MonthOctober 2016

Does university teach you enough to start a business?

A question that has come to my mind a number of times these past weeks and even more so today after watching the snapchat of Fraser Williams, co-founder of Repairly.

His story today showed him and the team working on plans for Repairly, mainly financial plans.



He spoke about the importance of planning but also mentioned how one of his co-founders compliments the team well as he’s good at planning – implying Fraser isn’t?

In any case, planning isn’t necessarily a skill you will learn at University, mainly because there are endless ways to go about it. Yet planning is something I am learning a tonne about now on my placement – so is some ‘experience’ needed initially to gain that skill set?

It’s a concern that has come across my mind on several occasions when looking at young entrepreneurs – do you really know enough yet?? I certainly don’t feel like I am even close, yet many around me are starting businesses successfully… so do they know a lot more than me?

Fraser goes on to say that he doesn’t believe planning is necessary for the starting phases – it takes time away from the hustle. Planning, however isn’t the only skill; sales, finance management, people management etc. all skills that you won’t be guaranteed to learn at university yet are crucial for business success.

So how do people succeed – they bring in the right people!

Repairly’s team is growing, constantly bringing in new people that compliment nicely. So no, university doesn’t teach you everything you need to know to start a business, yes experience will help you improve, but you’ll never know it all – as they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!


(Hear from Fraser himself on snapchat @fraser357)

Getting Ahead With Jon Powell

Getting Ahead With Jon Powell…

Enterprise Team Manager, Director at Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, Director at Enterprise Education UK and co-founder of Employer Solutions. Jon has been there, starting a business whilst at University, now he acts to support and encourage student startups. In this episode, we cover all angles of enterprise and education.


Details Matter

This week I was able to check off a bucket list item – have a coffee master class.

Thanks to Taylor St. Baristas I was able to spend a day learning about coffee – from sourcing, to roasting, to brewing. The level of detail covered was incredible and this was in the short version of weeks and months’ worth of training!

It really isn’t truly appreciated how much of a science and an art coffee as a topic is. What stood out for me the most was the attention to detail given at every single stage of the process – in specialty coffee at least.

How is a barista tested?

They’re given a bag of beans, access to a machine they’ve never used, potentially a water supply they’ve never used and a set amount of time to pull the perfect espresso shot. Sounds easy, right?

Grind the coffee, tamp, place into the espresso machine and press the button. If it’s not quite perfect then that’s just the tester being picky? Well I thought similarly, until I tasted an almost perfect shot compared to perfection, the difference was clear.

This test is extremely impressive due to the level of detail that it requires. If the shot isn’t quite right then perhaps the grind size needs altering, but that will then impact on extraction percentage and time needed to extract, but that can influence the end weight… the implications of the smallest of changes are endless – change one thing and something else needs to change. It is the ability to consider all these small details and work them out under pressure that qualifies a high level barista and it is that ability that stands out as a lesson that can be learnt and applied in different environments.

A barista will care about the parts per million (ppm) of the water coming into their machine and will apply filters to make it suits their requirements. The process of heating the water isn’t simple either, with potentially three stages of heating in just one machine; what temperature to bring each level to is an ongoing investigation.

No detail is too small to be important, if it is a variable they can in some way control, they will!

You might be reading this thinking “I don’t even like coffee”. Even if you don’t, appreciate the scrutiny of the process and think about how you can apply that level of detail to your work – things might not seem important on the surface, but even the smallest of changes can impact the bigger picture.

P.S. I tried my hand at latte art… I’m pretty proud for my first attempt 🙂


Getting Ahead Highlights Reel – Episode 10

Getting Ahead Highlights Reel!

9 guests have come and gone and I take a look back in this 10th episode at two of the topic discussed – sport and university.

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