PhD Data Science graduate Madalina founded her business Hivemind Academy, offering data analytics training, after spotting a gap in the market while running bootcamps in analytics for private organisations during her studies.
I have been at Essex for a while! I started with a BSc in Mathematics and Economics, followed by an MSc in Mathematics and Finance, before embarking on a PhD in Data Science. During my PhD, I worked at the University as a lecturer in statistics and ran bootcamps for private organisations in data analytics.
While gaining this experience in teaching, it occurred to me that the curriculum for data analysis was very broad and based solely on theoretical learning. It became clear that data analysis is a difficult career to pursue due to the generic content of courses and the lack of practical learning on offer. As the application of data is tailored to specific industries, I recognised the need for specialised learning and, as a result, the idea of Hivemind Academy began to form.
Initially I worked with a co-founder, but as the idea developed with the insight I had obtained, I began to establish the foundations of Hivemind Academy alone. I reached out to the Essex Startups team and signed up to their Summer Bootcamp 2021, spending the summer months receiving mentoring and putting together my business plan ahead of the Big Pitch event that October. It was an intense process but worth it as the Big Pitch awarded me my first investment of £3,000 (funded by Santander Universities).
In early 2022 I took part in the evolve Accelerator Programme, which allowed me to further develop my knowledge of the consumer journey, marketing and branding, and pricing strategies. The integral mentoring assisted me with actively applying the theory to my business practices and challenged my target market proposition. Participation also offered me another opportunity to pitch for funding and I was delighted to receive a further £3,000 (funded by Santander Universities) to begin actioning elements of my business plan.
I have completed my PhD and am balancing a part-time lecturer role at the University alongside the development of my business.
I am currently developing a course for individuals wanting to pursue data analysis roles within the Healthcare industry. My research has centred on course curriculum, methods of delivery, needs within the sector, and the timeframes required to become equipped with the required skills. I am using this information to design the content for those wanting to enhance their sector-specific skills within this field, and those who desire a career change. The purpose will aid both individuals and industry in boosting career development and reducing on-the-job training.
I really enjoy teaching and have found that it enhances my own knowledge when it comes to the course I am creating. Working in a technical field, it’s important for me to witness first-hand the progress of students from the outset of their educational journey. Having this hands-on experience continually provides me with knowledge to support my business development. Without this insight keeping me in the loop, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
I have recently returned from a visit to the University of Antwerp, where I participated in an Accelerator Programme for selected high-potential start-ups from the Young Universities for the Future of Europe (YUFE) partner institutions. Over three days, we were guided by an international team of expert coaches through a series of workshops to equip us with the tools to boost our businesses and enhance our success. This unique opportunity allowed me to collaborate with peers, academics, and industry professionals from across Europe, and expand my professional network.
The financial investment I have received to date has funded the development of my course and allowed me to create my website. The next stage is to launch a pilot for my course, to ensure all elements adhere to market demand and make any adjustments before rolling it out. To run the pilot, I am actively seeking further investment opportunities. The YUFE Accelerator Programme has boosted my confidence in preparing for this next stage, having had the chance to participate in an interactive pitch deck and a marketing and branding workshop tailored to my business.
Life is busy, but I have the support and expertise needed to make my business a success so I’m excited about what the future holds.
Be willing to be vulnerable. You may have a great idea in the first instance, but you are not always going to have all of the answers. It’s important to understand that the process takes bravery and that asking for help and support along the way is vital to developing your knowledge and building your professional network.
Believing in yourself and what you do is crucial to maintaining motivation. Stay positive and success will come.
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.
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