Karis Gill (graduated in 2018, Business and Marketing) took a bold step and has no regrets.
University is a great time to try out clubs and activities to narrow down your interests. For me, the breakthrough was discovering social enterprise on my year abroad in Vancouver, when I joined the Social Enterprise Club. I remember being amazed that I had not come across the concept before. It just seemed so obvious that businesses could support social causes too. I met the founders of social enterprises, some of the smartest, most creative and kind people I have ever met and I knew I had met my tribe. This gave me a wealth of inspiration for exciting ways businesses can solve social issues. One of the best pieces of advice was from one of my professors, who recommended when coming up with an idea for your social enterprise fall in love with the problem, not the solution. I have always remembered this and if you are looking for an idea, this is a great starting point to think what social issues you are passionate about solving.
When I came back from my year abroad I wanted to find out why more people were not engaging with socially-conscious brands. This research became the base for the launch of Social Stories Club. We aim to shine a light on these wonderful ventures by sharing their stories through socially-conscious gift boxes. We not only want to educate people on what brands are out there but also make it easier for people to purchase amazing socially-conscious products. It feels incredible to relive my excitement of learning about social enterprise by sharing stories with others.
Making the most of the University
Starting a business in the last year of university can feel overwhelming, but remember you always have the time others are spending applying for graduate jobs. I was meant to be working 9-5 on my dissertation, however, in reality, my side project had taken over. To make this work I was going to have to hit two birds with one stone and use my dissertation as market research for my own venture. My dissertation sought to find out why more students are not purchasing ethically and how to encourage this practice. The data I collected was extremely useful in proving my concept later on, but the biggest benefit was that my mindset was focused in the same area. I also chose my modules based on what I thought would be most relevant to Social Stories Club, which really changed my learning experience as I was starting to apply what I was learning in lectures, which I had never done before.
The University also put on many events, competitions and workshops where we could meet and learn from like-minded people. Edinburgh Entrepreneurs, E Club, and LaunchEd run events which are great for networking. LaunchEd provided us with an amazing mentor and gave us an initial grant to get us going.
Finding a Business Partner
A business partner someone to share your excitement with and bounce ideas off. My business partner Aayush and I work well together as we have similar values and work ethics. There are so many skills needed for business including finance and accounting, marketing, branding, social media, logistics and customer service. To be excellent in all these areas is extremely rare and it is hard for one person to give enough attention to each area. Aayush enjoys finance and accounting, the part I detest, and I joke that I do all the fun stuff and he does all the hard stuff. If you are looking for a business partner at university, I would recommend attending the three-day start-up program (3DS) run by LaunchEd.
We have only just started our adventures with Social Stories Club and we are very excited to see where this goes. If you would like to check out our website visit https://socialstoriesclub.com and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Image Karis Gill)
(Image Karis Gill)