Suresh Jones

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Last Monday 7 November, students on the Full-Time MBA programme pitched their ideas at SW7 180. Organised by Imperial College London’s Enterprise Lab, SW7 180 is a rapid-fire, micro-pitch event where people from SW7, including Imperial College London students, pitch themselves or their ideas in one minute speeches to get exposure in and around South Kensington.

Before the micro-pitches kicked off, Alex Bond, CEO of FreshCheck and Chemistry PhD student, shared his start-up story with the audience. FreshCheck is a sticker which makes bacterial contamination of fresh meat and dairy visible with a colour change from blue to orange.

The start-up was a finalist in the Enterprise Lab’s 2016 Venture Capitalist Challenge and has won funding from Shell LiveWIRE, Climate-KIC Greenhouse and the Innovation Forum Business Competition. The next stage is to secure £250,000 in funding and build an Advisory Board to take the product to market.

The entrepreneurship energy in the room was infectious. Some Full-Time MBA students who took part shared the story behind their pitches and explained how Imperial College Business School fosters entrepreneurship in its students.

Argi Harianto knows a thing or two about data, having worked as a product manager at Indonesia’s oldest credit agency Pefindo. He told the audience at SW7 180: “I think it’s really unfair for young people like us with thin files to be assessed on data that doesn’t really make sense in the current paradigm”.

Argi pitched a start-up that would model “better scoring data” from social media and mobile phone contracts. This publically available data is already used in China to assess the risk of borrowing to younger applicants but there are few players on the EU market.

Asked whether a larger credit rating agency could simply extend its reach to include publically available data, Argi is confident that “this is a model only a start-up can build”. The network of contacts on the Full-Time MBA programme, he said, and the expertise of his Career Coaches are helping him transition from a data analyst to an entrepreneurial data scientist.

Suresh Jones opened his micro-pitch telling the audience: “When I was 26, I left the US to take an international work assignment. If that’s not taking a risk, I don’t know what is. I’m pitching myself as a co-founder but I’m really looking for a team that’s willing to risk it all in order to build something great”.

Suresh described the “entrepreneurial spirit” on the Full-Time MBA programme as motivating him to take part in the event. With eight years of corporate work in engineering and project management behind him, Suresh didn’t know if starting a business was for him.

“On day one at Imperial College Business School, I learnt that to be an entrepreneur you had to take risks”, Suresh said. The programme has helped him break out of the corporate mindset and see business differently.

Now he’s focussed on learning the skills to build a business. “By the end of the MBA I want to launch or be in the process of launching a new business”, he said, “I’m currently working with a couple of classmates on an idea and consulting with faculty and industry professionals at the Business School”.

On studying the Full-Time MBA at Imperial College Business School, Suresh said, “The very, very unique thing about studying at Imperial College London is the connection to technical expertise and the entrepreneurial environment that is fostered. For example, if I need a computer engineer, there’s a network to set that up”.

Full-Time MBA student Philippe C. Fattal pitched his experience in commercial real estate investing and diversified business lending, and told the audience at SW7 180 that he’s “looking to help somebody who has a great business idea that solves a real world problem but isn’t sure how to take the first steps”.

“As a former corporate banker I’ve supported businesses in their search of funding and I’ve pitched these businesses to internal risk divisions in order to raise venture capital”, he said.

Philippe is looking for a technical co-founder, someone with an idea that they’re invested in or passionate about and looking to take it to the next level – something Philippe can offer with his expertise in finance and communications.

“The location of Imperial College Business School as part of a prominent science and engineering university means that I can access the ideas and technical expertise to go big”, Philippe said afterwards.

The event was followed by a freeform networking reception where pitchers and the audience formed relationships and shared ideas. Bringing together ideas and people is exactly what SW7 180 is all about. The fusion of business and technical expertise across the College sparks long-lasting networks and business relationships that go well beyond the classroom.

SW7 180 is organised by the Enterprise Lab, Imperial College London’s hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Philippe SW7

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