Big things predicted for small business start-ups

Fri, May 12th, 2017

LJMU Centre for Entrepreneurship helps students & graduates start own businesses

Liverpool and Sefton Chamber member, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), is leading the way in engendering a new generation of entrepreneurs.

The LJMU Centre for Entrepreneurship helps students and graduates start their own businesses by providing access to funding, business advice and training.

As well as this, the centre works closely with the Liverpool business community to provide their students with valuable networking opportunities, workshops and talks delivered by business experts.

Since launching in 2003, the Centre for Entrepreneurship has helped kick-start more than 300 businesses, including Business Studies graduate Liam O’Donnell and his tech business, Skiffl.

A fuss-free way to book the best booths

Skiffl is a table-booking app for iOS and Android, and is also soon to be available on the Google Play Store. The app helps users to reserve VIP tables and booths at the city’s best restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

Liam says the idea behind Skiffl is being able to relax and enjoy a night out with friends without having to worry about settling the bill.

“Skiffl gives some order to your night,” he adds, “you can pre-order drinks for your table and split the tab with your other guests in advance, so you know the bill is covered before you arrive.”

Liam joined the LJMU idealab accelerator programme in 2016 and has been working with the team to develop his ideas and hone his business model. He successfully pitched for Bathgate funding and is ready to take Skiffl live to market any day now.

Check out Skiffl here.

Becky’s beautiful, bespoke designs

Becky Smithbury, Graphic Design and Illustration graduate, also benefited from the Bathgate funding programme, and has invested in sample stock and equipment for her custom wedding stationary business, Hawthorne and Ivory.

Becky decided to start her own business shortly after her own wedding in October 2016. In January 2017, she was designing full time and had developed a growing repertoire of positive feedback from clients.

She says: “I love talking to couples and hearing their individual journeys, and I'm honoured each and every time I'm trusted to realise the vision for someone’s special day.”

Take a look at some of Becky’s bespoke designs here.

Marketing for micro businesses

Masters in Marketing postgraduate and Business Management graduate Mark Russell is another one to watch, with his growing business bmicro marketing consultancy.

Mark says bmicro is about big thinking for small businesses. It centres on harnessing the power of social media as a tool to promote and grow your ideas.

“bmicro helps you focus on the value you bring and the things you do better than anybody else," he said.

“Our aim is to make micro businesses self-sufficient with their marketing, we do this through a series of interactive workshops and training.”

In April, Mark was recently awarded at The Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Awards and has been invited to join the management team for FSB Merseyside, to inject some fresh ideas and new thinking into their strategy.

Take a look at Mark’s business here.

Get a boost from Bathgate Group

One of the biggest barriers for people starting out in business is finance. The LJMU Centre for Entrepreneurship in association with Bathgate Group, awards scholarships of £3,000 each year for 10 students who choose to dedicate their sandwich year to starting a new venture.

The Bathgate Start-up Fund is named in honour of the Bathgate Group of companies, which has a varied business portfolio from silica sand and access flooring to transport, IT hosting and business finance.

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