Entrepreneur’s market:
Innovation and entrepreneurship at the core of the pioneering new King’s Business School

In each issue of InTouch, we’ll ask King’s Alumni and entrepreneurs to share some words of advice and to expand on their own experiences.

King’s College London is redefining the provision of business education. Launching in 2017, the King’s Business School is being established in response to challenges posed by changing career patterns, digital technology and globalisation. The King’s Business School represents an exciting journey for King’s: it is building upon the strengths of its long-standing School of Management & Business and will draw upon our many other faculties in its teaching and research. The School will capitalise on King’s location in the centre one of the world’s great global cities and financial centres.

King’s is also engaged in a major project to support entrepreneurship and innovation amongst its staff, students and alumni. Our new Entrepreneurship Institute will sit alongside the School, helping King’s to identify, nurture and develop the entrepreneurs of tomorrow from amongst the King’s community, providing them with the professional support, financial resources, and bespoke mentoring to complement their classroom-based learning. In addition, the King’s Business Club is the university’s most popular undergraduate society with over 1,000 members and was voted Student Enterprise Society of the Year in 2014.

The King’s Business School aims to at least double the size of its faculty and grow to around 3,000 students by 2023/24 from 1,250 in 2015/16. Undergraduate courses will include the newly launched BSc in International Management, a four year degree programme which includes one year abroad, taught in conjunction with the School of Global Affairs.

New Masters courses focus on Entrepreneurship and Banking & Finance. We are piloting executive short courses targeted at the professions.

So what does this mean for our King’s community? We asked King’s alumni and student entrepreneurs to share some words of advice and to expand on their own experiences.

 

CHRISTIAN GLADWELL
Client President, P&G North America, Carat (History, 1996)

What advice have you carried with you throughout your career?

Reach for the stars, you might just make the tree tops. I was lucky enough to hear those words from a teacher of mine when I was about 11. He was absolutely right and I’ve tried to push myself by living to that ideal. It’s important to counter- balance that view with a pretty brutal assessment of where you are as an individual in order to keep improving and therefore resetting the bar. The best person to do that is oneself.

What advice would you give to your fellow alumni considering a career change?

What’s stopping you? Most people won’t take the leap so you must start with that level of commitment. Do your research, start with Google, know the direction you want to head in and map out that journey as best you can. However, be prepared to take risks don’t look for perfection in a business plan or financial projection; it doesn’t exist.

You’re a history graduate. How did your studies at King’s prepare you for the business world?

The study of past events is the only way to shape the future; history is to business what playing the piano is to music: the best grounding.

What is the philosophy you follow in order to focus on innovation?

Read history books. From the Roman Empire to the modern age, the only thing we can be certain of is change, therefore you have two choices: focus on innovation or have innovation focus on you.

Who are your mentors?

I’m always on the look out to learn from all sorts of folks. I’ve been a mentor for organisations such as the Marketing Society and sometimes one learns from the people one is supposed to be mentoring!

MARGO MARRONE
Founder of The Organic Pharmacy (Pharmacy, 1997)

You made quite a dramatic career change, from working as a pharmacist to starting your own business. What challenges did you face in taking that entrepreneurial leap?

Fear and scepticism were the biggest challenges. Fear on my part: what if I fail, what if no one likes it, what if it’s not successful, what if I lose everything? Scepticism from others. Moving from a traditional career where security is guaranteed to a high-risk, unknown path is very hard, but having a strong belief in what you are doing along with the knowledge that hard work and perseverance make your vision come true are the cornerstones of success.

The Organic Pharmacy expanded rapidly within its first year. What would you have done differently in those early stages?

Growing too fast and expanding internationally too soon comes with major problems, such as controlling your brand and ensuring international distributors follow the brand guidelines and overall image. It became a real struggle. My advice would be take it slow, but if you do get a great international offer, make sure you visit them in their local market.

What advice would you give to King’s alumni considering starting their own business?

Be truly passionate about your business, make a business plan, make sure you have enough money to keep the business going for a year, do your market research so you know exactly where, how and to whom you want to market your products. Be ready to think like an entrepreneur. This generally means: how do I solve the problem? Or getting past 20 people who say ‘no’ or block your progress until you find the solution.

How did your time at King’s prepare you for the business world?

The pharmacy degree I did had a specific module that looked at different careers in pharmacy, but I do wish that there was a module like the one King’s offers now, that would have been so helpful.

If you were a King’s student today and looking to start a business, what would you want to learn from the university first?

Ideally I would want to know how to do market research, how to write a business plan, how to borrow money or find the money for my investment, and how to market my business.

What is the philosophy you follow in order to focus on innovation?

I love innovation, so for me it is to look at how things can be better: how can I use the ingredients in nature to be better and to create a better product, treatment and experience? How the customer feels is key, so I want everything to be results driven.

JOSE MORA & ANDREA ORRU
Founders and developers of Roomor (MSc International Management, 2015 and MSc Intelligent Systems, 2015)

Roomor operates as both a customer app and a business-to-business tool, addressing a gap in the market for a completely automated rental property platform. Allowing users to find their ideal properties and giving agencies access to reach customers, Jose and Andrea began working on the business in September 2015 and have made incredibly rapid progress, securing investment and forming crucial relationships with property agencies.

How has your time at King’s prepared you for the business world?

The access to business clubs and events has provided unique opportunities. The people we have met (and continue to meet) and the connections we have made through being part of King’s Enterprise Incubate has been invaluable. We have also benefitted from the international profile of King’s, meeting people from so many different backgrounds and nationalities.

Innovation: what does it mean to you?

When people talk about innovation, they are often referring purely to scientific or technological innovation, but we believe you can innovate with business and with services and that this can be beneficial to society.

What is the philosophy you follow in order to focus on innovation?

Don’t get stuck. We try not to get too focused on the smaller details, instead we constantly try to keep moving forward. The key to this is self-awareness. We continually ask ourselves, ‘Are we making progress?’