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Discovering the UK Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Students in the MSc in Entrepreneurship & Innovation programme visit London to discover the start-up ecosystem in the UK.

Written on 17 Nov 2017.


Attending the MSc in Entrepreneurship & Innovation programme exposes us to every area of managing a start-up. Our classroom knowledge, gained through course work and lectures from successful entrepreneurs, is bolstered by our travels to global entrepreneurial centres of excellence where we are able to witness theory in practice and apply the latest learnings to our own businesses.

Our first study trip took place in London, where 47 students in our programme discovered the UK entrepreneurial ecosystem; including start-ups, investors and incubators. On the first day, we visited 3 different companies: Toucan Box, Mozoo and Merci Maman. Two of them, Toucan Box and Merci Maman, are led by women. 

It was inspiring to see women entrepreneurs launching successful companies at the same time as being young mothers. Both businesses were inspired by their founder's experiences as parents. They showed us that women do not have to choose between being entrepreneurs and being mothers. And when a student asked Virginie, CEO of Toucan Box, how she managed her personal life with her professional life she answered, “Do you ask this type of question to a male entrepreneur?” It was nice to hear her respond in this manner because, often women business leaders are challenged in ways that men are not. 

One of the most remarkable ideas that we learned on this trip was to stop being obsessed with fundraising. Jules, the founder of Mozoo, told us to focus on having a profitable company. This notion was further illustrated by Merci Maman, a company that functions without any fundraising. Jules believes that entrepreneurs should be sellers. He insists that attracting customers, and doing it quickly, is more important than fundraising.Visiting these three companies, we felt the entrepreneurs were passionate about their businesses. Another lesson we will keep: love what you do!

On the second day, we visited La French Tech, an organisation created to capitalise on the initiatives developed by its members: entrepreneurs, investors, engineers, and other tech professionals. La French Tech builds on the ideas of its members for the purpose of helping to grow and expand the international influence of French start-ups. We experienced, first-hand, how they operate and support French students. Additionally, we learned how an investor, seeking a profitable business, approaches start-ups.

Later, we visited the Microsoft accelerator where we were introduced to their Start-up programme. Microsoft helps start-ups that have achieved a revenue of $1 million, to connect with useful partners. This programme helps companies continue to grow. We also had the opportunity to talk with five entrepreneurs participating in the accelerator programme.

We concluded the day with a typical French apéritif and used this time to network with the speakers. This trip has not only given us new business insights but also brought us closer together.

By Floriane De Malestroit & Unalp Tekinalp

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