Summer School cylcing in Hyde Park

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I love building technology gadgets. I want to build things and sell the stuff I build.

I’ve played around with electronics, robotic prosthetics, Segway models, rockets, grappling-hook launchers, drones and more. As a pre-teen I was obsessed with flying and constructed multiple flying machines/wings and would strap them to my back, hop on my bike and cycle as fast as I could down the biggest hill I could find (despite other successes, unfortunately these contraptions never seemed to work).

A big challenge for me has always been to learn how to build a business and sell the things that I build.

In February 2015 I completed a graduate scheme working as a mechanical engineer for a large American corporation. While working I spent a great deal of time researching the next step of my journey to launch my own technology business.

My cohort was full of creative, culturally diverse and ambitious people. Not everyone wanted to start their own business but everyone seemed to be passionate about innovation and ideas and I had never been in an environment like it. I felt inspired.
Summer School student
Summer School 2016

It was during this research I came across the Master’s course at Imperial College Business School: MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management. I applied and received an offer, however I must admit that the idea of leaving the working world and entering academia once more was daunting.

I have a number of friends who, after finishing undergraduate or postgraduate degrees unrelated to business, went straight into launching their own start-up. The question on my mind was always: “Can a university course really teach me to build a business and sell my future products, or is entrepreneurship just a natural talent that cannot be learnt in a classroom environment?”. This debate would often appear in my conversations with entrepreneurial friends and I was uncertain about accepting the offer for the Master’s course.

During this period I discovered the Entrepreneurial Smart Camp Summer School course at Imperial. In my mind this would be a great opportunity to assess the ‘vibe’ at Imperial, to see whether it was the right environment for me and whether it would help me on my journey. I applied and thankfully secured a place.

As I walked into the first lecture of the Entrepreneurial Smart Camp, my immediate impression was that my cohort was full of creative, culturally diverse and ambitious people. Not everyone wanted to start their own business but everyone seemed to be passionate about innovation and ideas and I had never been in an environment like it. I felt inspired.

Every day in the first week featured a half day of lectures followed by an intense entrepreneurial exercise where we split into teams of six people and had to develop an original business idea, conduct basic research and pitch the idea to a panel of judges in the space of a few hours. It was exciting, stressful and empowering all at the same time. The three-week programme taught me some very practical skills such as pitching, idea generation and even mindfulness (entrepreneurs need to learn how to deal with stress!). I also studied theory on revenue models and business strategy, intellectual property and empathic design, to name just a few areas.

We debated business case studies and regularly had visits from guest speakers including Managing Director at Facebook UK/Ireland Steve Hatch and Co-founder of Rocket Internet Andrea Olivari.

The three weeks concluded in a final pitch day where each team presented the business idea they had been developing for the duration of the course. It was a tense moment bearing in mind each team had been working so hard.

I developed some great friendships during the Entrepreneurial Smart Camp and have since travelled to mainland Europe to meet up with some of them. There was a lot of socialising and the Thames boat party was a great way to finish the course. We also went on a trip to Oxford sightseeing and had the option to go on a number of theatre trips and tours around London. I now have a great network of business contacts and international friends.

The insights from the Summer School had a big impact on me and I loved the Imperial College community so much that I chose to accept my offer for the MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management programme and spend a whole further year here! Imperial’s Summer School was definitely worth attending and it really helped me on my journey to launching my own hi-tech business, which is now progressing successfully!

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Nicolas Moura

About Rory Ryan

MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management
Rory Ryan is an MSc Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management class of 2015-16 student. After graduating from Imperial College Business School, Rory continued working on his startup, ZiO Health, where he is the Founder and Chief Product Officer.