Back in about March 2014 Tom (my hall mate) and myself were sat in our halls of residence talking about how we both wanted to achieve more during our time at Uni. After chatting and bouncing ideas off each other, we came up with a very simple and basic concept: we could sell colour coded products, each colour signifying a particular charity, where half of the profits are donated to. Our idea was set, and we decided to start off with iPhone cases.
Because we were both holding iPhone’s at the time and had absolutely no other product idea. Little did we know our conversation that night was going to fuel a social enterprise startup.
BeingUniversity students, nothing really happened between that night until the end of July. We kept talking about how we were going to start ‘working on it tomorrow’, and invest a little of our own money in to kickstart our idea ‘next week’. University was in the way! Exams, essays, society commitments and, well, partying kept drawing us away from actually starting our idea. We thought leaving it until summer would be a good idea - we foolishly forgot to take into account the fact that we’re both international students and were going back home for summer. I’m from Bangkok, Thailand and Tom was from Bratislava, Slovakia. The possibility of kickstarting our idea became even lower as we never got the time and place to go over the idea and actually start planning.
Towards the end of July, I got a message from Tom introducing me to the Manchester Entrepreneur’s Accelerate ME scheme that he found advertised on Facebook. The Manchester Entrepreneur’s Accelerate ME scheme is an accelerator to connect student startups with the resources, networks and funds to accelerate their business. We both thought that this would be a great opportunity for us, as we needed the ignition to push our ideas forward and help us to take the next step. We sent a very detailed, informative and last minute application to the Manchester Entrepreneurs Society for the Accelerate MEscheme and that turned out to be the best decision we’ve made. This resulted in a 2am phone call interview with the Director of the accelerator Tom McCan as I was in Thailand and the time difference was not in my favour, however I managed to pull myself together and half an hour later we were accepted!
Being part of the accelerator has opened us up to great opportunities and resources. We received £2000 funding, a co-workin g office, mentors and constant contact with other startups on the scheme that we could turn to for feedback. Every fortnight there was a guest speaker who came to talk to us about their business and gave us some valuable advice. We were greatly motivated by these speakers, including Jamil Khalil from Wakelet, Max Lines for Uber Manchester, River Tam from Dot-Forge andTamsin fromHireSpace (now Head of Manchester at ClearlySo). We were also introduced to the Manchester Silicon DrinkAbout and that’s how I was introduced to Vim and the buzzing SpacePortX!
This scheme however didn’t just end with the provision of valuable resources, inspirational mentors and funding. The scheme ended with a Demo Day, where every startup in the scheme had to pitch their idea to venture capitalists, press, angel investors and other entrepreneurs in the hope of securing further investment and networks. We’ve managed to film our pitch for you to watch!
Today, IMPACT has partnered up with four hardworking charities that are registered in the UK and operate all around the world including Village Water, Plant a Tree Today Foundation, Aids Orphanand Poverty Release. We launched our online storewww.nowimpact.co.uk towards the end of February 2015 and have already raised close to £200 pounds for our partnered charities. We’ve been lucky to be featured in several publications and blogs that helped us receive the exposure we needed. As I move forward into my third year of my Marketing degree at the University of Manchester, IMPACT has progressed so much and now we’re looking to expand our product range and we would really love your suggestions! We’re very active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook so please give us a shout and connect with us!
If you’re a student at Manchester and have a cool startup idea, I would definitely recommend joining the Manchester Entrepreneurs Society at the University of Manchester and keep an eye out on the Accelerate ME scheme application dates. Drop by SpacePortX and dive into the Manchester tech startup community! The opportunities are endless here - I love it!