It’s not often we know exactly how a startup, whether successful or not, began. The story of Facebook is one well documented; however, what about the other startups? Fortunately, podcasts such as ‘How I Built This’ exist to cover exactly that. Still, I feel many startups that are in ‘the middle’ phase are not given the opportunity to tell their story.
So, as well as trying to be transparent with you all, I plan to document my Alt Ed startup journey so that my Alt Ed-ers have an insight into the life of an entrepreneur. My previous blog post, briefly covered who I am but didn’t cover the origins of Alt Ed. In the following blog posts (with this being part 1), I will uncover the origins of Alt Ed.
Let’s rewind to the summer of 2015, before my second year at university began. In-between the 2 months I worked at RBS and the two weeks I spent working at Bloomberg, I had a conversation with some of the guys in a book chat I was part of (shout out Alex, Lanre, Shingi and Tim). The conversation revolved around living a more meaningful life and doing more at university. I can’t recall exactly how we fell onto the subject of mental health; however, I recall mentioning I wanted to hold 1 or 2 mental health events at some point in my second year and they were completely supportive, with some offering me help if I needed it. From there I began planning events I wanted to hold during the year.
Warwick University has an official mental health week; however, as many students agreed in a survey ran, they were unaware of exactly what took place during that week.
They felt there was a lack of promotion and wanted more introspective events during the official university mental health week. This was another motivation to hold the events. Surprisingly, it seemed there were a select number of students also looking to do the same. By speaking to each individual, we collectively agreed to work on a mental health week filled with various events discussing mental health and mental illnesses within the African-Caribbean community. Taking place 3 or so weeks before the official 2015/2016 university mental health week, we were able to gage the success of our events compared to what the university offered. And that was how the framework of Alt Ed developed…
Off the back of those events, I reached out to organisations for financial support and to improve the prototype. Rejections are not foreign to me. I have had my fair share of rejections, receiving over 20 rejections from different firms for summer internships in my first year and second year. So, the rejection from UnLtd, an organisation I reached out to for financial support, actually spurred me to keep going. Though a smaller budget than envisioned, I was ecstatic to receive £300 funding from O2 think Big. Without that funding, my most successful event, ‘A Night of Talents and Testimonies‘, wouldn’t have taken place in my final year at university. Nevertheless, I had to begin prioritising…
***Quick shout out to Sogo, Co-Founder of Limitless. He was the one who told me about O2 Think Big and the Teach First Innovation Series. Checkout the wonderful work they’re doing here!***
***Another Quick shout out to Tim, Co-Founder of Fanbytes. Thanks to his help and advice I have been able to make more progress with Alt Ed.***