During the 2018 Christmas holidays Sarah Fisk was able to attend the Summer Start Up programme run by the University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship. This programme provides students with an opportunity to fast-track business or social enterprise ideas into realities by working on them full-time for ten weeks. During the programme students participated in workshops and seminars delivered by entrepreneurship experts. The programme taught students the Lean Business Model method, and they were provided with supportive mentors as they worked on their business idea. Sarah was one of two recipients of a $4,500 Ara Foundation grant to enable attendance on the course.
Sarah described Summer Start Up as an “eye-opening” introduction to running her own business. One of the aspects she enjoyed most was the sharing of information by local business professionals would come in and teach the students about different aspects of business, from law, to insuring and registering a company, to marketing which was Sarah’s favourite aspect. Sarah said “I learnt things I did not even think about. It made me realise that it is very difficult to start a business alone and it is best to start with a solid team”.
Initially, Sarah started the programme with the idea of founding a ride-sharing app to allow students to make extra money driving other students to class. Sarah quickly discovered her idea needed major changes. After receiving legal advice from her mentors, she realised the students would need P- licences to receive payments for carrying passengers, and the business could only become a non-profit. According to Sarah this “put a spanner in the works” as she knew students would not want to provide rides to other students for free, meaning her business would probably not succeed.
Although this was a disappointing outcome, Sarah is grateful she learned about these requirements prior to investing money into her business idea.
“Although my time didn’t go as planned, if I didn’t go through the programme and learn these requirements, my business would probably fail. I may have spent a lot of money just to end up at a dead end”.
Starting a business is still a priority for Sarah, but attendance at the Summer Start Up has taught her the importance of not rushing into anything, until she has very carefully thought it through. As the first in her family to graduate, the grant money has allowed Sarah to dream of starting a business, something she says she would have no chance of without.
Sarah would recommend the programme to anyone who has a business idea, as it was incredibly informative and built her confidence. “The program was great in that I made connections, so once I’m ready to get out there again and develop a business idea that will succeed, I know who to go to and what course of action I need to take. Thank you to the Ara Foundation for giving me the opportunity to go on the program it was a great experience overall and I will remember it for a life-time!”.