The following ventures were founded by graduates of the SETsquared universities and have been nominated for the Best Graduate Start-Up 2014 category.
Be Dutch! Bicycles (University of Surrey)
The demand for Dutch bicycles is increasing as the attitude towards transport changes at a rapid pace. The potential is as large as the market is new yet growing rapidly. The few competitors that are out there are not taking the market as seriously as I am. The vision is to supply small and large bicycle shops with Dutch bicycles and set up a distribution network in the UK. After a two year trial the business shows potential, in the next two years I will be setting up the distribution network. Current sales are about 20-30 bicycles a month and this number is increasing every year. There is a large scope for additional product and new things which will be added over the coming two years (custom bikes, e-bikes and more).
Instabear (University of Exeter)
Instabear launched in February 2013, providing “Next day” photo printing services from social-media sites such as Facebook and instagram.
Responding to an identified gap in the market, Instabear enhanced its business and now aims to blur the gap between social media and physical experiences.
Using its own, specially developed platform, Instabear provides a specialist service which allows event guests to share photos via social-media platforms while simultaneously displaying them on big screens and printing them out as reminders of the event – effectively incentivising users to engage socially by rewarding them physically.
Instabear has delivered major events contracts for Jaguar Land Rover, Ford, Jack Wills and other brands - including the launch of the F-Type Coupe and the JLR Auto Show in Los Angeles which led to over 3,500 photos printed and a viral reach of more than 8 Million people.
These contracts have led to a turnover of ~£60K in the year ending February 2014 and a further ~£20K in the current year to date.
The ability of instabear to provide the crucial blend of social reach and physical marketing has also led to interest from potential investors which will support the future growth of the company.
No Scrubs (University of Bristol)
A club night based around 90s-00s RnB, Garage & House. We specialise in creating an all round experience with immersive features on the night to distinguish us from competitors. We are established in 3 cities and look to expand further with each academic year. The aim: For No Scrubs to be known in every medium-large student town in the UK.
We made a profit from our first event in 2011 and done so in every event we’ve put on. We’ve been able to do this is because we have a popular brand with very low overheads.
Oct 2011 – first event (sold out 3 days in advance)
June 2013 – move to 1200 capacity venue (sells out 2 weeks in advance)
Oct 2013 – expand to Nottingham & Oxford
June 2014 – 2500 person event
Over 2.5 years all of our events bar 2 have sold out. (25 in total)
We asked students if they would attend a club night like No Scrubs. We compiled a list of 200+ and at that point we thought there was a gap in the market for us in Bristol. When we’ve expanded we asked students about their going out habits and other competition.
Our Honest Food (University of Bath)
Our Honest Foods delivers snacks to offices in a bid to shake up office snacking and the £1.54bn vending market. Honest charges a flat £30 weekly fee, and in exchange offices receive £30 worth of snacks and a wooden Honest Office Box. The snacks are price marked, and by the end of every week the box is empty, with all of the snacks having been munched by office folk looking to solve their 11 and 4 o’clock hunger grumbles. The office is reimbursed that £30 fee through payment by employees into the honesty box. By using British produced snacks, Honest provides wholesome snacks at competitive prices with tailored products that are not widely available elsewhere.
Honest already delivers to a number of offices across southern England, and having won the Deloitte Business Plan Competition as well as a Shell LiveWIRE award, UnLtd funding and a Start Up Loan through Virgin, we are gaining exposure to the market of our innovative idea. Our view is that our product will scale across the UK, with a view to be in 320 offices by the end of the year. We hold a longer-term ambition of taking our boxes across Europe and the US.
The Bug Shack (University of Southampton)
By 2050 the world population will reach 9billion, putting a strain on resources such as land, water and nutrients. The United Nations’ offered solution is to increase the human consumption of insects, as they contain protein levels comparable to cattle and poultry, yet are far more sustainable than traditional meats.
Edible insects are particularly appealing to the environmentally conscious; at a recent event, 90% of visitors accepted free samples of soy mealworms, which were even enjoyed by several vegans. Customers reported that the snacks tasted great and all products sold out.
Competition is limited in the UK and market research suggests that competing products are considered overpriced. Having secured £4000 from the University of Southampton Take Off competition in 2013, this year I will take a business loan in order to farm insects on a large scale, thus substantially reducing costs and allowing competitive pricing. Products will be sold at markets, festivals and online, with the goal of selling to supermarkets within ten years. I aim to make a profit within 3 years, though this depends on lowering of costs. I have attended workshops and competitions on business planning and pitching and benefit from working with a business mentor.