduate. Well, well… You know what? It doesn’t matter, I’m not angry. Now you know. In fact, in this interview I speak to your president, the President of Manchester Entrepreneurs about the reasons why you should be there. 48 hours of awesomeness. It is being held at TechHub Manchester from the 12th-14th of April. Applications close soon, so you should probably apply here (www.f6s.com/startuphacks) It’s a great opportunity to meet with ambitious, like-minded university students and graduates around the UK.
Hi Fahim, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Hi Joseph, I'm doing really well thank you, I just came back from a TEDx event in Manchester, so I'm feeling very inspired!
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
Sure. I'm currently studying Economics and Politics at the University of Manchester. I'm currently President of Manchester Entrepreneurs whilst cofounding a seed accelerator for student startups, an entrepreneurship hub which helps a number of startups seek investment, mentorship and valuable international partnerships.
I've been part of non-tech and tech startups whilst facilitating events and meet-ups for entrepreneurs whilst studying in University of Manchester. I'm incredibly passionate about helping startups and developing an entrepreneurial culture amongst members of society.
When did you get the entrepreneurial bug?
I've been really interested in entrepreneurship before university, setting up websites and popup stalls since a young age, but I've really immersed myself in the entrepreneur way of life whilst at University- working on startups such as Pieboy Clothing (www.pieboyclothing.co.uk), Student Money Saver, App4App, Startup Hacks (www.startuphacks.co) and a number of others in an advisory capacity.
I've always believed in entrepreneurship being a way of conducting yourself and leading your life, but I've only been able to hone it further as I've grown older. I'm really grateful of being around like-minded, ambitious people that have helped me turn this "instinct" into something more substance.
How did the idea for Startup Hacks come about?
Students and graduates are often unable to showcase their skills at university, so as part of Manchester Entrepreneurs and our philosophy of inspiring and educating individuals on their road to success through collaboration and openness, we have decided to work on a dedicated event for individuals interested in tech entrepreneurship that brings together individuals from a business, design, marketing, engineering and programming background.
A couple of friends and I thought about creating a UK-wide student-led hackathon and bringing the best students and graduates from around the UK- not only would this be a landmark event in the Manchester Entrepreneurs calendar, but will also provide a rich alumni network for future participants- whilst causing a lot of havoc in a mere 48 hours. I got in touch with my friend River at Aspyre and we decided to collaborate to set up the event.
We also thought we could get some of the most established companies and partners to work with us on this lucrative project for UK Tech Entrepreneurship. So far, we're working with our excellent sponsors, which include the likes of Microsoft, Innospace, MEC , UMIC, Nerve and General Assembly.
What is Startup Hacks? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Startup Hacks is a student-led hackathon where the most exceptional students will create, develop and build a startup in 48 hours. With exposure to established media partners, VC partners and the international technology scene, it will be an enriching and valuable experience for any participant.
We aim to give the brightest students from around the UK the opportunity to collaborate and develop a startup in 48 hours. In the 21st century, we're participating in a knowledge-based economy and developing your network and real connections has never been more important, therefore this gives participants to enrich their circles, whilst best showcasing their abilities to a wider audience- including potential employers, collaborators and partners.
Tell me about Manchester Entrepreneurs and your overall picture for it. What are you trying to create?
Manchester Entrepreneurs is one of the largest enterprise societies in the UK- boasting over 3,750 members. It was founded in 2008, and has come on leaps and strides since. The aim is to encourage and support entrepreneurship at university by empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs. With help from a number of organisations ( including NACUE, TechHub Manchester, Manchester Enterprise Centre and UoM's Innovation Centre) we are able to put on a wide range of events, conferences, hackathons and facilitate opportunities to accelerate student startups through investment, mentoring and unique partnerships with the wider community.
During my role as President, I have done a number of things such as working with a team of 25 to deliver over 30+ events, setup an entrepreneurship hub and student-run seed accelerator which will be ready very soon. I have further developed strong partnerships with over six enterprise schools across the region and over ten schools of discipline at UoM to deliver bespoke events on a large scale. None of this would've been possible without an extremely strong and motivated team who've supported every endeavour.
Creating an enterprising culture at the largest university in the UK is a tough ask, but we've been working on it for a long time with a number of organisations, and we've gone from strength to strength with their support. Each year, I see more enterprising students who are engaged with the startup culture and are determined to set up their own business.
Tell us about the start-up scene in Manchester, what exciting things can we expect to see? Do you feel it can compete with the scene in London?
I can safely say, Manchester is booming. Well, almost. Since I've moved to Manchester, I've definitely seen more numbers at every startup event so everyone is coming out of the woodwork and we're developing a strong, close-knit startup community; a number of startups have received excellent coverage in major news sources and sought investment based on growth figures. This has only been possible by the coordination of activities and coming together of this great city. I can only ask for more of the same. I would love to see talented students forgoing any other career for startup life while staying in Manchester and increasing the concentration of startups in the city.
London has developed over a longer period of time and has received healthy injections of capital to develop this further (being raised in London, I can only see this as a good thing), but there are a lot of competitive advantages Manchester can check off the list: a world-class university at the doorstep, regional funds flowing through the city and investment in infrastructure and technology hubs. Not to mention, the cheap cost of living and the strong sense of community that is being cultivated. I'd have to say, you need to keep an eye on this space.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The growth of Pieboy clothing and the role Manchester Entrepreneurs initially played in its growth is probably something that I look towards as being a successful project. Seeing the entire committee work towards turning that into a successful business was a truly remarkable sight.
As mentioned, I've always loved helping people with their startups, so seeing some of the companies move forward to a point of seed investment is always something I'm grateful to be a part of.
Why should anyone or students in particular that are thinking of starting a business come to this event? What can they expect to gain from this?
Startup Hacks will be one of those events that participants will hopefully look back on, and think that's where that one valuable connection had come from, or where they got that lucrative press coverage, or - perhaps most interestingly for us- and that's where their company started. Ambitious, like-minded university students aim to meet as many people as possible and want to be part of something that will create an impact. Startup Hacks is THAT impact.
What should we be expecting from yourself and Manchester Entrepreneurs in the coming months?
With Manchester Entrepreneurs, we aim to work with international partners whilst developing a strong level of retention among startup founders. I'm looking for more investment flows, and more startups to be spinning out of the society.
With myself, I plan on working on developing my tech startup with an awesome team, and seeing where we go in 12 months. It's an exciting time to launch a company and I think Manchester is the right city to be in for startups. As always, I love helping startups and like-minded people so I hope to do plenty more of this very soon.
Startup hacks will be taking place on the 12th-14th April at TechHub Manchester. Applications close soon, so apply here (www.f6s.com/startuphacks)