In it’s 10th year, The Santander University’s Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme is a five-month accelerator which prepares entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed and grow their business. Winning businesses receive funding, mentoring, funded interns as well as credible networks. This year, Alfie from Student Travel tips was nominated by the Basecamp Enterprise team and they caught up with him during lockdown…
Tell us about Student Travel tips and how it all started:
Student Travel Tips is an online travel platform with advice for students and young travellers. I found that when young people go abroad to live, travel or work, it’s difficult to locate information that’s relevant to us. Scrolling endlessly through blogs and guidebooks is great but it’s very time consuming. We found that the most trustworthy advice out there is from fellow likeminded students, so I set up this platform so that everyone has access to valuable information all in one place. Where to live and how to get around, what to do and where to go, with the best bars and clubs and how to stay safe. When I moved to Brazil last year, I was nervous about settling in without a job, a house, and essentials. Exchanging a few Whatsapp messages with a new friend, I was recommended all the above and more. I felt very lucky and comfortable to have this kind of insider info, so why not pass on this advice to more people? After nagging a lot of my fellow students to fill in a spreadsheet of their tips and a lot of fiddling around with web design, Student Travel Tips grew and grew.
What has been the most rewarding part of your business journey?
It’s when I receive an email or text from someone who has benefited from the website or when people say, ‘I wish we had this when I went on my year abroad!’. It’s such a fun project which brings out my creative side and passion for travel and language, to know that the website’s core is shining through is a great feeling. I never thought I’d be considered as a ‘young entrepreneur’ and I’m grateful to the Basecamp team for this recognition, not only in helping me grow the business, but also putting me forward for the Santander Emerging Entrepreneurs Programme.
How has Student Travel tips ‘changed’ amongst Covid-19?
It’s fair to say the last few months have been very strange for everyone. I’ve tried my best to adapt and continue to grow as time has gone on. The social media pages have doubled in size, I’ve collected many more blogs related to cooking during lockdown, stay-at-home yoga and I launched the Student Travel Talk Show– which you can listen to on Spotify and Apple. It’s been a fun project where I interview guests about their travel adventures, essential items and top tips. I love the idea of slow travelling, moving to the country for a deeper, enriched experience and that’s what Student Travel Tips is about. I think post COVID-19, this is how travel should be. Bruce Poon Tip, CEO of G Adventures called it ‘community tourism.’ This idea of making a conscious effort to meet local people, eat local food and do local things will mutually benefit everyone and will be remembered for life.
What are your main takeaways from the Santander Entrepreneurship workshops so far?
It’s been the added drive I needed and the networks I’ve gained. Immediately after each session I’m inspired to connect with new people and just push on with my website. I really enjoyed the session with Ex England cricketer, Jeremy Snape, introducing us to the Performance Edge zone, looking specifically at the winning mindset of leading entrepreneurs. I really benefited from our session this week on Customer Discovery. A lot of the time your customers are based on your assumptions, mapping out a customer journey can help you to visualise who is going to be using your product/service and can help you plan marketing messages more effectively. A notable other great takeaway was the cold reach email, we were challenged to send an email to someone who inspired us in business or life. I went for the one and only Bear Grylls and am really keen on getting him on my podcast… watch this space!
What difference has the Basecamp Enterprise team and Santander support made to your business?
The Basecamp Enterprise team at the University of Bristol has been very supportive and encouraging. I have received one-to-one support from the advisers and find their start-up workshops inspiring. I’ve found that New Enterprise Competition helped me stay motivated while learning new skills along the way. I learned how to deliver a pitch, received great feedback and was awarded funding of £1000, allowing the website and customer base to grow. Being involved in an Enterprise programme run by one of the world’s leading bank is all the motivation I need. I’ve only had 3 workshops so far and I’m learning lots about the importance of goals, horizon planning, establishing the core values of the business. I have another 4 months so I’ll be able to answer that question better I think in a couple of months’ time!
What top tips would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Hard work and showing up. Even if you have idea or not, putting time and effort into a passion of yours, you never know where it could go. You may think you don’t have the time to do it but if you’re motivated, you can make time. Showing up could mean a number of things. Take advantage of the Careers Service and the resources available at your university. I only discovered the Basecamp Enterprise team in my final year, but they offer start up workshops and events, one to one advice and the opportunity to build your network. Chatting to other students with different ideas is really inspiring. After just one workshop with other students, I already felt as though there was a community of us all doing what we love doing. Just get chatting!
Where can we find you?
Yes please do find me! As much as I hate it, I am on my phone daily so if you have any questions or just want to chat, please do send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the website and our social media pages @studenttraveltipsuk. Look forward to connecting with more of you.