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At Imperial College Business School we drive global business and society through the fusion of business and an entrepreneurial mind set. It’s this entrepreneurial spirit that’s behind a recent student-led initiative, MBA Connect, created by Full-Time MBA student Byron McCaughey.

MBA Connect is a student-led group of experts who support and mentor startup businesses created by students across Imperial College London’s world-leading science and engineering programmes. The group is made up of students from across Imperial College Business School’s suite of MBA programmes and incorporates various professional backgrounds and nationalities.

“The aim of MBA Connect is to create a bridge between business school students and the thriving entrepreneurial community at Imperial”, says Byron.

Science and engineering startups at Imperial College London can benefit from MBA Connect’s four areas of focus:

  • Industry insights (areas covered include oil and gas, technology, finance, banking, healthcare and sport, amongst others)
  • Business planning, strategy and raising funds
  • Marketing and communications
  • Sales and pitch preparation

MBA Connect’s first project coached two exciting startups on pitching skills for the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. Byron explains, “We helped them tell a compelling story and sell the true potential of their ideas.”

Each year Imperial College London awards entrepreneurial non-European graduates with credible business ideas Graduate Entrepreneur Visas to extend their stay and establish their business in the UK.

Christian Adams, International Student Advisor at Imperial College London, explains the process for entrepreneurs to apply for the visas: “The business ideas are first assessed by an Initial Assessment Panel before graduates pitch their business idea, including its financial plan and business development strategy, to the Graduate Entrepreneur Panel which is similar in style to Dragons Den.”

Shubham Singh

MBA Connect worked with Imperial engineering graduates Shubham Singh of MaterializeX and Aditya Sakhuja of DRIP to prepare their pitch for the Graduate Entrepreneur Panel. Shubham graduated from Imperial College London with an MSc in Advanced Chemical Engineering and Aditya recently graduated with an M.Eng. in Electronic and Information Engineering.

MaterializeX has developed 100% biodegradable and low cost road and flooring for short events such as festivals where affordable infrastructure is required for a short time. The product is made exclusively from organic by-products of large industrial plants.

The business is the brainchild of co-founders Haidin Rashid’s final thesis project and Shubham’s research into algae’s CO2 absorption properties. Shubham says, “Our passion for making an impactful contribution in this field was the starting point of our collaboration.”

Shubham worked with Byron McCaughey and Full-Time MBA student Retief Swart from MBA Connect: “Byron helped me to prepare the business pitch using convincing storytelling and gave me valuable tips on presenting and taking questions”, he says. “Retief worked with me to create a business plan for investors – this was hugely helpful given Retief’s background working with at a venture capitalist firm that invested in ‘impact’ companies like ours.”

Aditya Sakhuja

DRIP is the world’s first co-bot machine that dispenses shots and basic mixers in nightclubs, pouring eight drinks in a minute and serving two customers simultaneously. As well as cutting down service time in nightclubs, DRIP is a new way to manage stock that reduces alcohol theft and spillage, offering prospects a potential 35% saving on operational costs.

Co-founders Aditya Sakhuja and Aditya Parmar came up with DRIP when they realised the poor state of crowd management at bars and nightclubs in London.

Aditya Sakhuja says, “What started as a simple solution for long queues at the bar soon became the most efficient bar automation solution for high-volume clubs.”

On his collaboration with MBA Connect Aditya Sakhuja says, “I worked with Byron from MBA Connect to get support for my Graduate Entrepreneur application at Imperial. Byron helped me define the right structure for the pitch. His marketing experience was really useful in coaching me to tell the overarching story of the business to the panel. DRIP is currently raising seed funding and in the final stages of product development.”

Retief Swart

“It is fantastic news that both businesses received the Graduate Entrepreneur Visa and I look forward to seeing other ways in which the MBA Connect group can support them in the future”, Byron says.

Aditya Sakhuja echoes this, “MBA Connect has been very helpful to DRIP and DRIP will collaborate with MBA Connect in the near future.”

“MBA Connect is a great initiative and I encourage other startups at Imperial to take advantage of the expert advice from people with a variety of backgrounds and expertise”, Shubham says.

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