Review: UltraViolet 2018/19 Summer Startup Course
Last week saw the return of beepurple’s annual summer startup course, UltraViolet. The aim of the course, open to all students and graduates of the University of Brighton, is to equip participants with the skills, know-how and confidence to pursue their own entrepreneurial ideas.
Participants arrived with a diverse range of ideas, from sole trader businesses serving the local area to innovative online startups with a global audience, as well as charities and social enterprises.
They worked on their ideas collaboratively using the Business Model Canvas, the key planning tool of the Lean Startup methodology.
The week kicked off with an overview of the course and various team-building exercises, including a ‘build an animal’ challenge involving LEGO, stickle bricks and various other fun materials. We introduced teams to their fundraising challenge, which this year involved them raising money for EDGE Brighton – an activities and social club for young people with disabilities. EDGE is run by University of Brighton business student Zachariah Salvage, who attended the UltraViolet course in 2018. beepurple’s Clare Griffiths then began the work on participants’ individual business ideas by delivering a session on value propositions. This was further explored in the afternoon by Sara Osterholzer [pictured] of The Good Business Club, who explained how to test ideas – an important principle of Lean Startup.
Luke Mitchell, beepurple’s Entrepreneurship Advice Manager, opened the morning session with an intensive discussion of marketing. Activities included developing customer personas, deciding segmentation, the process of choosing marketing channels and deciding how to manage customer relationships. In the afternoon this flowed naturally into the topic of sales, and Simon Chuter [pictured] from the Sussex Innovation Centre arrived to give his practical tips on building relationships with people, particularly face-to-face. Simon introduced participants to the ‘power pose’.
No business course would be complete without an understanding of business accounting basics. Deana Ward [pictured] of Fresh Ambition gave a concise introduction to everything from cash flow forecasting to profit and loss. In the afternoon we welcomed back two University of Brighton graduate entrepreneurs, Melanie Smith of Smith & Wonder and Sarah Gillings of U CAN Spray, as well as local startup co-founder Julian Bourne of Waffle – an innovative chatbot for the eating out sector. It was invaluable to have three very different businesses share their experiences, advice and encouragement.
Note: Julian has offered a unique code for the University of Brighton community to get £5 off their first order with Waffle. Provided you have Facebook Messenger downloaded, simply go to joinwaffle.com and click the ‘say hello’ button. Add the ‘BEEPURPLE5’ voucher code at the checkout after selecting items. Type ‘help’ if you have any issues.
Participants arrived to find their workspace re-arranged. Chairs were formed in a circle ready for Matt Matheson [pictured], The Speaking Coach, to begin his highly interactive workshop on business communication. This session would help participants hone their pitching skills and gave everyone an opportunity to practise public speaking in a supportive environment. In the afternoon we were joined by local businesswoman Carlene Jackson who has built the Brighton-based cloud technology company, Cloud9 Insight. Carlene, a proud University of Brighton alumna, shared her journey and explained how she has overcome challenges, including dyslexia, to grow a thriving business.
Pitching day! On the final day of UltraViolet, participants had the opportunity to present their finished Business Model Canvas and compete to win a £250 prize. Our competition judges were Tracey Taylor of Brighton Business School, Samantha Oakland of SO-Law, Zachariah Salvage of EDGE Brighton and Chris Morey of Plus Accounting. One of our participants, Kira Downer, video-blogged her experience of delivering the pitch.
At lunch, participants got the opportunity to discuss legal matters and financial advice with Samantha and Chris. In the afternoon, beepurpler Luke Brookes – a recent Product Design graduate who runs Distinct Blueprint and Lunag Fitness – presented his own tips and invited attendees to join beepurple’s Business Development group on Facebook. The beepurple team closed off the week with a session on next steps planning.
UltraViolet was a fantastic week of learning with a highly supportive, engaged group working on some of the most formulated business ideas that we have seen on the course. We worked hard this year to prepare and enhance the agenda to deliver everything a new startup needs from a five day course; the feedback received from participants was rewarding. beepurple will now be following and supporting our cohort as they take their ideas to market.
If you’re a student or graduate of the University of Brighton and need a sounding board for your ideas, don’t be afraid to contact us to arrange a meeting – no matter what stage you are at or what experience you have.
Meanwhile, we are now working on the planning of next year’s evening workshop programme. We welcome your ideas and suggestions. What skills training do you need? Send us an email.