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UEL and Haberdashers Livery are bucking the London start-up trend

Five promising start-ups get a welcomed boost

A flourishing 14-year partnership between the University of East London (UEL) and The Haberdashers’ Livery Company is bucking the trend of the ‘three-year flop’ seen among new business start-ups in London. 

Together they have provided practical and financial support to 114 new businesses founded by UEL students and alumni since the partnership began. And of the companies supported in the last three years, an impressive 83 per cent are still trading.

It is an outstanding achievement when you consider that in London around 50 per cent of companies formed in 2013 folded after three years – 3.6 percentage points below the national average.

The Haberdashers’ Company, which provides charitable support for a range of education and training projects, works with UEL to support aspiring entrepreneurs who already have some experience under their belts and are seeking to grow their business.

Today, that takes the form of Boost your Business – a six-month programme to nurture start-ups run by UEL’s Enterprise Team. 

Some 70 start-ups applied to Boost your Business six months ago, with five making it through to the 2018 grant ceremony held at Haberdashers’ Hall in Moorgate, London, on 11 June. 

The lucky five, who gave presentations about their businesses at the ceremony, collected £2,000 grant money, workshop support, the support of a UEL intern and the opportunity to receive bespoke business mentoring. 

This year’s winners included Street Food Markets, founded by UEL alumnus Jay McKenzie, and business partners Kojo Smith and Linh Tong.

The trio provide urban rental business space, enabling pop-up restaurants, street food entrepreneurs and food trucks to trade at unique locations, with social media, video and local support.

Jay said, “We offer a bespoke service for our customers, and we’re so grateful for the support we’ve received from UEL, and the grant money from Haberdashers will help our business develop.”

Another winner was GoGo Studios, founded by David Gogo, a master’s student in architecture at UEL. David and his team offer home owners and developers an all-encompassing design package from consultation, to planning, interior design, tender and construction. 

Far Fitness, founded by UEL alumnus Julian Dominique, impressed the ceremony audience with its focus on helping people in jobs with a higher risk of injury and strain, and providing exercise services to support people with disabilities or following injury. Julian studied his BSc (Hons) Sports Science and MSc Strength and Conditioning at UEL

Abby Hubbard highlighted ongoing concern with mental health with a presentation on her winning business, Work Wellbeing. The company provides employees with wellness experiences, organised work-place wellness days and weeks, and annual programmes. Abby studied her MSc Business Psychology at UEL and works with business partner Louise Padmore.

Innovative video company VidiCrew, comprising UEL alumnus Alex Wilding and Paul Hulligan, also received a grant and business support for their start-up providing memorable films made from people’s mobile phone clips.

Among those attending the ceremony was Sally Dyson, who is a member of the Haberdashers’ Company with extensive experience in business and also a newly appointed UEL governor.

The event included a welcome speech by the Master of the Haberdashers’ Company, Sheridan Swallow, who spoke about the important link between education and work.  

Martin Longstaff, UEL’s Director of Research and Enterprise, and Dr Lisa Mooney, UEL’s Pro-Vice Chancellor Dean for Research and Knowledge Exchange, both spoke about the valuable partnership between UEL and Haberdashers, and their plans to continue encouraging entrepreneurs at UEL. 

Mr Longstaff said, ‘This partnership has played an important role in the development of enterprise at UEL and is a key part of our emerging success story.”