Class of 2022 graduate McCartney Aldous recently left Essex with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science. During the writing of his dissertation, McCartney found himself procrastinating when a potential business idea was formed, and his start-up journey began.

How it started...

I was trying to focus on completing my dissertation but found myself constantly distracted by thoughts of anything other than what I was supposed to be doing! It was during one of these moments of procrastination that I started to think about using what I’d learnt during my degree to help future students live healthier and happier lives, and an idea for a business started to come together.

Having had a friend from my course who had started their own business, as well completing a module during my second year that involved creating a business plan, I was aware of the Essex Startups team but wasn’t quite sure of the initial steps I should take after coming up with my business idea. I approached the Startups team and was invited to attend the up-and-coming Summer Bootcamp event for aspiring entrepreneurs. I decided I had nothing to lose and immediately signed-up.

The bootcamp was an intensive process, but it forced me to think about the many aspects of starting your own business from identifying the target market and communication channels, to seeking financial investment and creating a brand. Working with like-minded students, we were given opportunities to examine case studies to recognise potential challenges and explore the ways they could be overcome. It was a great way share ideas and practice pitching to a room of people.

Taking part in the bootcamp made me realise that I had a huge amount to learn, but it also instilled the motivation in me to pursue my business idea. I signed-up for the follow-on support of 1:1s University’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Magdalena Mahdy, and began work on the first stage of my business plan for the team to review.

How it's going...

I’m currently working as a personal trainer, so my days are long and I’m always on the go. When I’m not working, I’m focusing on the next stage of my business plan. We are given fortnightly deadlines for each area of the business plan over the summer months, where we submit and are given feedback. Working on the business plan in this way is more manageable and less overwhelming for those of us who are completely new to this process.

Since starting my business plan, I’ve had regular 1:1’s with Magdalena to reflect on the feedback and think about the next stage. She gives me the space to talk through all my ideas before posing questions that allow me to consider things from a different perspective. My original business idea has always remained the same, but Magdalena’s guidance has helped me to clarify the best ways to package my business proposal for the target market and reflect on the most profitable options for my business to move forward.

I have kept in touch with a couple of other participants from the bootcamp, and we regularly contact each other to bounce ideas around and give updates on our progress.

The next step...

The next stage of this process is presenting my business proposal at the Big Pitch event in October, where financial investment from the University is up for grabs to help get businesses off the ground. In the meantime, I will continue to meet with Magdalena and work on perfecting my business plan to ensure I’m as prepared as possible for the pitch.

Life at the moment is hectic, but I’m feeling positive about my progress so far and about the opportunities that may arise for me as a result of going through this process.

Words of wisdom...

Whether you’ve just graduated, or are in the middle of your degree, if you have a potential business idea then just go for it! Even if you fail, you’ll learn something. The process will help you to grow as a person and provide opportunities to meet the right people to build something better.

I believe that I have a good idea, but I’m not a businessman. The support I’ve received from Essex Startups has exceeded my expectations by enhancing my overall business knowledge and will prevent me making potentially costly mistakes.

Find out more

If you have a potential business idea, or are interested in developing your business skills, find out more about the training, events and support Essex Startups offers to current students and recent graduates.