"I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."

Posted on: 9 July 2020 by Alastair, final year Business Management with a Year in Industry student, currently on a placement in Careers & Employability, University of Liverpool in Graduate stories

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." –Michael Jordan, NBA Legendary Basketball MVP

As a sports enthusiast, this is one of the most famous sporting quotes from arguably one of the greatest sport athletes of all time however; it is a quote which all entrepreneurs also resonate with too. All entrepreneurs have made mistakes, but it is those who are hardworking and show resilience that see their ideas being successful. Liverpool City Region is blessed with these individuals and learning from them is exactly what the Emerge Enterprise Support Programme 2020 offered. 

This year the University once again partnered up with Lab by Capacity who are a community-focused workspace supporting businesses, freelancers, and the third sector in the heart of Liverpool. The programme itself provides students with a unique insight into the realities of running a business, an introduction directly into the Liverpool Business Community, and enables them to build their own network in the city.  

The structure of the programme runs for 12-weeks and workshops are delivered once a week at Lab by Capacity. Each student focused on their business idea and took key learnings away from each session, resulting in them being able to grow and evolve their ideas.  Each week a specialist speaker delivered thought-provoking presentations and exercises. The sessions ranged from all things business-related, such as customer focus, competitors, writing business plans along with pitching masterclasses. Following on from the sessions there was a virtual pitching event to select the top enterprises, with the opportunity for real investors to get involved with cash investments.   

My hat goes off to every single student who put themselves out there and showed the confidence not many have with start-ups. 


The Sessions  

There was a real mix of speakers from high profile businessmen who have built up businesses from nothing, to multi-million-pound organisations and new fresh start-ups and how they are just starting this road to success. The mixture of speakers helped provide insights into different business sectors, catering for all the student's ideas which were so diverse and different.  

  • Value Proposition- Dave Verburg- Director of Asentiv
  • Marketing Strategy- Sarah McCartney- Marketing Consultant
  • A Business Journey- Dougal Paver- Managing Director at Merrion Strategy Ltd
  • Action Learning - Peter Hughes- Impact Manager at Capacity 
  • Pitching Masterclass- Tom Strodtbeck- Managing Director at Global Growth Hub 
  • Growing and Exiting a business- Nick Woodrow- Business Investor  
  • Legal Structures- Helen Rourke- Finance Executive Director  
  • Building a Sales Strategy- Chris Witterick- Lab by Capacity 
  • Growth Strategy- Gary Halpin- Commercial Director at FourSquare Group
  • Building a Brand - Stephen Murray- Creative Director at Design Integrity
  • Financial Modelling- Matthew Brown- Managing Director at Adding Value Ltd 
  • Building a Business Plan- Capacity Team  

Through attending all these sessions and speaking with the students, the sessions provided helpful tips on all parts of the business journey including: marketing, finance, branding and sales. As Dougal Paver, one of the speakers said- "Never stop learning, never stop to give up." The students definitely took this on board as they developed small ideas into feasible business plans worthy of investment. 


The Pitches 

Unfortunately, the outbreak of Covid-19 resulted in the live pitching event occurring via zoom. This allowed the students to pitch their business ideas to a panel of experts, educators and investors. Although this was not a physical event there were still three investors who listened to the student’s five-minute presentations followed by five minutes of question and answers which occurred in zoom breakout rooms. The winner of the pitching event won the cash prize of £1000. 

Personal reflection is something people struggle with as they are so caught up in the moment however; it was amazing how confident the students were talking about their ideas and how much they had learnt over the last 12 weeks. From an outside perspective, I could tell everyone had taken something valuable from each and every session to the point they could pitch full of belief and determination. Everyone had a response to all the questions thrown at them batting them away for six however sadly not everyone could win. 

This year saw the £1000 prize shared between two students.

1. Wayne Massam an International Business student

Business: Styliffy Ltd it is a photographic recognition platform (app) integrated with a high-performance AI-powered search engine which helps you identify any item of clothing, resulting in a more efficient shopping experience.

2. Nachi Kaluba, a Computer Science student 

Business: Culture and Me  is an online platform that matches job seekers with companies they would be a good fit for, based on work culture.  


Alongside their business ideas, both students throughout the whole 12-week programme added value to all sessions by offering intelligent and motivating insights, which was a factor contributing towards their success. 



Overall, observing how the students first talked about their ideas to a few months later by introducing fully-fledged business plans covering every single component of their idea just highlights how successful the programme was.  

The experience of pitching in front of actual investors and answering difficult questions about how to deal with the current pandemic was challenging but rewarding for the students, leaving me in no doubt that these students will be successful in the future. 

A big thanks to Chris Witterick and the team at Lab by Capacity for working alongside us here at the University of Liverpool, the contacts myself and the students have built up alongside the help to grow their businesses is invaluable. It is not just the winners who will benefit; everyone has built precious employability skills which will be of use going forward, whether that is in business or elsewhere. As Chris said- 'the future of entrepreneurship at the University of Liverpool is very exciting.' 

Rome wasn't built in a day, but all these students are slowly but steadily building their own empires. 

Keywords: Case studies.