For students studying MSc Enterprise and Entrepreneurship with the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies, the opportunity to visit startups and co-working spaces is of immense value. Not only do they get to see first-hand how businesses operate in such a community environment, but they also get to hear from industry experts deeply involved in starting and scaling businesses.
On the 9th of March, students were given the chance to do just that when they visited Castleton Mill, a co-working space located in the heart of Leeds, just south of the River Aire. Castleton Mill is home to a diverse range of businesses, from freelancers to small startups to larger companies. The students were welcomed by their hosts, Sue Jennings and Virginia Subiotto, who explained the history of the Mill before Virginia took them on a tour of the facilities and introduced them to some of the entrepreneurs who work there.
The students were impressed by the atmosphere at Castleton Mill. They noted the vibrant and collaborative environment, and the students also found the diversity of businesses operating within the space to be inspiring, as it showcased the range of opportunities available to those with an entrepreneurial spirit.
After the tour, the students settled down to hear from their guest speaker, James Gupta, founder of Synap and an alumni of the University of Leeds, who had successfully launched his own business after graduation. James shared his journey from studying a medical degree at the University of Leeds, to launching and growing Synap, a successful tech business which began by using spaced repetition to help students study more effectively. They now work directly with businesses and universities to help their students learn and provide effective and secure online exam platforms.
James discussed some of the greatest challenges he faced when starting his business, including securing funds, scaling up, and building a customer base. However, he also shared the excitement and fulfilment that came with leading his own venture. He also discussed the business models utilised by Synap, giving students insight into the inner workings of a growing business. The students were engaged throughout James’s talk, and they were particularly interested in his tips for scaling up a business.
The visit to Castleton Mill was an eye-opening experience for the students, who left feeling energized and inspired to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. Sue Jennings remarked, “It was great to have such a buzzing crowd visiting us here at the Mill.”
This was echoed by Virginia Subiotto, who said “It was lovely having such a positive and eager group of people at the Mill.”
Overall, the visit to Castleton Mill was a reminder of the value of hands-on learning experiences for students pursuing careers in entrepreneurship. By exposing them to real-world examples of successful businesses working in a collaborative environment and providing them with the opportunity to learn from those who have gone before them, students are better equipped to understand the challenges and possibilities of starting ventures.