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Sheffield Startup Story, Freshly Squeezed
by Startacus Admin
Our Sheffield startup month is whizzing by and we have been blown away (metaphorically of course) by the level of talented and innovative self starters we have been lucky enough to come across… like Celina and Laura from Freshly Squeezed Events Company.
They have had quite a year of it so far, and were only too pleased to share some of their experience of starting a business in Sheffield with the Startacus community.
We'll let Laura take it from here...
Our whirlwind of a story began earlier this year when we decided to take the first steps towards self employment, with the launch of our first business venture Freshly Squeezed Events Company. It was a daunting prospect, but we quickly realised that there was an amazing amount of support available for startup businesses in Sheffield, without which we wouldn't be where we are today.
Shortly after launching Freshly Squeezed fate stepped in and we were lucky enough to win tickets to attend the Sheffield Start Up weekend, held at The University of Sheffield. I can't say public speaking is something we consider ourselves confident at, but this was an amazing opportunity to pitch to a panel of industry professionals. There was just one small problem, this event was mainly aimed at companies looking to develop a product or technology - not a service based business like our events management company. Luckily, we had a great idea for a technology that we felt would really benefit the events industry, and this was the perfect opportunity to put it to the test.
We went on to place third at the end of the weekend, but more importantly we took the first steps towards developing our second business planabee - an interactive online community for the events industry.
As graduates of Sheffield Hallam University we applied to use the office space in 'The Hatchery' which provides a free workplace for startup businesses for a year. Not only has this given us a place to really concentrate on developing our businesses but we've also met some invaluable contacts who share the office with us. Once we had carried out market research and finalised our business plan we decided to enter planabee into the 2014 Enterprise Challenge, which is ran by Sheffield Hallam's research and innovation team and we're extremely proud to have made it into the final of this competition. Another award we were delighted to win was the Prove It competition for which we were awarded £250 to put towards a demonstration video for the product.
This leads me on nicely to the latest milestone in our journey, the launch of our Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Through this we aim to raise £15,000 to pay for our product development, cost of labour, and really getting the planabee name out there. This is the biggest and most nerve wracking stage in this process so far; mainly because we're venturing into the unknown, but we're excited to finally unveil planabee to the world and we're confident everyone will see the benefit it will have on the events industry.
If we were to offer some words of advice for startup businesses it would be to network, network and network some more. There are a range of free networking opportunities taking place around Sheffield, and South Yorkshire on a regular basis and you never know who you might meet. We've also found that surrounding ourselves with a community of like-minded individuals offers a great support network if things get a little overwhelming. We've also found that a lot of our business has come through contacts we've made during these events, so we can't rate them enough. Keeping on top of two businesses is a lot of hard work, and making sure you find a work life balance is extremely important, but the feeling of pride and satisfaction when you reach those triumphs overshadows any obstacles you will undoubtedly face along the way. We strongly believe in our 3 P's - patience, positivity and passion!
Thanks for the great story Laura!
Why not take a look at planabee in our fab collaboration space and give the ladies some support on their new startup?