Image: Robert Wheatley
[Robert Wheatley | Lifestyle Editor]
For a business to be successful nowadays, networking is key. If a company wants an employee with certain skills they can start hiring, or they can network in their industry, but is it that simple for those wanting to start their own business without such connections?
University of Hertfordshire student, Raymond Adekolu, wants to help encourage those that wish to become self-employed with Partner-Up, a platform that would allow students, entrepreneurs as well as professionals to create their own business or enhance a current one by establishing connections with others with similar ideals.
Trident Media spoke to Adekolu regarding Partner-Up and what he hopes to achieve with his business, what the platform will allow its users and how he hopes to encourage its growth.
What is Partner-Up, and what does it offer?
“Partner-Up is an online communication service slash consultation service for university students, especially those who aspire to start their own business. Partner-Up acquires members from different professions and schools and backgrounds; basically, it allows students to connect with the right people. For example, if someone wants to start a big data company and needs a technology scientist, they can find one on Partner-Up who’s also a member. There will likely be more than one computer scientist to choose from, and they can message them and choose to meet up, whenever. Results from Partner-Up can be them going into business with each other whereby one specialises in computer science and another specialises in the business aspect.”
Is there an app or website for this project?
“There isn’t an app at the moment: I hope for there to be an app in the future once we’ve established enough interest and people that want to use it. Once we establish interest we can decide to create an app or website; as of now it’s starting on Facebook, and for now I’m going to acquire different members on Facebook, and then from there they can see who specialises in what and they can connect from there.”
What will Partner-Up allow its users to do?
“Basically, you can search for whoever you need for yourself, or get advice from me or from anyone else. I will be providing indirect and direct advice, so for statuses [on Facebook] I’ll be regularly updating them suggesting who to connect with if you’re in a particular background. You can ask me for advice on who to connect with or you can find them yourself by searching for them or checking the members list to see who specialises in what, because your profile will show what you specialise in.”
Is it for all students, or UH students specifically?
“I’m starting at UH because the UH students are the only people I know, and it would make more sense to start in UH just as a starting platform anyway. But if it grows, and there’s enough interest at other universities and aspiring entrepreneurs that aren’t students, then yes – if there’s enough interest, as there are obviously people that aren’t just students. But mainly I think students are the ones that want to test out ideas and have the ability to do so because a lot of their finances are paid by student finances, and they have a lot of time… and there’s a lot of competitions at the university, and there’s a careers service – they have so much support, but it would be best to target students first because they are the ones that need help the most.”
What experience would you bring to advise students?
“I won’t be providing advice based on what I study because I study Philosophy and you can’t really give careers advice based on philosophy… the advice I’ll be giving will be based on research I’ll be researching myself, and from experience of networking as I go to quite a lot of networking events; so based on experience I can tell them what they need and who to connect with. I have contacts from this networking, and the contacts I have will be part of the Partner-Up page so I can recommend those people [Partner-Up users] to the contacts I have.
“One of them I met yesterday, Kowalo – he’s trying to start his Big-Data business which deals with providing organisations demographics for what their customers actually want… he needs a computer analyst, so I can find a computer analyst. I actually know of some people that study Computer Science so I can add them to it and ask them if they want to start a business, or want to provide services and they could make a deal together whereby he pays them to create an app or something; anything can happen really, between a relationship like this.”
What inspired you to create Partner-Up?
“I actually started a few business before, which I’m currently running right now, but it was kind of experimentation. I saw the idea of Partner-Up as probably the most important; networking is the most important thing when you’re starting up a business, and I wanted to provide a service for that.”
What will Partner-Up provide what similar services might not?
“I had an idea of providing networking events… a networking session where they get together, pitch to each other ideas and connect with each other, and that way if people are looking for someone they can probably find someone there.”
Where would you wish to go with this project?
“Depending on if it’s successful I would love to take it as far as it will go, but I haven’t got any feedback yet and that’s what I need to get feedback on; I don’t know how successful it would be and can only test drive it, but I would love to take it as far as it can go.”
Will you be entering the Flare competition with this project?
“Everyone wants to be free; I can assume – but who doesn’t want to work for themselves? Some people want to work for companies which is absolutely fine, but I would love to work for myself and the Flare competition is a chance for me to test out a business idea to see what a good business idea would look like. Even if I don’t win, the experience of going through the competition is better than no experience.”
How is preparation coming along?
“I have all the information I need; it’s a pretty easy process. All you have to do is talk about the business idea and basically provide a four-minute video telling them what the business idea is, what’s your student number, what potential risks are there in your business, and then submit it.
“I had to write a business plan recently and it forced me to think about things I wouldn’t have thought about like any risks: I think most people when they start a business focus on the business idea and what the service provides. A business plan forces you to think about other things that might get in the way, to make sure the business idea will actually work, and it makes you think about the risks and how you’re going to finance yourself… even if it comes to the business plan and I find out it’s not a feasible plan, at least I got experience and know what doesn’t work.”