The Startup Community Platform is a website built to support the entrepreneurial community at the University of Edinburgh. This digital initiative has a number of exciting features:
- University of Edinburgh entrepreneurs can find co-founders and team members.
- Talented University of Edinburgh students can discover opportunities to join startup projects and contribute their skills.
- Access to calendars that centralise the overwhelming number of entrepreneurial events and funding opportunities available within the wider ecosystem.
- Useful resources recommended by peers, designed to help clients develop their entrepreneurial knowledge and skills.
- Chat to like-minded entrepreneurs, share ideas, and find answers to questions.
Development and Delivery
This project was proposed in 2018, and since then has gone from strength to strength.
Our clients would often ask “how do I find a co-founder?”, but we felt our response was never satisfactory. Meanwhile, we noticed students would reach out to us enquiring of opportunities to join student startups. We decided to create a platform connecting the two sides of this marketplace. As the platform evolves, we have found opportunity to incorporate other elements of our services, bring them online, and better serve our clients.
The project has primarily been funded using our Student Enterprise Associate’s part-time hours, and resources from the IT department.
This project – when first proposed – was a novel, but unproven addition to our services. It was necessary to justify the investment in time and resource. In order to get approval, we put together a comprehensive proposal outlining the rationale and positive impacts of such a project. Throughout the development we continue to consult and work alongside our entrepreneurs to ensure we build a platform that is genuinely useful.
The SCP has resulted in a more transparent entrepreneurial community at the University of Edinburgh. Staff and students can browse a directory of all the fascinating projects created within the university community. You can also browse through the profiles of others within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Furthermore, it has established a more cohesive entrepreneurial ecosystem, by centralising partners, events, and funding opportunities into one convenient website.
We have created bespoke webpages within the SCP for a number of our entrepreneurial programmes. This allows participants to interactively engage with the programmes’ relevant resources and avoid the inconvenience of sifting through emails.
At the start of the pandemic, we realised it would be crucial to develop a digital-first strategy as quickly as possible to continue supporting our clients without major interruption. The SCP was front and centre in this effort, allowing our community to continue connecting, communicating, and learning in a world where physical contact became scarce.
We recently implemented a sophisticated analytics solution using Google Analytics to measure the success of the platform. These analytics provide insight into:
- Total number of monthly active users. Also, we are able to plot new registrations on a graph to identify spikes in registrations and understand how effective certain promotional efforts are.
- Identify which areas of the website receive the most activity and are therefore most valuable.
- Record when a startup has successfully added a new team-member or collaborated with a freelancer facilitated by the SCP.
We currently have 214 unique monthly active users, and 7 University of Edinburgh startups promoting 10 team-joining opportunities who otherwise wouldn’t have found clear avenues to get the word out.
Recognition of the opportunity provided by the SCP has encouraged the Student Enterprise Team to reconsider all areas of our services. It has effectively raised the ceiling of what we previously considered possible by bringing our services into the digital age and making them scalable.
We actively use the SCP to engage with a number of entrepreneurial student societies and partners to celebrate and signpost their activity. This project has been an excellent opportunity to practice what we preach and follow lean startup methodologies. Analytics and user feedback allows us to build features, measure their success, and act on our learnings.
Significant potential has been unlocked by the development of the Startup Community Platform. Our ambition is to raise awareness of the platform and inspire staff, students and alumni to become involved in entrepreneurship. Lastly, we are keen to collaborate with academics to incorporate the platform into relevant courses and degrees. We will continue to develop the platform and introduce a news feed, host recordings of our workshops, and create more comprehensive profiles.
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