Enterprising students win awards for new businesses
Morgan Dowler, who will graduate in July in BA (Hons) Business Management, Matthew Pawley due to graduate in BA (Hons) Computing and Karen Vera who completed her MSc in Construction Law and Dispute Resolution in 2010, are set to have a great start to their careers as entrepreneurs thanks to the awards.
The Vice Chancellor's Enterprise Scholarships, of which Leeds Metropolitan Vice Chancellor Professor Susan Price is the founding donor, provide Leeds Metropolitan graduates with £3,000 of funding each, including support through the University's business incubator, QU2; dedicated business advisors and mentors; profiling and networking opportunities; membership of the Leeds Chamber of Commerce; and a city centre business address, for 12 months.
Morgan Dowler will be using the funding to set up her business, Love Me and My Secret Ltd, which will market a new and specialist brand of underwear, specifically designed for breast cancer patients. The 21-year-old said the idea originated when a family friend failed to find products to suit her needs after her breast cancer operation.
Morgan commented: "I am more determined than ever to get this product into stores with my mum currently going through the same situation. The lingerie which is presently for sale for breast cancer patients is far from aesthetically pleasing and I want to create products that women will want to wear and that will make them feel good about themselves.
"I connected with 60 breast cancer patients as part of my research into this as I wanted my products to address what their main worries are. As a result of their feedback it is my plan that each bra will be well fitted and made with quality and scar comfort at the forefront of the design process to ensure that the scars are covered. The lingerie will be made from the finest natural fabric.
"The scholarship will really make a difference as it means that I can get my ideas and the company off the ground, establishing the prototypes and the products. Initially this company will start off at home until it produces enough profit for office space to be rented."
Karen Vera will be using the funding to set up her business, Jubilee Law Ltd., a specialist law firm based in Cloth Hall Court in Quebec Street, Leeds. The firm will provide cost competitive, quality legal services in the areas of construction and planning law to companies operating in the fields of building, construction and engineering and development and regeneration. Karen also intends to provide commercial mediation services to companies and individuals operating in these areas.
She said: "In the current economic climate, there is a general desire for companies to control their legal spend. Most law firms bill their clients using an hourly rate model. The business model we are pursuing is to provide upfront clear pricing which we believe will assist companies and individuals to control their legal budgets and give our business a competitive edge. There are a number of mid-sized companies operating in these areas seeking cost-effective legal services which are comparative in quality to national law firms. Our intention is to provide clear pricing which meets their needs.
"The scholarship is going to assist greatly as it will provide us with the financial backup required to develop our website, www.jubileelaw.com, to meet up-front business costs and to advertise Jubilee Law in two important and targeted publications, one which is with Leeds City Council."
Matthew Pawley will use the scholarship funding to progress his business EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) Online, www.epos-online.co.uk. The web application provides an online point of sale, administration, booking software and customer login portal for business within the leisure, beauty and retail sectors.
Businesses can register themselves on the site and set up a monthly payment scheme, managing everything from their employees to their tills, bookings, customers, products, transactions, reports, stock and pricing. The software can be accessed on desktop and handheld devices and also works with hardware such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers and card swipe.
The idea for EPOS Online was developed as part of Matthew's degree when he had to come up with an online business as part of his final year project. The scholarship will help him further develop the product adding in a checkout facility and in-depth audit logging and testing.
He said: "Most of the work has been completed, however it will require continued development to keep it up to date. Within six months I would like to have the software tested in a real world environment and look at marketing the product to other businesses.
"I am aiming to officially launch EPOS Online in early 2014 and have already secured a deal with Leap Golf (www.leapgolf.co.uk) an innovate golf coaching experience."
Professor Price commented: "Our 2013 student and graduate finalists were of an exceptionally high standard. Morgan, Karen and Matthew's business plans are innovative, inspirational and exciting and this scholarship will be a real lifeline to help establish their success.
"Our students are the professionals of the future, making important and valued contributions to society. In these tough economic times with high levels of job uncertainty, research is finding that more of our students and graduates are considering starting their own business; and leading economists are reporting that the best way for us to stimulate our economy is to encourage small business growth to increase job creation. Being housed in our business incubator increases companies' chances of trading after year one from 50% to 95%."