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Students Inspired to Build Their Entrepreneurial Mindset at Entrepreneurship Vibes 2019 Event

More than 100 University of Reading and Henley Business School students attended the Entrepreneurship Vibes 2019 event on 22 October 2019, where they found out about the opportunities to put entrepreneurship into practice and were inspired by a range of speakers to become an entrepreneur and change the world.

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The event, led by Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCfE), is held annually and is open to all students, whatever their programme of study. The purpose of the event is to share with students the support that HCfE offers aspiring entrepreneurs, from expert business advice and mentoring to events and competitions for students to take part in, with the potential to win prize money to go towards developing their business idea.

The event was opened by Prof Andrew Godley, the Academic Director of HCfE, who outlined how entrepreneurship was taught to students through HCfE's various modules. Andrew told the students about HCfE's international recognition, having been chosen by the AACSB as one of only two UK entrepreneurship centres as a winner of their 2017 Spotlight Challenge. This ranks HCfE in the top 20 centres for entrepreneurship in the world and Andrew emphasised that this was reflected in the teaching on entrepreneurship modules, with a focus on putting entrepreneurship into practice while also exploring the relevant theories and research. He also highlighted how the uniqueness of the Reading area as the 'Silicon Valley of the UK' strategically positions students to take advantage of the various opportunities that HCfE has for them in developing entrepreneurial skills.

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Jurek Sikorski, HCfE's Executive Director, then took to the stage to share the extra-curricular initiatives offered by the centre that students can sign up to and benefit from by putting their teaching into practice. Jurek kept the audience hooked by laying out the journey that HCfE guides students through, from the first steps of booking a slot at the Business Idea Clinic and joining the Entrepreneurship Hub to entering the IDEAFEST Student Business Idea Competition and attending the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp to turn those business ideas into something tangible. Jurek highlighted examples of past students to add further weight to the idea of a 'journey', sharing Magnus Ronning's story of setting up a clothing brand and winning IDEAFEST 2017 to help propel him onto even greater heights.

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Julia Kala spoke next, sharing her insights as the president of the student-led Entrepreneurship Society and inviting students to join the Entrepreneurship Society's programme of events for themselves. She outlined the benefits of having a series of outstanding guest speakers to share their business expertise and how useful it was for attending students to network with one another, building connections and potential partnerships for both IDEAFEST and beyond.

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The audience were then privileged to have a talk by University of Reading alumni Andrew Ingle and Katie Falcon-Uff, who founded TimeTrap Escape Rooms after graduating. Andrew engaged the students by sharing the twists and turns on the journey to set up TimeTrap and his core message about the importance for entrepreneurs to build relationships with the people around them struck a chord.

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At this point the room became energised as Dr Lebene Soga, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Leadership, got students on their feet and networking with his Entrepreneurship Buddy (aka 'E-Buddy') programme. All the students were given the challenge to work out their entrepreneurial 'vibe' by taking a coloured wristband which each had an entrepreneurial trait embossed on them (purple meant 'creative', green meant 'team player', blue meant 'adaptable' and orange meant 'visionary'). Once the students had selected a wristband, they had to find three other students with different wristbands to their own, share their entrepreneurial aims for the future and sign up as E-Buddy teams to the IDEAFEST Promotional Video Competition. Each team that submit a video would be in with the chance to win a cash prize of up to £500, so the room had a real buzz of activity as students took full advantage of the opportunity to meet new people and build connections.

Reflecting on the success of the E-Buddy initiative and Entrepreneurship Vibes 2019 in general, Lebene said, "It was inspiring to see such strong student engagement in the community of entrepreneurship that the Vibes event generated last year and this year’s Entrepreneurship Vibes was no exception. I was delighted to see many students from across the wider university, not just the Henley Business School, getting involved and taking on the challenge of developing entrepreneurial skills. I believe students are catching the spirit of the entrepreneurial mindset and are beginning to take active steps in building their careers."

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The finale of the event was a talk from ConnectTVT’s Louize Clarke, who invited the assembled audience to attend the upcoming Festival of Digital Disruption and Connect Talks events. She also gave students the chance to become members of the Curious Lounge, a skills and event hub based in Reading town centre offering a vibrant programme of speakers, events and training around technical, creative, digital and life skills.

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Several students also won some fun Entrepreneurship Vibes prizes in a quiz that Jurek led, from limited edition Entrepreneurship Vibes caps to tickets for TimeTrap and the Festival of Digital disruption. All students took away a summary of all HCfE's upcoming events and initiatives, with many pledging there and then to get involved and continue on their entrepreneurial journeys.

Rounding up the event, Jurek called all students to take action with his five takeaways:

  • Become a member of the Entrepreneurship Society and attend their events.
  • Build your entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Put the E-Buddy programme into practice and produce a video to submit to the IDEAFEST Promotional Video Competition.
  • Request tickets for the Festival of Digital Disruption and on particular the 'Start-Up Stories' event on 20 November 2019.
  • Become an entrepreneur and change the world!

The afternoon wrapped up with a serving of delicious pizza and cake, with students enjoying the well-earned lunch.

This is what some of the students had to say:

Malak Al Lawati: "Entrepreneurship Vibes was an extremely informative and interactive event. As students, we were given the opportunity to learn about the Business Idea and Start-Up Clinic, the Henley Summer Start-Up Boot Camp, the Entrepreneurship Society and IDEAFEST. I was very happy knowing that Henley Business School provides numerous facilities to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Moreover, what I loved most about the event was the excitement and enthusiasm coursing all over the room. Knowing we have a safe and helpful environment to turn to when thinking about an idea or a business plan made me feel motivated and excited about the future. Also, the owner of TimeTrap Escape Rooms highlighted the importance of networking and making connections, but more importantly, he demonstrated the power of passion and hard work in order to build a successful and rewarding business. Professor Andrew Godley pointed out that an entrepreneur isn't born, but is made. Hearing that made me feel inspired and encouraged to put in the required work and effort in order to achieve my goals."

Thea Garcia: "The Entrepreneurship Vibes event is not one to be missed. Regardless if you are taking a business course or not, everyone is and can be an entrepreneur after coming to this event! Listening to the success stories and the networking activity has inspired me to overcome my fears and take action towards my goals. The Entrepreneurship Vibes event can ignite something in you!"

Foteini Makri: "I really liked and enjoyed the interactive parts, the questions and the games and I enjoyed the presentation of the Entrepreneurship Hub and the Curious Lounge. I believe that other students enjoyed those activities as well. The next day my team and I brainstormed in the Entrepreneurship Hub because we found it really motivating and inspiring."

Contact:

Jurek Sikorski, Executive Director of Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship

E: jurek.sikorski@henley.ac.uk

Prof Andrew Godley, Academic Director of Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship

E: a.c.godley@henley.ac.uk

W: https://www.henley.ac.uk/henley-centre-for-entrepreneurship

T: @HenleyC4E

I: @HenleyBSchool #HCfE

Published 25th October 2019