Think back to all the times you’ve checked your bank balance and got depressed at the £3.97 in your account, forcing you to live on bread and water for the rest of the week. Think back to that inexplicable sense of dissatisfaction at your productivity, and the fire in your belly when you see those more successful having thousands rolling into their accounts on a weekly basis, while you remain in a retail position working twelve hour shifts almost every day while earning only hundreds for something that’s not of your own creation.
That sense of ambition, that hunger for something more worthy that you yourself are responsible for, is a natural attribute embedded into your very psyche. If you have an idea for a product or service that has been gnawing at your mind, and you want to earn money from your own hands and efforts, there is a society in MDX which has your back.
The Entrepreneurs Society is a society which has been recently revived, and which hosted its first event in February in which Huyen Dao Thanh – a MDX graduate – spoke on how she started her own business specialising in clothing products such as ties and waistcoats. The event was a success, and enabled the society to move forward with its aims and vision.
“We just want to create a society and platform for entrepreneurs to connect with each other and to help each other if they have an idea to set up a business, and to encourage each other and then also to pass on knowledge, to bring down guest speakers for workshops and training, so that they can develop their skills,” said Ashraf Khalifa, the President of the Entrepreneurs Society, sitting with his committee members Karolina Karaskova and Aisha Prince, the Vice-President and the Treasurer, as we discussed the aim, vision, and method that the society is moving forwards with.
As for the type of business ideas the society looks to promote, they are “open to any” and that “it can be anything: a product, service, or an idea so we can help them develop it. There are no restrictions and no limitations.”
“A lot of other departments don't really focus on entrepreneurship, they don't really think about it or develop it. In November there was the global entrepreneurship week, but I've never seen any events around it here, so that really shows you that the university doesn't put much emphasis on entrepreneurship." While Middlesex University has set up some platforms for student enterprise such as the enterprise development hub, which the society works closely with, much of the outreach for fostering the entrepreneurial talent that students possess has been largely limited to the business school students, as well as international students in order to attain graduate entrepreneurship visas. The university, therefore, has reportedly not yet discovered the full potential of all its students. It is this entrepreneurial potential and spirit which the MDX Entrepreneurs Society aims to dig into and help grow.
"One thing the university can do is set up a co-working space, a fixated area where people can come, because one of the ingredients with businesses is that not just having a space but a postal address, a meeting space where people can come and meet you, whether it's and supplier or a potential future client,” recommended Ashraf. “Another way is that they can have funding from the university towards students who are looking to start up businesses,” he stated, giving the example of a few other universities in the UK who have had very successful spin-off businesses, such as the University of Surrey which had a joint venture with the University of Sussex. One of the things that joint venture resulted in was the company Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, which was allegedly worth around a billion pounds. “So it shows there's a lot of return for those universities which invest in their students.”
The Society has active and sustainable goals for its future in Middlesex University, and plans to hold more events in the remaining months of this academic year, and then beyond into next year. Currently, they aim to hold one event around the end of March, and then another one shortly afterwards. The speakers at these planned events include professors, budding entrepreneurs, and graduate business trainers, showing that the society has a wide range of contacts for a start-up society and holds much potential to benefit curious and ambitious students on campus, as well as the university itself.
Another of their aspirations is to start a radio channel on entrepreneurship and technology on the university’s very own POW FM, but for now the society has a weekly mentoring session in collaboration with the enterprise development hub, which runs every Tuesday afternoon from 2 till 3 PM.
The Entrepreneurs Society also expressed their willingness to collaborate with other societies around the university, preferably the business-related ones, though “they don’t really seem to have a big presence on campus.” Ashraf stated, however, that they would be open to collaborate with any society for events and campaigns, even those that are cultural and religious. “Entrepreneurial spirit can link with any society, even the cultural societies or the religious societies,” Ashraf assured, “I know they could add an element of entrepreneurship to their societies, so if we talk to their society members then it could be potentially useful.”
For those who want to contact the MDX Entrepreneurs Society for information or potential collaboration, their Instagram handle is @mdxentrepreneurs.