A team of top entrepreneurs have joined De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) as the university’s first Entrepreneurs In Residence.
They will help to mentor students and graduates and provide a link between academia and the corporate world, becoming lynchpins for the entrepreneurial spirit embodied at DMU.
- Design and brand consultant Zakera Kali
- Euros Jones-Evans, founder of Welsh production company Tanabi Group
- Serial entrepreneur and mentor Percy Emmett
- Financial expert Chandila Fernando
- Aatin Anadkat, founder of the Maiyango brand and The Fish & The Chip Restaurant
- Textiles boss Sunny Patel, of the Meesha Group
- Media and PR expert Jenny Cross, of Cross Productions
- TravCom founder and mentor Jay Patel
- Commercial Director of Thorpes Joinery, Jamie Thorpe
The team will be based at The Innovation Centre, which supports start-ups and entrepreneurs across Leicester. Located on Oxford Street on the edge of the DMU campus, the centre runs a free, public co-working space, masterclasses and organises regular networking events as well as providing tenancies for small businesses.
Simon Baines, Innovation Centre manager, said: “More and more of what we do is working with the wider business community to help them solve problems and deal with challenges around growth.
“Working with the Entrepreneurial and Business community is so important. When we speak to students and guests, what they want is to hear from people who have been there and done it. People who know what the entrepreneurial journey is like and who can share their experiences and that’s what our mentors can provide.”
The Innovation Centre’s flexible Co-working Café has more than 2,000 members, the majority of whom closely match the profile of most Leicester businesses. In the city, more than 90% of businesses are start-ups or SMEs which employ between one and nine staff. The IC is home to business tenants who employ between one and five staff.
This September sees the return of its popular Connect @ the Co-Working Café event, which combines networking with monthly masterclasses or talks from successful business people and attracts 50 to 70 people a month.
The Innovation Centre is also home to The Crucible, DMU’s start-up programme which sees graduates receive two years’ worth of mentoring and support as they launch their own businesses.
Oliver Shepherd is on the current Crucible programme, developing his sports platform. He said: “When you leave university you feel like you on your own support-wise, so it’s great that DMU is doing this. Crucible has been integral to supporting my business and the mentoring I have had so far has enabled me to pivot and develop.”
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Aatin has been working with DMU for the past 12 years as a judge on Fox’s Lair which challenges first year business students to deliver a business pitch to real-life entrepreneurs.
He said: “I’ve always found this place to be focused on entrepreneurs and start ups and business. Being a mentor is really exciting, it’s a learning journey. It is so much fun, and you develop yourself too. I am looking forward to working with my mentees.”
Zakeria Kali, who is a DMU lecturer, part of Insight Consultancy and owner of Peace & Blessings London a luxury stationery brand which also leases an office space within The Innovation Centre, said: “I’m really happy to be part of this project and to give back.”
Posted on Thursday 6th September 2018