Graduates get helping hand with start-ups

The first set of successful applicants to ‘Entrepreneur First’ were picked last week following 425 applications from students studying at 88 universities reports The Telegraph.

The chosen 34 will be supported by investors from Index Ventures and Balderton Capital, successful entrepreneurs such as Lovefilm co-founder William Reeve and Pete Smith, co-founder of music website Songkick. The graduates will be helped to develop business plans over the coming months and will then start companies with their peers in September.
The initiative is inspired by Teach First, which targets graduates who would not usually consider a career in teaching and places them in ‘challenging’ schools.

Nottingham university student Zahid Mitha, 21, rejected a job offer from Diageo and interest from City firms to join the scheme. “I think this is the better option – the City isn’t safe anymore. It’s a chance rather than a job, but one that I’m young enough to take.”
Also on the initiative is Emily Brooke, 26, who has developed a product which she believes can help reduce the number of cyclists injured or killed on the roads. Her safety device sits on handlebars and projects a laser image of a bike road sign onto the road ahead, alerting motorists to cyclists’ presence.

Ms Brooke is in talks with manufacturers to bring her patented design to market. She says she quit a physics degree at Oxford to study product design at Brighton. “My parents weren’t impressed. But at Oxford, all I could see was a City career mapped out ahead of me and I wanted to do something more creative.”

Stephen Uden of Microsoft said participants who wish to opt for a conventional career after two years will be offered a place on the software giant’s graduate scheme.
The “start-up for start-ups” is being run by 25 year-old Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck, 26, as an independent not-for-profit scheme based on a concept originally developed by McKinsey. Tamara Rajah, of McKinsey, said it was designed to address the “fact that entrepreneurship is often not on the radar of the best and brightest graduates”.

Those who didn’t make the grade will be offered training and introductions to companies that are hiring.