Coronavirus (COVID-19) is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. As we move through these times of uncertainty it is impacting us all.
The world has ground to a halt, with air quality having significantly improved in many countries and water cleaner than it has been in our lifetime. However, it is undeniable that there are some rather unexpected side-effects. Not just the fact that nature and the environment is thriving, but also the innovation that it has unleashed. It has shown that mankind is remarkably resilient and able to make lemonade out of lemons, when needed.
Entrepreneurship and innovation are important for economic growth; entrepreneurial activities not only boost technology and design innovation, but they provide employment opportunities and increase competitiveness.
If you are already running a small business or about to embark on your entrepreneurial journey, at this crucial point it comes down to fight-or-flight; do you run from the problem or fully immerse yourself in it?
If you choose to fully immerse yourself in it, then the Student StartUp team is here to help and guide you through these uncertain times. Over the past 9 weeks we have advised students and graduates on business ideas ranging from freelance animation to freelance artists, sustainable fashion brands and some amazing innovative product development ideas.
Much of this support has been done in partnership with Santander Universities. It is largely thanks to them and the organisation’s desire to encourage entrepreneurship in Higher Education that we have been able to offer seed funding to over 28 student and graduate businesses, totalling over £20,000.
Of course, there are other ways to raise money for your startup idea and these include crowdfunding; an innovative method of raising capital with the help of contributions from the public. Of course, it is natural to be hesitant about raising money during the COVID-19 pandemic,however research is showing that there has been an impressive upsurge in the number reward based crowdfunding campaigns launched across the country and the growth in community spirit is fostering these fund-raising attempts.
So where should you start if you think this is the way forward for you?
Decide which type of crowdfunding to use. There are several and each type has its own purpose and differs significantly from the others. The 4 main ones are reward-based / donation based / equity based / peer to peer lending
Decide which crowdfunding platform is right for your venture. The most popular ones are Crowdfunders UK / IndieGoGo / Patreon / Kickstarter. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages so you need to do your research.
Look at other successful projects - what works and what doesn’t.
Share your story and build your network. Use social media, contact bloggers and influencers; you can even host an event to build your network. You need to have a solid network of interested people in place before you launch.
Set a funding target - how much do you need to raise and what will this be spent on?
Decide which incentives and rewards to offer and source these from contributors
Finally - just get started. You can create a draft campaign on your chosen platform, keep developing this until you are ready to go live. Once the campaign is live, stay focussed and keep the momentum going for the duration.
Looking at the bigger picture, the British government has unveiled plans for a “Future Fund” to ensure startups and loss-making companies receive enough investment to remain afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.This support will help early-stage innovators survive the crisis and thrive after it.
The Student StartUp team (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the University of Portsmouth is also here to help you take your idea from conception to reality and navigate the early years of working for yourself.
So there are a few thoughts from us that just might get you thinking……….now could be the time to embrace entrepreneurship.