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Support, Funding, Inspiration: University is the Best Place to Start a Business

Tue, 10 May 2016

Contributed by Shell LiveWIRE winner and Filamentive founder Ravi Toor
This is the second blog in the Shell LiveWIRE series celebrating and demystifying student entrepreneurship.
Pursuing a hobby, escaping the 9-5 routine, and having the dream of building a business empire – just some of the reasons why a third of students are considering starting a business.
Profit from Your Surroundings
Although some follow careers with no relation to their degree, others take inspiration from their studies, and entrepreneurship is no exception. I am currently studying Environment and Business at the University of Leeds, and I truly believe the knowledge of sustainability and corporate social responsibility were key factors in the founding of Filamentive, a brand of 3D printing materials, encompassing environmental credentials.
With tens of thousands of students, university campuses allow young entrepreneurs access to a large market, and many business ideas flourish as a result of exploiting market niches that benefit their peers. For example, in 2015, a Plymouth University student launched a food delivery service, catering for hungover students who wanted food from their favourite restaurants without having to physically go there.
Funding and Support
Cash is king; many of us have business ideas, but an absence of start-up capital inhibits many students from realising their dream. Many organisations exist to help young entrepreneurs fund their new ventures, and I of course benefitted from Shell LiveWIRE, who offer a £5,000 monthly award for sustainability-orientated businesses, as well as an annual £25,000 Young Entrepreneur of Year Award.

The help given by my university has also been vital in the development of my business, Filamentive. As Entrepreneurial University of the Year, the University of Leeds is well placed to support young entrepreneurs like myself. Leeds offers a Year in Enterprise placement programme – offering business advice, office space and £5,000 in living costs allowance, which not only provided vital start-up funding, but also the opportunity to focus solely on my business without academic distractions. I have also been awarded a £3000 enterprise scholarship and recently won the coveted Sir Peter Thompson award – a £5000 prize given by the serial entrepreneur and former Leeds student. Many universities like Leeds also have experienced career departments and business advisors, who can give support of every business aspect, from business planning and sales training, to social media tips and growth strategy.

(No) Fear of Failure
With the vast majority of university students being under the age of 21, young entrepreneurs wanting to pursue a venture are generally free to do so without the pressures of everyday adult life (yet!). If failure does occur, young entrepreneurs are fully aware of the plethora of safety nets that exist, such as student finance, part-time employment and the bank of mum and dad!
Self Development
Whatever your career ambitions after university, it is important to develop as a person first and foremost. Whatever the outcome of your business venture, you will undoubtedly gain from the experience. If all goes to plan, you will be able to make a living doing what you do best, and even if you do not see success with this idea, the experience and knowledge you have gained from running a start-up will no doubt place you in a better position to succeed, whether that is in academia, employed work or your next business idea! 

About Ravi Toor (Founder of Filamentive)
Ravi is a 2015 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist and is currently running two businesses, – an online 3D printing retailer, as well as Filamentive – a brand of sustainable 3D printing materials. Ravi is also an undergraduate at the University of Leeds studying a BA in Environment and Business and is currently on the Year in Enterprise programme as part of his placement year. 
You can follow Filamentive on Twitter @filamentive


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