Student start-ups. Fuel for tomorrow’s economy

Coronavirus has forced us to redefine how we work and how we engage with other businesses. Yet whilst larger organisations have been slower to adapt to shifts in demand, it has been the small business who has taken the lead in evolving and reacting to the world’s pandemic.

Smaller businesses have been able to transform their operational processes to meet changes in their customers’ behaviour. They don’t have the expensive overheads, rigid manufacturing processes or immoveable capital that has proven restrictive to more established organisations.

Tomorrow’s world of business will be very different, much of the economic effects of Covid-19 will force significant change. And some of this change will open up opportunities for small businesses. The role of start-ups and SMEs will be more integral, with new respect and support being given to our entrepreneurial thinkers.

The pandemic has also reinserted social mission into the heart of many businesses. Rather than merely being a buzz word, we can now attach a real meaning to it. Small businesses have demonstrated this in their quick diversification of product – clothing manufacturers making scrubs for the NHS, a gin distiller making hand sanitiser. There’s a better appreciation of the community we work and reside in. The benefits of shopping locally at a time when supplies from overseas are compromised, will build resilience into local supply chains.

How we do business with other people has been economised with our speedy adoption of technology; online video conferencing software, selling on Facebook and Instagram, e-commerce. Again, the smaller business has been able to utilise and react to this faster and easier.

Students and graduates from UWTSD will start to look for alternative ways to work. With Covid-19 impacting employment opportunities, there will be more of an impetus to start a small business, or to work as a sole trader. We may also see a trend towards blended-work choices with graduates choosing a combination of regular paid part time work and self-employment/running their own business.

UWTSD has always championed the start-up. Our students are encouraged from an early stage to think entrepreneurially about their studies – enterprise is embedded in all the courses offered. There are also talks from entrepreneurs, workshops, advice sessions and even a pop-up shop that they can book to try some of their ideas out (Creative Bubble).

We’ve caught up with a few of our graduate businesses to see how they have been affected and how they have adapted. They have also shared some tips with us to help other students who might be thinking of starting their own business:

Alix Charles (Performing Arts graduate)

Martin Eastwood (Music Technology graduate)

Jay Smith (Performing Arts graduate)


If you are a student or graduate and would like some advice starting up your own business (or just want to chat through your ideas), please email