Korina Karampela talks to the CEO of New Entrepreneurs Foundation Neeta Patel about creating the new generation of outstanding entrepreneurs.
- An increasing number of recent graduates consider setting up their own business instead of joining the corporate world. What are the reasons behind this trend?
I think there are two reasons behind this trend. The first one is macro- economic. There has been a steep downsizing within large corporate organisations. Those hit the hardest are the financial companies and consultancies which have historically taken large numbers of new graduates. As a result, there are fewer graduate entry level places available. Graduates find it tough to secure jobs when they leave universities. Hence, they consider working for start-ups or setting up their own companies.
The second reason is due to technological advances. Nowadays, you can launch your own business with very little financial outlay. You can gain a lot of traction through online and social media and you can build a significant brand quite quickly. This appeals to young graduates who are almost all technologically savvy (or ‘digital natives’ which is the commonly used phrase). Also, there are many more successful role models for them today. Think how young the founders of Google, twitter, and facebook are! It has almost become fashionable to become a young entrepreneur and I think this is a good shift in attitudes for the UK as a whole.
- What is the most common misconception about entrepreneurship?
The most common misconception I come across is that all ideas are good ideas and that they will be successful – they are not and they won’t!
Another one is that being an entrepreneur is an easy career path. Again, the route to success for many entrepreneurs is far from straight forward (just as Sir James Dyson!). There will be many failures and setbacks along the way. Many businesses will simply not take off or will not be profitable.
There are common traits in all the successful entrepreneurs I meet: they are resilient, not afraid of failure, are focused and passionate about what they do. And, they never give up. If they fail, they will pick themselves up again and carry on.
- Why New Entrepreneurs Foundation is unique?
NEF is unique because it’s the only programme in the UK that combines a paid, one-year placement that gives you first-hand experience of working in a high growth company, complemented by a 10-month training programme, networking events and a personal coach.
We believe that this combination is a powerful way to help, support and develop start-up implementation skills among aspiring young people. We select the best 30 candidates from hundreds of applicants each year and we’re now selecting the third cohort. Those who are interested, they can apply via our web site: www.newentrepreneursfoundation.com
- What are the 3 ‘Dos’ and 3 ‘Don’ts’ that recent graduates who aspire to become entrepreneurs need to be aware of?
The Do’s are:
- Do get connected and network like crazy (you never know who might be a future investor, advisor or supporter).
- Do go to events, sign up for hackathons and participate in online groups and discussions.
- Do get an internship with a start-up. More opportunities will open up to you from this work experience. Volunteer to work for free for a couple of months, if they can’t afford to pay.
- Don’t spam famous or high profile people with requests for funding or for a meeting. If you must, just ask for advice or introductions.
- Don’t wait to launch until you have a fully fledged product. Start developing your idea and launch small but fast. You’ll find it easier to engage people if they can see something live.
- Don’t expect to pay yourself a huge salary from the early stage – investors want their seed money to go into developing the business, not funding the founder’s lifestyle!
The bottom line: If you want to be part of the new generation of outstanding entrepreneurs and work with some of the best business minds in this country, the New Entrepreneurs Foundation is for you. Note though that they take only the best.
Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author and speaker. She has held senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry for 12 years and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her b4iapply blog is recommended by The Guardian for professional development.